Guidebook maps out ways to make roads bike-friendly

by Jessica Steeno

Bicyclists may have an easier time commuting to the University campus because of new bike lanes and bike paths.
Trina Driscoll, a research fellow in the University Landscape Studies Center, has written a guide for developing bicycle transportation networks.
Driscoll’s book, “Creating Bicycle Transportation Networks: A Guidebook,” is being used by metro-area city planners to create bike lanes and bike paths, and reduce traffic speeds so commuter bicyclists have an easier time getting from point A to point B.
Driscoll said her guidebook is the first of its kind to be published.
“It’s a complete set of planning guidelines for professionals and laypeople,” she said.
This past summer the Metropolitan Council, which oversees transit services in the seven-county metro area, adopted Driscoll’s book as a guideline for neighborhood associations and city planners to use when planning bicycle transportation networks. These organizations must use the book’s guidelines when applying for federal funding for bicycle transportation improvements.
The University has formed a bicycle committee of students, staff, faculty and University Police to make the University and surrounding areas more bicycle-friendly.
Driscoll is designing a bicycle transportation plan for the University committee.
“It’s a plan that’s geared to greatly increase bicycle commuting to and at the~ U from 5 percent to 20 percent,” she said.
An October 1994 traffic count conducted by the University indicated bicyclists accounted for 21 percent of all traffic on 15th Avenue between University Avenue and Fourth Street.
“We want to get people to leave their cars at home,” said Steve Sanders, a project manager with University Parking and Transportation Services.
Driscoll’s bicycle plan includes constructing more bike lanes through and near the University and creating additional bicycle parking on campus. The plan also offers roads designed to slow down automobile traffic — “traffic calming” techniques such as building obstacles in traffic lanes to slow vehicles.
Sanders said the committee is unsure of how much Driscoll’s plan will cost to implement. He said funding will probably come from the Board of Regents’ recently approved master plan for campus improvements.
The committee is also working with Public Works departments in Minneapolis and St. Paul to connect campus bike lanes with other recently constructed lanes near the University.
When University Avenue reopens this fall, it will include a 6-foot bike lane, Driscoll said. The bike lane will be an extension of the gutter and a different color than the road so it will be more visible to motorists.
A Transitway bike lane is currently under construction and will open sometime in the next few weeks. It will extend along the entire Transitway to the Stone Arch Bridge, which crosses the Mississippi River near Sixth Avenue Southeast.
Minneapolis transportation officials are working with neighborhood groups around the University to make city streets safer for bicyclists.
Rhonda Rae, a Minneapolis Transportation Project engineer, said neighborhood groups primarily use traffic calming techniques to make bicycling safer.
Bicycles are considered a more efficient means of transportation than cars because of their greater mobility, Rae said.
“What people don’t realize is that they can go between one to three miles faster on a bicycle in an urban setting” than in an automobile, Rae said.