Transportation Planning Casebook/Twin Cities Bike Networks
In 2010, Minneapolis was named as the USA's Number One bicycle friendly city, beating out contenders like Portland, OR. Prior to 2010, Minneapolis had relatively few bicycle traffic controls in place. Among them included 44 miles of bike lanes and 84 miles of dedicated bicycle trails. 
Once ranked number one, the City of Minneapolis began the push to create a safe, comfortable environment on the roadways for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists. These efforts include the shared lanes around the city, new systems of markings, the advisory bike lane on E 14th St, and the bicycle control light at 5th St and Broadway. Also, the number of bike lanes in the metro are has doubled since 2010.  Some of these measures are the first in the country, and their effectiveness is still being evaluated by groups such as the MN Traffic Observatory in the Civil Engineering Department at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities.
- History of Bicycling in Minneapolis
- Why the Twin Cities is a Biking Leader
- Minneapolis bikers get increased attention, new safety measures
- City of Minneapolis 2011 Bicycling Account
- Number 1 bike city: Minneapolis
- St. Paul on the Jefferson Ave Bikeway Project
- St. Paul's controversial Jefferson Ave bikeway sparks even more citizen hearings
- Bike Walk Twin Cities on the Jefferson Ave project
- Jefferson Ave bikeway plan amended in St. Paul City Council vote
- 5th traffic circle added to proposed Jefferson Ave Bikeway in St. Paul
- Green Lanes Fade to Black
- Minneapolis Bikers Getting Increased Attention, New Safety Measures (2011)
- The Green Lane Project
- What is a green lane? (Green Lane Project)
Annotated List of Actors
- Cyclists: As of 2010, 3.5%  of Minneapolis' 385,000 residents rode their bicycles to work during good weather. Over the winter, 19% of them continue to bike. 45% of Twin Cities cyclists are women, compared to 26% of cyclists nationally. There are two subsets of cyclists, recreational and utilitarian.
- Recreational: Recreational cyclists are those who ride fairly infrequently. They are generally not used in research as much as utilitarian cyclists, as they provide a less reliable source of traffic and data.
- Utilitarian: Utilitarian cyclists are those who ride frequently, and not just for pleasure. Utilitarian trips include commuting to work or school, going shopping or running errands, visiting friends/relatives, etc. 
- City of Minneapolis
- City of St. Paul
- Metropolitan Council: The regional governing body for the seven-county metropolitan region in the Twin Cities
- Nice Ride: Nice Ride Minnesota was formed through the Twin Cities Bike Share Project, an initiative started by Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and the City of Lakes Nordic Ski Foundation in July 2008. Their mission statement reads: "To enhance the quality of our urban life by providing a convenient, easy-to-use bike sharing program that will provide residents and visitors a healthy, fun, different way to get around town." 
- Transit for Livable Communities: A non-profit organization in the Twin Cities devoted to promoting alternative forms of transportation including biking, walking, and public transit.
- Bike Walk Ambassadors: Bike Walk Twin Cities (BWTC) is a Metro-wide effort to increase biking and walking, and decrease driving. It is part of a federal initiative, the Non-Motorized Transportation Pilot Program. 
- Former Congressman James Oberstar: Congressman Oberstar served from 1975 to 2011. During this time, he helped to pass the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users. He was called "Cycling's Best Friend in Washington" toward the end of his term.
Timeline of Cycling in Minneapolis
- 1900s to 1920 Biking becomes popular in Minneapolis. Early boulevards spring up around the city and are paved.
- 1920 to 1970 Automobiles become more popular than bicycles. Bikes transition in the public eye from a viable mode of transportation to "children's toys", and efforts to create bicycle-friendly urban planning cease.
- 1970 to 1990 Cycling gains more awareness and public approval due to a cultural shift of environmental awareness and ongoing fuel shortages. Miles of path are added around the city, and around the University of MN.
- 1990s Many miles of trails are added after ISTEA (the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991) is passed.
- 2000s The Minneapolis Greenway is added. 
