Connecting the West side, take 2


Tonight (Tuesday, September 22, 2015), the Northfield City Council will discuss low-cost projects to improve bicycle and walking routes on the west side of the city linking neighborhoods and Saint Olaf College to downtown.

Almost a year ago, the Northfield City Council voted to reject all bids received for the construction of what was called the TIGER Trail, killing the project but not erasing the connectivity issues the trail was intended to solve.The most important development during the TIGER Trail was the emphasis on equity and making not driving a real option in Northfield. So, back to the drawing table.

From Big Project to Small Improvements

Drawing lines on the map (me, with George Kinney (L) and Eric Johnson(R). Photo: BikeNorthfield
George Kinney (L), me and Eric Johnson(R). Photo: BikeNorthfield

BikeNorthfield members (I’m part of the Steering Committee) worked with City staff to develop the improvements to be discussed tonight. As we stared at the map, “low hanging fruit” was uttered more than once as we looked for the most logical street links from neighborhoods to Greenvale Park School, west side churches, and downtown as well as Saint Olaf College to downtown.

  • The proposed improvements use signage and striping to provide clearly marked bike lanes on busier streets or shared space on lower traffic volume streets.
  • Second Street is prioritized as a bike-friendly crossing of Highway 3. A bike-specific sensor for the traffic signal was installed last year allowing bikes to trigger a green light for crossing.

Overall, these changes do more than the TIGER trail project by creating a neighborhood-wide network of routes guiding people on bikes to the 2nd Street/Highway 3 intersection. The proposed network also dovetails with plans to improve pedestrian crossing of Highway 3 at 3rd Street and Fremouw. On the other hand, once at the 2nd Street intersection, crossing the highway will continue to require confidence on a bike which is unlikely to inspire many to ride. The bike sensor at Second Street requires riding boldly into the center of the traffic lane to trip the loop sensor and ride across.

The improvements in more detail

Map of West Side improvements
Map of West Side improvements
  • Bike lanes would be striped on
    • Dresden Avenue connecting to Lincoln Parkway (and Greenvale Park School) and Spring Street (between Lincoln and Greenvale Avenues);
    • Saint Olaf Avenue connecting to Lincoln Street N (and Lincoln Parkway, etc.);
    • Second Street West between Spring Street and Highway 3 where cyclists could utilize the bike-sensor.
  • Shared lane markings or sharrows (“Share the road arrows”) would be added to
    • Lincoln Street from Saint Olaf Avenue to 1st Street West (connecting the bike lane from Saint Olaf to Lincoln);
    • First Street West (utilizing the path through Way Park) to Spring Street and Second Street West; and
    • Spring Street between Greenvale and Second Street West to link to the bike lane to the signalized intersection.

How you can help

Ride with us TONIGHT: A low speed, casual bike ride to tour the improvement area will take place before the Council worksession, September 22, 2015 beginning from Bridge Square @ 6pm.

Communicate your support for these improvements: if you want to make safer and more pleasant to bike to these places, let the City know. You can contact:

Looking ahead

The case for active transportation continues to grow and push bike and pedestrian improvements from “amenities” to necessities for public health, the environment, livability, equity and economic development.

Incremental changes like the ones on the Council’s agenda tonight can help connect the West Side and then lead to more robust thinking about continuing to work toward a low-stress bicycling network connecting Northfield which fixes the broken link in the chain at Highway 3.

___________________

Another invitation: Steve Clark, the League of American Bicyclists Bike Friendly Community Specialist, will be in Northfield next week to help us think further about becoming a Bronze Level Bike Friendly Community and, beyond the label, how we connect people with places and each other. More on this very soon, but here are the essentials:

Tuesday, September 29, 2015
8:00 am:                      Gather at City Hall
8:30 am:                      Depart on bike ride with Steve Clark
10:30 am – noon:         Return to City Hall for Q & A and planning session
Further information contact: BikeNorthfield chair, Bruce Anderson: bruce@sustainablecommunitysolutions.com or see the BikeNorthfield Facebook page for updates: https://www.facebook.com/BikeNorthfield

 

 

 

 

 

BikeNorthfield’s mission is to work with community and regional partners to promote safe and convenient bicycling for transportation, recreation, and tourism in and around Northfield.

 

 


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.