The Twin Cities get lots of national-level back-slapping for their many miles of bike lanes, but it ain’t all Greenway out there. Some lanes might as well not exist at all.
Time to run down some of the worst places in the metro to get around by bike.
Washington Avenue from Hennepin to Fifth Avenue South
On paper, this thing sounds like a peach. Curb separation from traffic? Great! Bike-specific stop and go lights? Neat! Lots of signs everywhere reminding drivers that cyclists exist? Awesome!
Actually take a ride on this death-trap boondoggle, though, and you’ll see massive cracks in the shiny veneer of safety. The curb keeps risk of rear-ending low, but you’ll have to dodge zombie pedestrians who, plastered to their phones, veer into the lane. And despite all the signage, drivers seem to forget the bike lane at every intersection, cruising through turns without so much as a nod toward their blind spots.
And those fancy bike-only lights? Every time we’ve ridden on Washington, they turned green a little after the main green, giving drivers a nice head start on a right hook.
Marshall Avenue from Snelling Avenue to Mississippi River Boulevard
Somebody thought it was a good idea to smash a traffic lane, a bike lane, a parking lane, and a bunch of beautiful, wide medians full of trees all onto a road with room for two out of the four. The result is a frequently blocked bike lane with constant risk of dooring and a traffic lane full of cars that pass cyclists within inches because of the medians and because they’re too impatient to wait for a safe place to overtake.
Portland Avenue and Park Avenue between Lake and 46th Streets
That’s a nice, wide bike lane you got there. Sure would be a pain if literally every delivery vehicle in the Twin Cities used it as a temporary parking space, wouldn’t it? How about we also make the average driving speed like, 10 to 15 miles an hour faster than the limit, so every time you have to dodge one of those assholes you nearly get mashed into a blacktop Pollock?
Westbound 60th Street from Portland to Second
If the shit isn’t even wide enough to paint the bike logo on, don’t call it a bike lane.
First Avenue from 29th Street to 15th Street
Journey with us past Oscar Auto Body, where cars are like as not parked in the pothole-strewn bike lane—either those of customers arriving, or their dropped-off cars being shuffled in and out of the tiny lot. Then, that godawful block between Cecil and 28th, where the bike lane moves to the middle of the street, while cars turning right at 28th blow across it without a single care for right-of-way.
But that’s not all!
While we cross 28th, we’ll get to move back to the right mid-intersection, potentially getting winged by straight-ahead traffic in the process. And we’ve added a bonus obstacle: a dense line of parked cars 10 blocks long immediately to our right, each one potentially containing a driver about to open their door or hiding a pedestrian on the verge of wandering out into our path.
Eastbound 10th Street between Seventh Street and Glenwood Avenue
This would be a great stretch of road on which to have a functional, protective bike lane, given that drivers tend to plummet through at speeds guaranteed to turn a cyclist into giblets. Unfortunately, Metro Transit parks anywhere from three to ten buses in the bike lane on this stretch during the middle of the day, rendering the thing utterly useless for several hours at a time—during rush hour, no less.
The cherry on top comes at Twins Way, where the bike lane, with no transition whatsoever, switches from the right side of the road to the left in the middle of the intersection. It’s like someone at City Hall is just fucking with us.
Third Avenue from Sixth Street to Washington Avenue
This thing was supposed to be cool. Like, mega cool, with nice planters full of flowers to keep people from using it as a parking lot.
Then the Minneapolis City Council voted to put up plastic bollards instead. You know, those flimsy wands that deter an impatient Uber driver about as well as a book stops a bullet. The ones that gradually disappear as drivers snap them off by driving over them, then completely vanish in the winter.
Not surprisingly, cars use pretty much all of the Third Avenue bike lane as 15-minute parking—most egregiously, hustle-economy and limo service drivers dropping off and picking up skin junkies under the marked no-stopping zone (redundant, since stopping in the bike lane is already illegal) outside Rick’s Cabaret.
Adding insult to injury, Minneapolis cops—the people who are supposed to be stopping all this—incessantly park their squad cars in the bike lane when they need to run into the Court House or City Hall for a few minutes.
Summit Avenue from Ramsey to Mississippi River Boulevard, particularly at Snelling
Alan Grahn. Virginia Heuer.
Fix it before we have to add another name to the list.
Cruise around to rest of our 2018 Bike Issue:
- The 8 best bike rides in Minnesota
- This summer's 7 best bike events
- Dockless rideshare bikes are coming!
- Revisiting the Cleveland Avenue bike lane battle, two years later
- Lose the Lycra: Local designers talk fashionable, practical bikewear
- Everything you need to know about E-bikes
- The 4 best bike shop cafes in the Twin Cities