August 28, 2012 by Sarah M
//By Jeremy Zoss//
Minneapolis’ bicycle infrastructure has expanded again, this time in Northeast. New bike lanes have been added along Central Avenue from 27th Avenue NE to Washington Avenue S. While the new Central Avenue bike lanes are just one of many cycling improvements that have been made this year, they mark the first bike lanes on a state highway in the city.
State highways are owned and operated by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), not the City of Minneapolis. MnDot’s Gina Mitteco said the new lanes are the result of working closely with both local government and advocacy groups.
“We have a longstanding working relationship with the city on projects like this,” said MItteco. “What was new for this project was working with the Bicycle Advisory Committee. That was helpful to us because they knew what they wanted and could give very specific feedback.”
The new lanes were created without removing traffic lanes from Central. By narrowing travel lanes width from 12 feet to 11 feet, MnDot was able to add a full bike lane for most of the project’s length. However, some areas were not quite wide enough. In these sections, the bike lanes are reduced to shared lanes, indicated by symbols called “sharrows.”
“It’s a bicycle symbol with two chevrons pointing in the direction of travel,” said Mitteco. “It’s a guiding tool, but not a full bike lane.”
Mitteco said MnDot is in talks with the Bicycle Advisory Committee about planned improvements to another state highway, University Avenue. Due to University’s narrow lanes and heavy truck traffic, she does not think extensive cycling infrastructure will be added. However, MnDot is working with the Bicycle Advisory Committee to explore potential bike lanes on limited sections of the road.