The City Council has approved the 2016 budget after a contentious hearing with lots of community angst around potential funding for upgrades at the 4th police precinct--a proposed tweak that was dropped in the end. In addition to $1.2 billion in other investments, the budget includes smart bicycle and street investments and one last-minute cut that impacts a planned new trail connection. Here are the details. We thank Mayor Hodges and the City Council for their work.
Big commitment to protected bikeways
The budget ensures that 2016 will mean a bunch of new and improved protected bikeways, including:
- protected bike lanes on 3rd Avenue downtown with greenspace improvements too;
- Improved Loring Bikeway at Hennepin/Lyndale;
- finishing 26th Avenue North trail;
- protected bike lanes on the 10th Avenue bridge near the U of M; and
- $760,000 for additional stand-alone protected bikeways from the City's plan (likely will build 4-6 additional miles).
Bikeway-specific funding accounts for 1.4% of capital funding for transportation projects. Additional investments
The budget also includes $5.3 million for protected bikeways in 2017-2020 and a number other future protected bikeways and potential future protected bikeways ranging from new routes at the U of M in 2019 to the reconstruction of Hennepin Avenue downtown in 2020, which could potentially include protected bike lanes if that is the community will.
Other bike routes and improvements funded:
- 38th Street south from Minnehaha to Hiawatha will be reconstructed with bike lanes
- 54th Street South will be reconstructed with mostly complete bike lanes
- Potential for bike lanes or improved bikeways as part of repaving projects, including on Franklin Ave SE and Nicollet Ave S of 40th.
- Dedicated bike/walk safety funds are again included in the budget, which support improved pedestrian crossings, bike lanes, and bicycle boulevard improvements. This pot of funding is very important to be able to make timely and targeted walking and biking improvements.
Funding for summer sweeping and winter bikeway maintenance and bicycle education:
- Includes more funding for routine summer and winter bikeway maintenance, which is being incorporated as part of street maintenance budget as it should be.
- Includes first-ever specific support for bicycle education work like learn-to-ride classes and bicycle and walking encouragement work through Minneapolis Bike Week and a new walk promotion event.
Vineland Place Reconstruction Cut
On December 9, the City Council voted 10-3 to cut $400,000 toward a reconstruction of Vineland Place--the street that goes between the Walker Art Center and the Sculpture Garden. This project--a partnership between the City, the Walker, and the local watershed district--would have narrowed Vineland significantly, added a new protected bikeway to connect Loring Park and Kenwood Parkway, and added stormwater management features. The amendment was pursued by Council Member Lisa Goodman, who represents the area and has said that other streets are in greater need and that the Walker can pay for the street themselves. The amendment was offered by Council Member Kevin Reich, who said he was concerned it didn't go through the standard capital process. The Bicycle Coalition had joined the Walker and a number of other stakeholders in supporting the project and we're disappointed to see it cut as we think it would have been a good value for the investment at the right time and would have made a valuable trail connection. Council Members Bender, Cano, and Gordon voted against the cut and we thank them.
Police bias training and body cameras funded
In light of increased focus on police-community relations after the officer-involved shooting of Jamar Clark, the budget was amended to include funding for all police officers to receive implicit bias training. There are additional funds for police body cameras and other investments to hopefully curb police brutality and racism and pave the way for better community relations and safer city for everyone.
We mention these investments as we know that both fear of crime and fear of police racism and brutality are barriers to more biking. More on this topic here.