Joe Urban | Sam Newberg, Urbanist

Dear Hennepin County

Dateline: 2:59 pm August 14, 2013 Filed under:

Thank you for your response. I’m sure citizens and voters will take these in to consideration and get back to you with additional questions regarding the reconstruction of Minnehaha Avenue. And I see we have our first questions now.

You cite five pedestrian crashes from 2010 to 2012 and two pedestrian fatalities in 2009 (Question 26, Page 4 of the response). How many vehicle crashes have occurred in that time and how many fatalities? What is the primary culprit of these accidents (speed, inattentiveness, etc.)?

With regard to trees, why do you continue to provide a false choice between cycletracks and street trees? We’re asked to choose between a 10% reduction with no cycletrack versus a 20% reduction in trees from the cycletrack. Where is the “no tree loss” option? If anything, Minnehaha needs more trees, not less.

Why does your explanation about cycletrack safety issues at intersections (Question 81, Page 12) seem to infer that bicycles are second-class or somehow in the way of moving/turning cars? What about safety improvements like signal priority for bikes, public education for drivers to be more aware of cyclists or stiffer penalties for hitting a cyclist/pedestrian?

Why do you say you will “include provisions to manage speed through the corridor” (Question 11, Page 2) when left turn lanes will be added at several intersections that will likely increase speeds? (With regard to speed, a “forgiving road” becomes a “permissive road,” making it less safe as a result.) What will you specifically do to “manage speed” throughout the corridor? Some answers are given (Question 32, Page 5), but can you verify whether you will actually use these or are simply “considering” them, and explain which of these are most likely to slow traffic?

Why are these questions left unanswered? VMT forecasts in particular are a “chicken and egg” situation and need to be based on much more than traffic growth from 2008 to 2012. Build a road to accommodate 15,000 vehicles per day and it will do so; I’m not sure increased traffic is an outcome anyone really wants.

Why do you cite one statistic from a cycletrack study from Denmark (Question 44, Page 7), which indicates a 28% increase in injuries to pedestrians due to the construction of cycletracks, without any context? Why do you omit that the same study indicates cycletracks also increased cycle traffic 18% to 20% and reduced car traffic by 9% to 10%? Why do you omit that cycletracks resulted in three important gains in road safety: fewer accidents where cars hit cyclists from the rear, fewer accidents with cyclists turning left, and fewer accidents where cyclists rode in to a parked car? Lastly, why do you ignore the conclusion of that study, which states “construction of cycletracks will undoubtedly result in gains in health from increased physical activity. These gains are much, much greater than the losses in health resulting from a slight decline in road safety”?

(Incidentally, the cycletrack study in question also recommends raised safety tables at non-signalized intersections, painted cycle crossings at signalized intersections and recommends NOT reducing on-street car parking (because people then park on side streets and add more vehicle movements across the cycletrack, increasing risk of accident).)

The last question (Question 123, Page 18) states “this meeting has been high jacked by cyclists.” I understand how people can come to that conclusion but I don’t see this as a cyclist-versus-the-rest-of-us situation. This is a long-term investment in a public right of way that needs to take in to account many modes of traffic but also attempt to achieve important goals such as public health and reduced VMT over time. This isn’t about today’s cyclists, but rather tomorrow’s cyclists and all users of the street. Why does Hennepin County continue to place traffic speed and volume ahead of these goals?

Thank you.

This was crossposted at


  1. Good coverage on Kare 11 News –

    Comment by Joe Urban — August 16, 2013 @ 1:38 pm

  2. […] Dear Hennepin County […]

    Pingback by Joe Urban » Blog Archive » A Minnehaha Avenue for All — September 25, 2013 @ 9:42 pm

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