- 2010 Minneapolis is ranked number one cycling city in the nation by Bicycling Magazine among others, ahead of contenders like Portland, OR. The rankings are based on quantifiable things like miles of path and trail, terrain, and number of bike commuters, but also less determinate qualities like "vibrant cycling culture". 
- 2010 to 2012 With the ranking of Best Cycling City, initiatives for bicycle safety, accessibility and comfort on the roadway ramp up. The Nice Ride program is established and grows to over 150,000 trips per year in 2011.  The Cedar Lake trail, America's first "bicycle freeway"  is opened. Traffic calming and control measures- some old, some novel- are added around the city. Overall, the amount of trails and paths available to cyclists double, with 35 miles being added in 2011 alone. 
- 2012 Minneapolis loses the title of No. 1 Bike Friendly city to Portland, OR.  However, initiatives by the City of Minneapolis continue to grow. 
National Bicycle Infrastructure Projects: The Green Lane Project
The Green Lane project was started in May 31st, 2012 by the Bikes Belong Foundation. The focus of the project is to coordinate ideas in cities across the United States for safely integrating bicycles into the transportation system. Chicago, Washington D.C., Memphis, Austin, San Francisco, and Portland, Oregon were the original six cities included in the project for investigating infrastructure, however, other cities have been highlighted throughout the life of the project. Various types of bicycle infrastructure have been experimented with in these cities and will provide insight for other cities regarding the safest, most effective, and most durable forms of infrastructure . Although Minneapolis is not among the cities selected for the project, many of the principles of the Green Lane project are being used by the City of Minneapolis.
According to the project’s website, green lanes are “dedicated, inviting spaces for people on bikes in roadway, protected from cars and separated from sidewalks” .
The project has four main goals:
- Track and publicize the installation of new facilities
- Understand their impact
- Identify and address obstacles to implementation
- Expand the national knowledge base through research and best practices
Local Bicycle Infrastructure: Traffic Control and Calming Efforts around the Twin Cities
A variety of markings have been introduced to the streets of Minneapolis as the demand for cycling increased. Images of these markings can be seen on the City of Minneapolis' website (http://www.minneapolismn.gov/bicycles/understanding-bicycle-markings).
These markings include:
- Bike Lanes: Combinations of solid and dashed lined lanes. The solid lines indicate cyclists only, where the dashed lines are merge areas.
- Green Bike Lanes: Just like traditional bike lanes, but with green paint applied to increase visibility.
- Advisory Bike Lane: A single lane roadway with two bicycle lanes, one on either side. Vehicles should treat the roadway as a one way street. During head-on encounters, vehicles may merge into the bicycle lane, after first yielding to any present cyclists.
- Buffered bike lane: Like a traditional bike lane, but with an additional extra space separating riders from traffic.
- Cycle track: A traditional bike lane, but on the inside of the parking lane. In some places, door space is added in order to minimize accidents caused from unaware cyclists and/or drivers and car doors.
- Shared Lane: Cyclists, busses, and drivers all share the lane. Safe passing distance (three feet according to MN law) should be maintained by all.
- Green Shared Lane: Just like a traditional shared lane, but with green paint applied to increase visibility.
- Bike boulevard: Designated bicycle route on a low-volume residential street.
- Bike box: A space between the crosswalk and the driver stop line intended for left turning cyclists to wait in during yellow- and red-phases of the traffic light cycle.
Green Lane Materials
- Green Latex Paint
Several materials have been used for creating bicycle infrastructure. The green paint traditionally seen on streets is one material that has been used. This is a green, latex paint that is sprayed onto the street surface. This paint provides cyclists a noticeable, designated space and is much more visible than other forms of painted bicycle markings. Although this paint is easily applied to the street surface and is noticeable, it is not a very durable form of marking. According to Simon Blenski, a planner for the City of Minneapolis, the life of this paint is typically three to six months. This is especially short due to Minneapolis’s harsh winters. Minneapolis is one of the first cities, other than Chicago, to experiment with this paint in this type of weather and will likely find better alternatives.
