The Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition campaign to place a cycle track in Southwest Minneapolis took a hit Tuesday evening after significant opposition arose at a community meeting held to discuss bicycle facilities and other improvements on Penn Avenue South. Penn will undergo reconstruction from 50th Street to 62nd Street in 2013 and 2014. Because this stretch of road takes you over Minnehaha Creek and continues over Highway 62 into Richfield, we want bicycle facilities on this reconstruction project.
The city engineer came to the meeting with 2 plans for bicycle facilities on the newly constructed road. Plan A would place bicycle lanes in both directions only from 60th Street to 62nd Street. There was no objection to that plan. Plan B would build a 12-block cycle track that would be a shared and divided bike-pedestrian trail on the West side of Penn. The track would be off the street on a raised grade level. There would be exceptions made for the commercial nodes at 54th Street and 50th Street. The plan would also remove parking from the West side of Penn.
Opposition arose from a large and vocal group of seniors who attended the community meeting. The seniors said they were property owners on Penn in the affected area. They had numerous objections to the cycle track plan which basically centered around the loss of parking. Many seniors wanted the ability to park in from of their own homes and not have to cross Penn Avenue after parking. Others did not feel comfortable sharing a combined path with cyclists. And others felt the plan catered to the relatively few bicyclists who travel on Penn. The opposition was not impressed that Penn Avenue South is on the Bicycle Master Plan and that bicycle facilities encourages more people to bike.
The MBC will continue to advocate for a cycle track facility on the Penn Avenue reconstruction. We will keep you posted.