The city of Minneapolis has released an update to its master bike plan that aims to increase the number of protected bikeways in the city by about 35 miles by 2020.
The term protected bikeways refers to off-street trails, bike and pedestrian bridges or on-street bikeways separated from car traffic by curbs or traffic posts.
Minneapolis Bike and Pedestrian Coordinator Matthew Drydahl said the plan represents a growing interest in the idea of protected bikeways in Minneapolis.
"What we know about bicycling is that only a small portion of the population feels really comfortable in a standard bicycle lane that actually puts you next to moving cars as well," Drydahl said. "What we hear from people is that they'd feel more safe if there was that physical or vertical protection."
Among the high-profile projects listed in the first phase is a cycle track on Washington Avenue through downtown Minneapolis, protected bikeways on both 26th and 28th streets in south Minneapolis and a two-way protected bike lane on 26th Avenue in north Minneapolis.
Many of the earlier city or county projects are already funded. The additional cost for the 40 projects listed in the first two phases of the plan is estimated at between $7 million and $12 million. The city aims to finish construction on the first two phases of the plan by 2020, in order to meet the city's goals listed in its 2013 Climate Action Plan.
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The city already has many off-street trails like the Midtown Greenway, but most of the projects in this plan focus on on-street bikeways or paths on the side of roads that can link already existing bike infrastructure.
"What we're going to be working at more and more, especially as we look at downtown and connecting downtown to other parts of the city, is protected bike lanes," he said.
The projects listed in the update will be added to the Minneapolis Bicycle Master Plan, which was passed by the City Council in 2011.
Minneapolis currently has 213 miles of bikeways. The protected bikeway plan will contribute to the city's long-term goal of almost doubling the amount of bike infrastructure in Minneapolis.
The city's protected bikeway plan is open to public comment, which can be emailed to the city at firstname.lastname@example.org. An open house on the update will be held at the Minneapolis Central Library on April 29. The plan is expected to be considered by the Minneapolis City Council sometime in June.