BY ED FELIEN
Thursday, March 5, from 4 to 7 pm, Hennepin County will be sponsoring a Franklin Ave. Open House at Plymouth Congregational Church, 1900 Nicollet Ave. The county will be presenting, for public review, designs for the future of Franklin Avenue.
Our Streets has had a profound effect in pushing cars off the streets on Park and Portland Avenues. Lyndale Avenue was their latest conquest. Now they have set their sights on Franklin Avenue.
They are proposing the county reduce car lanes to 10 feet and increase sidewalk widths to 8 feet in their ongoing struggle against autos.
First, yes, cars are a major source of pollution. But let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Mechanized travel was a wonderful development in the 19th century. The internal combustion engine was an advancement over a horse and buggy. But we don’t need the explosions of fossil fuels to power our automobiles, we can use the hydrogen explosions on the sun 92 million miles away for all the power we may ever need for almost everything. Going solar and building electric cars need to be major objectives of all levels of government—including the Hennepin County Board.
Second, yes, we should do everything we can to prevent accidents between cars and bicycles. The original reason given for eliminating automobile lanes and dramatically increasing the bike lanes was that cyclists deserved a wider margin of safety. With human lives at stake it’s hard to argue against that reasoning, but maybe there’s a better and safer alternative to bikes and cars fighting it out on major arteries. The Dutch have been working on this problem for almost a hundred years. They do everything they can to separate car and bicycle and pedestrian traffic. There are separate streets and separate traffic signals for bikes and cars. Instead of Park and Portland, why didn’t the traffic engineers give them Oakland Avenue with right of way and diverters to stop cars from cutting through the neighborhood? They could have designed it so you could cross Oakland at only 24th, 26th, and 28th Streets. Instead of wider bike lanes on Lyndale, why not make Aldrich Avenue a limited access bicycle right of way?
If you’re interested in the future of traffic of all kinds on Franklin Avenue, you should go to the meeting Thursday.