Eliminating a Greenway Double Threat

We're making good progress working with Council Member Gary Schiff and City staff to improve safety where the Midtown Greenway crosses East 28th Street.  Greenway bicyclists (and pedestrians) know the difficulty of crossing safely here, near Hiawatha and the Sabo Bridge.  Until last fall, the greenway crossed two lanes of traffic in each direction, creating a "double threat" in which one car would stop but the other could drive through the intersection without seeing a person crossing in the crosswalk.

Recognizing the safety concerns of this configuration, the City's Department of Public Works (DPW) eliminated the outside travel lane last fall, installing a merge sign and painting cross-hatched lines on the outside lane.  Over the winter, the hatch marks wore off in the ice and snow and, sadly, early this summer a cyclist was struck and seriously injured in the crosswalk.

After an initial meeting with Coalition volunteers and Council Member Schiff, DPW staff conducted a study of the crossing to see if drivers were complying with the elimination of the outside lane. Counts showed that approximately 20% of drivers traveling eastbound (toward Hiawatha) are illegally using the outside travel lane, despite the sign and renewed hash marks.  I saw dozens of cars use the outside space when I stopped to observe the crossing for about 15 minutes this afternoon.

Untitled from Lisa Bender on Vimeo.

Our goal for the crossing is to include a physical barrier that would keep cars from using the outside area. In the long-term, we'd like to see a curb extension at least on the eastbound side. This would physically block cars from entering the area and also benefit people using the crosswalk by minimizing the crossing distance and making people more visible.  In the short-term, we've asked if candlestick bollards (like the ones used on First Avenue last year) could be used to ensure compliance with the elimination of the outside lane until a more permanent solution can be built.

City staff is currently working to estimate the cost of these solutions.  Given the volumes of bicyclists and pedestrians using this unsafe crossing every day, we will continue to advocate for both temporary and permanent barriers to keep the cars from using that outside space.

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