By Joan Pasiuk, Bike Walk Twin Cities Program Director

On July 20, the TLC board funded three pedestrian and bicycle capital projects totaling over $2 million. All three projects resulted from planning studies previously funded by BWTC, received the recommendation of the Bike Walk Advisory Committee (BWAC), and involved consultation by the BWTC technical advisory team. All have a completion timeline of 2010.

  • $1,050,000 to the City of Golden Valley for a complete street project on Douglas Drive between Golden Valley Road and Medicine Lake Road (Golden Valley city limits). The project incorporates designated bikeways and sidewalk improvement elements of the Douglas Drive Corridor Improvement Study. This award is conditional on successfully reducing the posted speed limit from 40 m.p.h. to 35 m.p.h. and a good faith effort by the city to obtain approval for a reduction to 30 m.p.h. The redesign of Douglas Drive is seen as opportunity to implement a model project under the Hennepin County complete streets policy approved as part of its Active Living initiative. The project area has a bus line and serves a significant number of transit-dependent riders. For the bicycling population, the project will connect to the Luce Line trail, providing greater access to Minneapolis.
  • $400,000 to the City of St Paul for the Griggs Street Bicycle and Pedestrian Facilities project. This project resulted from the Central Corridor Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan and will provide better north-south access to destinations including the new bridge over I-94, Dunning Fields, Central High, Jimmy Lee Recreation Center, and Concordia College. It will provide safer pedestrian and bicycle travel for the residents of Skyline Towers and the students at Gordon Parks High School, and it will connect to the proposed Ayd Mill Road Trail, the proposed Jefferson Avenue bikeway, and other regional bikeways including Marshall Avenue, Summit Avenue, and Minnehaha Avenue. 
  • $765,000 to the City of Minneapolis for the Cedar/Washington Avenue intersection project. This project was a high priority of the new Minneapolis Pedestrian Plan and will transform the busy, complex intersection of 7-corners where additional high-density housing is planned. The project will have significant safety features including leading pedestrian interval traffic signal operation (giving pedestrians priority in crossing the street), medians, and accessible curb ramp improvements. The project scored high on the pedestrian improvement needs evaluation of the plan, especially due to crash incidence, pedestrian generators, and transit priority.

These projects modify existing streets to make them safer for pedestrians and bicyclists and complete important connections in the bike-pedestrian transportation system. The moral imperative of our Bike Walk Twin Cities investments keeps me riveted to the task. You can read metropolitan visionary Neal Pearce’s eloquent response to the question he raises: “Why should we seriously consider federal support for sidewalk widenings or new pathways for city dwellers and suburbanites?” Or you can review recent research; consider the low-income kids in NYC who, exposed to higher levels of prenatal motor vehicle exhaust, register lowered intelligence significant enough to affect performance in school. Or even turn to the story of one of our TLC members:

“I date myself when I relate that I was vertical by the time I was a year old and that I was born (a twin) before anyone knew much about Retinopathy of Prematurity! Once I was upright, there was no stopping me! I have walked many miles, ridden even more and I will ride the bus over letting someone drive me, any day! When sidewalks are user-friendly, curb cuts made according to the ADA, walking with six feet is a joy! SIX FEET? Yup, my car is often my dog guide and my bicycle has room for two passengers! So…I have found the communities with wonderful walking and biking routes to be my best transportation buddies! I got my first tandem bike when I was almost too short to put my feet on the pedals and my first dog guide right after college! The Twin Cities Area is becoming more and more accessible for those of us who require some pedestrian accommodations (like APS and the announcement of bus stops by drivers so I want to be a part of active living in Ramsey County. Don’t tell me there’s somewhere I can’t go…because that’s all the more reason for me to try to go there…WITHOUT A CAR!”

Our news: more funded projects, more possibilities, more promise of a Twin Cities region more livable for all.