Hennepin Avenue redesign – Letter to the Editor

I want to respond to (and ask a question of) Carin Peterson in their letter to the editor dated Aug. 8, 2022. In this letter, Peterson expressed frustration at the city’s Hennepin Avenue redevelopment plan which “turns Hennepin into nothing more than a commuter line.” Peterson insists bike lanes have no place on Hennepin Avenue and would rather not have “angry drivers pushed off major thoroughfares by unsafe, under-utilized bike lanes.” At the same time, the author decries the “painful attack on small businesses” that results from fewer on-street parking spots.
I recently moved to Minneapolis, so I want to learn why the Hennepin Avenue redesign between Lake and Douglas is so loathed. On one hand, Hennepin Avenue has tons of vibrant small businesses – on this I agree with Peterson. But on the other hand, if the goal is to keep local businesses open, why would we prioritize “angry motorists” on a hurried commute over cyclists and bus riders who can easily hop off at several shops along their way? I am a bike commuter and would LOVE to visit Hennepin Avenue on my route home to snack, drink, and eat. This section of Hennepin feels so promising to me – it could be a pedestrianized, bikeable dining destination for both weekday happy hour and weekend pleasure cruises. But right now, it misses the mark. If you want people like me to support Hennepin Avenue businesses seven days a week, that street NEEDS a separated bike lane. It feels too unsafe to bike down Hennepin Avenue in its current state, and too congested to take transit. When Hennepin has a separated two-way bike lane, I will frequent the entire Hennepin Avenue corridor – Nico’s Patio and Sebastian Joe’s may well become my go-to spots. And by the nature of biking, I’ll discover spots I never knew about!
I understand the character and charm that small businesses bring to an area. Just like so many have mentioned, it’s important to support them. Without a bike lane on Hennepin Avenue, small businesses get less support. My question for Peterson is this: Why do you want to steer bicyclists (many of whom are hungry and have money!) away from Hennepin Avenue?

Albert Leicester

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