A Hennepin County proposal to redo a major north Minneapolis street without installing bike lanes cleared the Minneapolis City Council Friday -- despite reservations.
The proposed layout of the road initially stoked enough criticism in committee that it was sent forward without recommendation. The road reconstruction is part of a larger rethinking of Penn Avenue, intended to accommodate new high-speed bus service and spur development.
The so-called arterial rapid bus line is expected to deliver major improvements for transit riders on the North Side, which has been largely sidestepped by light rail plans. The concept, which makes its debut on Snelling Avenue this year, features pre-boarding payment, fewer stops, real-time arrival information and traffic signal priority.
A steering committee of local leaders making recommendations on the Penn reconstruction advised that the bike lanes be jettisoned in favor of additional parking and a tree-lined boulevard. They suggested exploring a bike facility on nearby Queen Avenue instead.
A number of cycling advocates oppose the Queen Avenue concept, however, partly because of obstacles along the route. In a motion Friday, the council requested that the county work with the city help fund a bike facility along a north-south route, potentially at Thomas Avenue.
"In all of this talk about bike lanes, I think it can get lost that this is first and foremost a transit project," said Blong Yang, a council member representing north Minneapolis. "We want BRT on Penn Avenue."