In 1980, Hennepin and 1st Avenue were converted to one-way streets in an effort to minimize air pollution downtown. Now that car emissions have been improved, Hennepin and 1st Avenue are reverting back to two-way streets to save downtown businesses by making it easier to get to the business of your choice — no more going around the block ad nauseum.
Along with the change in traffic flow, bike lanes and bike boxes have been added. The change is set for October 10th. Are we ready for this? How confusing will it be? Will it work? Will it be safe for bicyclists? Time will tell.
Hennepin Avenue, First Avenue Traffic Change
Revitalization efforts are being made downtown by changing traffic flow in the following blocks:
- Hennepin Ave from 1st St N to 12th St N
- 1st Avenue North from 2nd St N to 8th St N
- Hawthorne Ave from 8th St N to 12th St N
The change is part of a 10-year plan by the City of Minneapolis to make the downtown more accessible to vehicles, public transportation, bicycles, and pedestrians. Officials hope that this change will make for even more vibrant main streets to showcase what is best about the city. City officials recognize that theaters, restaurants, major retail stores, and other businesses along Hennepin and 1st avenues are destinations and more easily reached by two-way traffic.
Bike Box: Biking and Walking in Minneapolis
Bicyclists and pedestrians will see improvements to make biking and walking downtown a more positive experience. New traffic signals have been installed that include pedestrian countdown timers, there are new bike lanes on First Avenue, there are shared bike-bus-right-turn lanes on Hennepin Avenue, and there are new bike boxes to make bicycling easier for commuters.
A bike box is a 10′ deep area between the crosswalk and stop bars at an intersection and marked clearly with large bike symbols. (as in image above) Left-turning bicyclists can get in front of motor traffic stopped at the red light. Motor vehicles are not allowed in the bike box while stopped. Only key intersections have the bike box feature.
New Bike Lane for Minneapolis
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Minneapolis ranks as the #2 bicycling city in the nation. The city has 40 miles of dedicated bicycle lanes and 83 miles of off-street bicycle paths. Bicycling is a cost-effective, eco-friendly, and healthy way to get around town.
Hennepin Avenue will have one through lane each way, designated left-turn lanes, and a combined / shared bus-bike-right-turn lane which will be marked with “sharrow” symbols on the pavement (shown at right). Bicyclists are encouraged to use the shared lane, but the other lanes for moving, passing, and turning are still legal and available for use.
The new traffic flow on 1st Avenue includes a 6′ wide bike lane along the curb. Off-peak parallel parking will be allowed next to the bike lane. The planners thought this would work as a buffer to further protect bicyclists. Parallel parking will not be allowed during the following times:
- 7 – 9 a.m., Monday – Friday
- 4 – 6 p.m., Monday – Friday
- 10 p.m. – 6 a.m. Friday & Saturday nights from 3rd to 6th streets
The City of Minneapolis is committed to the 4500 bicyclists that regularly commute in downtown. They have a bicycle master plan, a bike cost share program to help businesses install bike racks to facilitate employees commuting, and they rent out bike lockers at parking ramps.
This information has been provided as a service of TSR Injury Law serving Minneapolis and the state of Minnesota. Our personal injury attorneys are skilled, ethical litigators who care about justice for the people. If you have been in a bicycle accident, pedestrian accident, or car accident, and need legal representation to interact with the insurance companies, call 612-TSR-TIME or submit free contact form.