During the 20th century, the transportation systems in our city were planned and built in support of motor vehicles. Oftentimes this has been to the detriment of those who rely upon public transit, walking, and cycling. As a 21st century city, Minneapolis strives to do better – to be more environmentally sustainable and to understand that its success is reliant upon ALL its people being able to get around easily – and we have shifted toward an emphasis on “multi-modality” in transportation planning. This has resulted in the development of our new Complete Streets Policy. As part of the leadership team that developed Complete Streets and its emphasis on prioritizing true multi-modal solutions to our transportation challenges, I am excited to help Minneapolis head in the right direction.
Building upon the guidance provided through the Access Minneapolis transportation policy plan, the Minneapolis Plan for Sustainable Growth (also known as the Comprehensive Plan), and other policies, we developed the Complete Streets Policy to inform the decision-making that happens at all stages of transportation projects and initiatives. Complete Streets now requires that planning staff and leadership prioritize transportation users in the following order: pedestrians, bicyclists or transit users, then those driving automobiles. We are putting people before cars.
If you would like to view the entire Complete Streets Policy, here is the link:
We’re already seeing impact from Complete Streets.
We’ve already seen the result of this shift in thinking away from outdated 20th century modes. In Ward 1 alone we’ve begun to move the needle with the following transportation projects:
- Increased access to better bicycle infrastructure – the 22nd Avenue and Presidents Bike Boulevards, the 18th Avenue Bikeway, bicycle lanes on Central Avenue (the first bike lanes on any state highway in Minnesota!), the Broadway Street bike/pedestrian path, traffic-calming circles along the 5th Street Bike Boulevard;
- Safer means for people to cross busy intersections – the dedicated crossing across Stinson/New Brighton Boulevard to the Diagonal Trail, and the bicycle traffic island at Polk and Lowry, a citywide policy of increased durable markings and zebra crossings; and
- Increased focus on sidewalks, transit stops, and the safety of intersections in the recently adopted Lowry Avenue NE Plan. Though Lowry Avenue NE falls under the purview of Hennepin County, the city and my office worked closely with county planning staff to ensure that the needs of our pedestrians, cyclists, and transit users were at the forefront in the development of the Plan.
I believe that smart, forward-thinking strategies like those promoted through Complete Streets reflect the premise that our transportation infrastructure needs to work for people regardless of whether they drive a car. Smart “multi-modal” strategies serve to fuel our economic engine by getting people and goods around safely and efficiently and by reducing time-wasting traffic congestion. They also promote social sustainability - helping to keep our older residents independent longer, promoting healthier lifestyles, reducing pollution and climate-changing emissions, and providing opportunity for the community connections that are more likely to happen outside the confines of a single-occupant car. I am excited to continue the work of building a transportation system for all – through projects already in development and through projects we haven’t even yet begun to tackle.