Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Minneapolis' Left Turns Yield to Bikes

I learned a lot from the visit to Minneapolis. In downtown, I thought there are the starts of a pretty good system. A fair number of bike lanes and a lot of activity in downtown. While there are a lot of bike lanes, there isn't a continuity throughout the streets that builds new riders confidence. I found myself in a couple of locations where the bike lane ended without signage notifying me of the upcoming change.

As I biked and walked around the City, the first thing I (and a few others of my colleagues noticed) is that the traffic signals are set for moving traffic. The cycle lengths (the amount of time) are long, which leads to a wide variety of speeds on the streets.

The left turns throughout downtown are set up to make the streets accessible, yet this can result in drivers that are looking for gaps in traffic and creating a less safe environment of people on bikes.

Minneapolis uses some left hand bike lanes, which I understand in some cases are useful. One of the things I found in using these was there were times I didn't know which side to be on in advance. Especially when you are turning from a permitted left turn onto a new street. So, I am not sure I like the application all that much, but at the same time one can't design for visitors. Yet.... one should design (especially for cyclists and trying to lure commuters) for newer riders to encourage that they'll bike for the second time.
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