- Thermoplastic lane marking
Thermoplastic lane marking is another type of infrastructure that has been used for green lanes. These markings are made by melting bright green reflective plastic into the street surface with intense heat. These markings are much more expensive than the traditional green latex paint and cost about $19.52 per square compared to $2.39 per square foot for the green paint. Although these markings are much more expensive, they are also more durable. These markings have performed much more effectively than green latex paint.
Bicycle Traffic Signal A traffic control signal specifically for cyclists was placed at Northeast Fifth Street and Northeast Broadway Street. The goal of the signal is to allow bicyclists to safely cross Broadway, which has an average daily count of 15,000 vehicles. 
Jefferson Avenue Case Study
- Neighborhood residents
- Emily Erickson (City of St. Paul Sustainable Transportation Planner)
- Chris Tolbert (City of St. Paul Ward 3 Council Member)
- Transit for Livable Communities
Jefferson Avenue is an east/west street in St. Paul, Minnesota. This street is primarily residential and was identified as critical component in making the streets of St. Paul well connected and safe for drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists. This has been a goal for the City of St. Paul and is codified in their Transportation Plan in the St. Paul Comprehensive Plan .
The Jefferson Avenue Bikeway is a four-mile bikeway from Mississippi River Boulevard to West Seventh Street. Traffic calming devices will be used along the entire bikeway, however, physical bike lanes only exist from Lexington Parkway to West Seventh Street. Other infrastructure will also be used, including sharrows, signage, and a flashing LED stop sign .
Traffic Circles vs. Stop Signs
Traffic circles and stop signs serve very different functions. Traffic circles function as a traffic calming device, whereas stop signs are a traffic control device. One of the primary objectives of the Jefferson Avenue is to employ traffic calming techniques, thus traffic circles are a better choice than stop signs. Additionally, people can choose whether or not to obey a stop sign, but they are forced to slow down by a traffic circle. Drivers may also speed up in between stop signs since they can decelerate quickly at a stop sign. Traffic circles, however, require that motorists maintain a relatively slow speed in order to maneuver around the curves. The City of St. Paul believes that the traffic circles will also improve the aesthetics of the neighborhood. Plantings will be placed in the center of the traffic circles and maintained by the St. Paul Parks and Recreation Department .
Effect on Parking
Although many bicycle infrastructure projects remove parking, the Jefferson Avenue Bikeway maintains all of its current parking locations. Additional parking is also added to the street between Prior Avenue and Kenneth Street and between Fairview Avenue and Snelling Avenue. The city believes that increasing the number of parking spaces provides additional spaces for motorists and narrows the street to provide as a traffic calming device for cyclists and pedestrians .
There are often issues with bicyclists refraining from following traffic laws. Therefore, in conjunction with this project, the City of St. Paul created an education and enforcement program for cyclists so that both drivers and bicyclists will operate properly within the new infrastructure .
It was estimated that the Jefferson Avenue Bikeway would cost approximately $1,000,000 .
Funding for the Jefferson Avenue Bikeway came from both federal grant money and city funds.
$750,000 of the funding for the Jefferson Avenue Bikeway came from the Federal Non-Motorized Transportation Pilot project grant. This grant is funded from the gas tax and was born out of an FTA bill. The funds were designated to four cities throughout the United States to improve bicycling and pedestrian infrastructure. The Twin Cities was chosen as one of these cities and the non-profit organization Transit for Livable Communities was chosen as the organization responsible for distributing these funds .
The City of St. Paul provided the remaining $250,000 for the Jefferson Avenue Bikeway. These funds were primarily used for pavement markings, wayfinding signs, speed display signs, and route signs. The city also paid for the administrative, engineering, and inspection cost of the project .
Many neighborhood residents became worried about how the implementation of the Jefferson Avenue Bikeway would affect the safety of their street. The majority of these comments came from residents on adjacent streets who feared that traffic would divert from Jefferson Avenue onto their street, placing their own families at risk .
Diverter at Cleveland Avenue
The proposed diverter at Cleveland Avenue was one of the most controversial aspects of the original Jefferson Avenue Bike Plan. This piece of infrastructure would not have allowed automobiles to make a left turn from Cleveland Avenue onto Jefferson Avenue. The diverter was initially proposed to create a safe place for cyclists and pedestrians to cross a busy street. Due to strong opposition from neighborhood groups such as The Local Taxpayers for a Liveable Community, this part of the plan was lost early in the planning process .
