Minneapolis should add protected lanes

Minneapolis officials released a proposal late last month that, if approved, would greatly expand the city’s protected bike lanes. While Minneapolis currently has an extensive network of bike lanes, only about two miles are protected or separated from the road via physical barriers such as planters or posts. The majority of bike lanes are painted onto the road without any physical protection from traffic. 
 
The proposed expansion would add about 30 miles of protected lanes by 2020. The majority of proposed lanes would run downtown, including on several streets near campus, such as University Avenue.
 
The expansion seems to be intended to increase Minneapolis cycling rates by making potential cyclists feel safer on the roads. Minneapolis Bike and Pedestrian Coordinator Matthew Drydahl told MPR News  that “only a small portion of the population feels really comfortable in a standard bicycle lane.” Similarly, City Councilman Kevin Reich was quoted in the Minnesota Daily as saying, “There seems to be a subcategory of rider who would ride more if they had a protected facility.”
 
Estimated costs for the expansion are between $7 million and $12 million, excluding future maintenance costs. Funding is expected to come from a combination of sources, including city and county budgets and federal grants.
 
While the proposed expansion has yet to be approved, we hope to see the city implement this plan. Minneapolis has the second-highest rate of bike commuters in major U.S. cities, and they — as well as potential new riders — deserve to have safe facilities for their commutes.