New Bike Boulevard Among Projects Opening this Summer

By Hilary Reeves, Communications Director

Bicyclist on Stone Arch and Presidents’ Bike Boulevard in Northeast Minneapolis.

The federal Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program (NTPP)—implemented locally under the name Bike Walk Twin Cities—was the brainchild of Minnesota’s longtime Congressman James Oberstar. Sadly, Oberstar died in May, but his vast legacy of accomplishments in transportationcontinues to expand. In the case of the Bike Walk Twin Cities (BWTC) pilot, there are several bike/ped improvement projects yet to open in Minneapolis, Saint Paul, Richfield, and Fridley. Some of these new BWTC-funded routes will be opening in June and July:

• Fridley: Main Street bike and walk connections to Northstar commuter rail
• Saint Paul: Charles Avenue bikeway from Aldine to Park Street
• Minneapolis:  Stone Arch and Presidents’ Bike Boulevard in Northeast, from the Stone Arch Bridge to St. Anthony Boulevard
• Minneapolis:  Southern Connector, from East 24th to East 60th Street
• Minneapolis:  Bluff Street extension of the Dinkytown Greenway, from the west bank of Bridge 9 to the Minneapolis Riverfront, near Gold Medal Park

We’ll be profiling these exciting projects for you this summer. First up: a new route in Northeast Minneapolis!

PresBB-routemap_WEBStone Arch and Presidents’ Bike Boulevard

Distance:  The Stone Arch and Presidents’ Bike Boulevard runs 3.6 miles from Stone Arch Bridge to St. Anthony Boulevard, along 6th Avenue SE, across East Hennepin Avenue, then along Pierce, Fillmore, Polk, and Tyler Avenues NE. The route extends north along Tyler to 37thAvenue NE.

Bike routes it connects to:  Mississippi River trails; bike lanes on University Avenue SE and 4thStreet SE; 5th Street Bicycle Boulevard, 22nd Avenue Bicycle Boulevard, St. Anthony Parkway (Grand Rounds). The Diagonal Trail is not far away.

Notable infrastructure:

• Mini traffic circles at two intersections along the route
• Median at Polk Street NE and Lowry Avenue NE
• Stop-light detection for bicycles
• Overhead ped/bike flasher and crosswalk at Hennepin Avenue

Things to watch out for:  The bicycle boulevard runs along Hennepin Avenue for a block to get between 5th Street SE and Pierce Street NE. The crossing at Hennepin Avenue is not ideal, but the best solution that could be found for now, given the narrow road bed under railroad tracks. Bicyclists are instructed to ride along the north sidewalk of Hennepin Avenue. As noted above, there is an overhead flashing sign alerting motorists to yield to bikes and pedestrians in the crosswalk to 5th Avenue SE. Hennepin Avenue is two lanes in both directions, so cyclists could choose to take one of these lanes.

Overhead-Flasher-East-Hennepin

Amenities for people walking: There are sidewalks all along the route. The medians at Lowry make it easier to cross, whether you’re walking or riding your bicycle. The median is wide enough to wait in the middle for motorized traffic to clear. The overhead flasher at Hennepin also works for people walking (note: crosswalk markings not yet added).

Why here?  This new bike boulevard provides a quiet, easy, flat, north-south route on the east side of Northeast Minneapolis. After it crosses Hennepin Avenue, the bicycle boulevard runs parallel to Central Avenue, which is packed with restaurants, shopping, and services. It is also parallel to and a few blocks west of Johnson Street NE, where there are businesses and restaurants (such as Sarah Jane’s Bakery and Hazel’s Northeast). The route runs very near several parks, including Beltrami Park, Northeast Athletic Fields, Deming Heights Park, and (across Central) Columbia Golf Club. It connects easily to restaurants and shopping in Nordeast and along Central Avenue (e.g., Holy Land, East Side Coop, Recovery Bike Shop), as well as (via 22nd Avenue Bicycle Boulevard) the Northeast Library, Edison High School, and the Quarry.

L: The project includes new traffic circles at Fillmore and Spring and at Polk and 28th. R: The new median at Polk and Lowry improves crossing conditions for people on foot or in a wheelchair.

Bus, Nice Ride, HOURCAR connections: There are Nice Ride Stations (seasonally) at 6thAvenue SE and University Avenue (not far from the Stone Arch Bridge), at Hennepin and Central Avenues NE (in the Nordeast commercial district), and at 22nd Avenue NE and Central Avenue NE. There are HOURCAR hubs in the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood and at Mill and Main by Father Hennepin Park and St. Anthony Main.

Metro-Transit-bus-route-tenSeveral Metro Transit routes intersect the bicycle boulevard, making bike-bus connections possible to places all over the metro. Bus routes cross the bicycle boulevard at:

• University and 4th Street (several express routes and Route 6, serving U of M, Hennepin, Xerxes, France, and Southdale)
• 8th Street SE (Route 2, serving Franklin Avenue, Riverside Avenue, U of M and 8th Street SE; and Route 4, serving New Brighton, Johnson Street, Bryant Avenue, and Southtown)East
• Hennepin (Route 25, serving Northtown, Silver Lake, Stinson, Lake of the Isles and Route 61, serving E Hennepin Avenue, Larpenteur Avenue, Arcade Street)
• Broadway Street NE (Route 30, Broadway Crosstown and Raymond Avenue)
• Lowry Avenue (Route 32, Robbinsdale, Lowry Avenue, Rosedale)
• Nearby on Central Avenue (Route 10, Central Avenue, University Avenue, Northtown)

Project cost:  $335,570 (construction) + $116,930 (preliminary engineering) = $452,500

Expected completion:  We’ll look forward to riding the completed Stone Arch and Presidents’ Bike Boulevard by the end of June 2014. Hope to see you out there!

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