The number of traffic circles proposed for the Jefferson Avenue Bikeway ranged from 3-5 throughout the planning process. Some stakeholders had a strong opposition to the traffic circles proposed on the bikeway. These drivers felt as though there were too many traffic circles and it would severely slow their progression down the street . Others in opposition feared that vegetation within the traffic circles may grow too large and block the sight distance of those traveling down the street . Other stakeholders became very upset when traffic circles were removed from the plan. These individuals considered the traffic circles vital to the safety and effectiveness of the project. Their agitation was also exacerbated by the fact that two traffic circles were removed from the plan an hour before it was passed .
Use of Funding
Many neighborhood residents, especially those in The Local Taxpayers for a Liveable Community, were opposed to spending any money on this project. They believed that Jefferson Avenue was already a relatively quiet residential street and that building additional infrastructure on the street was not a smart use of tax dollars . Residents in opposition also expressed that bicyclists do not follow traffic laws or use the infrastructure properly anyway, thus making this project a further waste of money .
The amended plan for the Jefferson Avenue Bikeway was passed by St. Paul's city council. The final plan included three traffic circles; two of these devices were included in the original plan and the other was added at the last minute by a city council member seeking to appease his citizens. The other three traffic circles that had previously been included in the plan were removed as an attempt to reach a compromise between all stakeholders .
Hennepin Avenue Case Study
Hennepin Avenue is a major street in Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States. It runs from Lakewood Cemetery (at West 36th Street), north through the Uptown District of Southwest Minneapolis, through the Virginia Triangle, the former "Bottleneck" area west of Loring Park.
Hennepin Avenue now has green shared lanes. Green shared lanes are designed for bicycles, buses, and right turning motorists. This is noted by text on the pavement, signs on the side of the roadway, and overhead message boards. A 4-ft wide green area is painted in the center of the right lanes with bike symbols and pavement text placed at each block.
Hennepin Avenue Bike Lane Project Timeline
- 1980-1994: Hennepin Avenue is a one-way street running north through downtown Minneapolis.
- 1994-Fall 2009: A two-way bicycle lane is added down the center of Hennepin in addition to a southbound contra-flow bus lane. Also, during this period of time, Hennepin Avenue is changed into a major two-way arterial street in Minneapolis, Minnesota. There are two lanes northbound, and one lane southbound. For part of the way, the southbound travel lane carries general traffic, and for part of the way, it is a designated bus lane. The two-way bikeway was in the center of the roadway. 
- Fall 2009-Summer 2010:Bicycle facilities along Hennepin were changed from center running bicycle lanes to shared lanes for bicyclists, buses, and right turning motor vehicles. Shared lane markings were used to mark the right travel lane in both the north and southbound directions. Following implementation in 2009, approximately 20,000 motor vehicles and 1,000 bicyclists traveled along Hennepin daily. During peak periods, approximately 20-30 buses used the corridor per hour.  Compared with the old one, the bike lane of the new project has more space, and bicyclist never has to interact with the left turning vehicles. However, bicyclists' speed is reduced due to the new positioning of the lane. Also, some riders expressed hesitation at sharing space with busses.
- Summer 2010-Present : After initial concerns over the visibility and effectiveness of the lane markings, the facility was enhanced to include a solid green background. The 4-ft wide colored background extended the length each block and was marked with shared lane markings and text. This experimental design was approved by the Federal Highway Administration and implemented in August of 2010.
