While no proposal currently exists to bring a cycle track to Lake Street in Uptown, I think the community, City, and County should serious consider one. Lake Street, especially west of Hennepin to Lake Calhoun, has excessively wide lanes and has room to add one.
What the heck is a cycle track?
A cycle track is a segregated bike path on the street designed to improve safety and efficiency. There are examples across the world and they are becoming far more common in North America. In Downtown Minneapolis, there is a hybrid cycle track on First Avenue North, but it has been very confusing for bikers and cars, so please do not base your opinion on that.
Why a Cycle Track on Lake Street, especially with the Greenway nearby?
Uptown is served by the Midtown Greenway just north of Lagoon Avenue, but it’s focus is on moving bikers across the City and less so on inner-neighborhood movement. Uptown is a major destination and a very dense Minneapolis neighborhood with lots of residents and businesses. Lake Street and Hennepin Avenue are not bike-friendly with higher speeds and lots of opening doors from those parking their cars.
But with lots of people biking to Uptown to reach area restaurants, stores, and entertainment venues, they are biking on sidewalks. I see it all the time, especially with less experienced bikers. With Lake Street connecting directly to Lake Calhoun, bikers take the sidewalks on the south side of Lake Street (especially west of Irving Avenue) to connect to the path.
This would be a great opportunity to connect Lake Calhoun to the heart of the Uptown area, making biking to businesses and homes much more safe and much more enjoyable. Sidewalk biking is dangerous for the biker and dangerous for the pedestrian, as bikers fly off the sidewalk at intersections in front of unsuspecting drivers and pedestrians come out of businesses right in the path of bikers. And it’s illegal to bike on a sidewalk in a commercial district, pretty much for that very reason.
My route would have the cycle track on the south side of the street from Lake Calhoun to Girard Avenue, as Girard has many bike parking spots and is part of a new promenade that links to the Midtown Greenway.
Would it remove a traffic lane or parking?
It would not have to, as Lake Street has 12′ of existing street space that could be used without removing lanes or parking. Planners identified the 12′ back during the Uptown Small Area Plan process, as the current roadway has 13′ lanes and 11′ parking lanes compared with 11′ and 8′, respectfully, which has been built on the recently reconstructed portions of Lake Street east of Uptown.
A cycle track would require about 12′, with 10′ of path and 2′ of buffer. Removing a parking lane would allow for sidewalks to grow and additional landscaping to be added to Uptown. Sections of that 8′ could be used for bike parking in busy areas.