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.
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
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:
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:
Building a high-quality bicycle and pedestrian network doesn’t happen quickly. This should be obvious, but at the local level where every project seems to promise to complete success or utter failure, it is helpful to remember this.
The Economist just posted this about Sao Paulo’s efforts to improve cycling. Sao Paulo has a committed and passionate mayor who has, in less than two years in office, lead the way to 179km of bicycle lanes. That’s more kilometers of bike lanes in less than two years than the preceding 33 years when the city first considered adding cycle facilities. Mayor Fernando Haddad has promised 400km by the end of next year; that distance would put Sao Paulo in the league as Copenhagen.
Northfield doesn’t need anywhere close to 400km of bike lanes. With strong leadership at city hall, how many miles of bike lanes could Northfield build and how fast? In 30 years, what could Northfield look like?