Public involvement is a critical element of any planning process. It is meant to enhance the participation of the community and key stakeholders by providing a means to have a direct impact on the study’s decisions. The Bicycle Plan included agency coordination, stakeholder participation, business owner block meetings and public open houses.Agency Coordination
- City of Minneapolis Public Works
- Hennepin County Transportation Department
- Metro Transit
- Minneapolis Bicycle Advisory Committee
- Downtown Transportation Management Organization
- The Downtown Council
- Warehouse District Business Association
- Downtown Bar Owners
Design and Infrastructure
Hennepin Avenue serves as a primary link and direct connection between Uptown, Downtown and Northeast Minneapolis and is a critical segment in interconnecting the city’s bicycle network. The corridor limits evaluated in the Bicycle Plan include the following:
- Hennepin Avenue from Lyndale Avenue N to 8th Street SE
- 1st Avenue from DeLaSalle Drive NE to Central Avenue
- 1st Avenue from 2nd Street N to 9th Street N
- Hawthorne Avenue from 9th Street N to 12th Street N
The current right-of-way of Hennepin Avenue offers two types of one-block cross sections: One with a 13.5-ft shared lane and one with an 18.5-ft shared lane. The roadway width is 59 ft, allowing for two northbound travel lanes and two southbound travel lanes. Along the corridor, there are alternating one-way cross streets so left turn lanes are placed every other block. The width of the roadway remains consistent so blocks with left turn lanes require reduced travel lane widths. To accommodate the left turn lane, the right travel lane is reduced to 13.5 ft.
For blocks in which there is no left turn lane, the right travel lane is 18.5 ft. Public works staff were especially interested to see if the alternating lane width affected riding or driving position of road users.
The right travel lane in each direction is a shared lane for bicyclists, buses, and right turning motor vehicles. This lane contains the green shared lane marking. The marking consists of a white bicycle and chevron symbol with a 4-ft wide solid green background that extends the length of the block. The shared lane includes two bicycle chevron symbols per block, and text at the start of each block that reads “Bike, Bus, Right Turn”. The green colored pavement does not extend through intersections.
Shared lanes on Hennepin Avenue are lanes that bicycles, buses, and right-turning vehicles need to share. They are marked with a “sharrow”. While bicyclists are encouraged to use the shared lane, they may still use other lanes for moving, passing, and turning.
Drivers need to be aware that while making a right turn in the combined bus, bicycle, and right-turn lane, cyclists have the right to use the entire lane. A safe and legal yield to cyclists requires three-foot clearance (per Minnesota law). Cyclists should be aware that other vehicles may occupy the shared lane. Ideally, cyclists should use safe passing distance when maneuvering around stopped vehicles. 
At some intersections along Hennepin and First avenues, there will be 10 foot deep bike boxes between crosswalks and the driver stop line . Left-turning bicycles are allowed to pull ahead of stopped traffic and wait in the bike boxes for the light to turn green. Drivers are not allowed in bike boxes during yellow and red stoplight phases. See section [number] above for more information on bike boxes.
Effect on Transportation
The results of the painted green bicycle lane study indicated that it is an easy and cost effective way to attract more cyclists and decrease conflict between drivers and cyclists. Some specific results of the study are here summarized:
- Most bicyclists (79-93%) rode in the green lane. Bicyclists rode closer to the curb while riding in the 13.5-ft shared lanes than while riding in the 18.5-ft lanes.
- On average, motor vehicles traveled to the left of green lane when traveling in the 18.5-ft lanes, but encroached on the green lane when traveling in the 13.5-ft lane. Buses tended to encroach on the green lane for both lane widths.
- Estimated daily bicyclist volumes on Hennepin Avenue decreased from 1,190 to 990. Survey results indicate that this change can be attributed to new or improved bicycle facilities along parallel corridors. Despite this decrease in bicyclist traffic, results show that Hennepin Avenue remains a primary bicycle route through downtown.
- Bicyclist crash rates decreased from 1.03% to 0.4%; however, continued monitoring is needed to determine the long-term safety of the facility. Survey results show that approximately one-third of bicyclists feel more safe with the addition of the green lanes while another third feel there is no change in their perceived safety.
- When traveling in the right lane on Hennepin, most survey respondents think a bicyclist should ride in the green lane and most think that motor vehicles should ride to the left of the green lane. This is similar to the behavior of those traveling in 18.5-ft lanes, however not in 13.5-ft lanes. Survey respondents indicated that a lack of adequate space, the desire for a defined or separated facility, and lack of comprehension are primary reasons for their dissatisfaction with the changes to Hennepin Avenue.
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