Minneapolis report: Residents want to drive less

Pedestrians and bikers try out the new Samatar Crossing trail.
Pedestrians and bikers try out the Samatar Crossing trail into downtown Minneapolis following its dedication in August 2018.
Judy Griesedieck for MPR News 2018

A new 10-year vision for transportation released Monday by the city of Minneapolis focuses on making it easier for people to get around the city without driving.

According to the draft report, 50 percent of people surveyed say driving is their most frequent means of travel. But people indicated they'd like to be able to walk or ride their bikes more often.

Lisa Bender, president of the Minneapolis City Council, said it's important to provide viable alternatives to driving for people who are looking for them.

"You should have a real choice to get on the bus and get to work,” said Bender. “No matter where you live in the city, you should be able to walk five minutes, get on a high-frequency bus and be connected to your job, to your school, to your kid's activities — to wherever you need to go."

Bender added that safer walking and biking will change the way neighborhoods feel.

“If you’re walking to the corner store to support local businesses, you’re not running across a four-lane, undivided, death road,” said Bender. “You’re casually, calmly walking through your neighborhood, waving hello to a neighbor.”

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The draft plan includes designating more bus-only lanes, protected bikeways and safety improvements for pedestrians. The recommendations also are in the city’s Vision Zero initiative, which outlines ways to eliminate deaths and serious injuries from traffic crashes. Later this week, city officials are expected to announce that speed limits on Minneapolis streets will be reduced.

City officials say the vision for transportation, which doesn’t include cost estimates, reflects values such as supporting racial equity, increasing traffic safety and reducing greenhouse gasses. It also sets goals of three out of every five trips be taken by transit, bike or walking.

Minneapolis city officials say the plan is not anti-car, but rather emphasizes alternatives.

Project manager Kathleen Mayell said some people will always choose to drive. And she said this plan may help them as it’s likely to “clear up some space on the street for those people who want to or have to... be in their car."

The city just opened a 45-day public comment period on the transportation plan which includes a series of community meetings. The first will be held Wednesday at the Central Library downtown.