West River Parkway

I went on a leisurely bicycle ride down West River Parkway today and snapped some photos while riding. The Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board is in the process of reconstructing the corridor. There are still signs of construction, but the bike and pedestrian facilities are already in place in what I assume is their final state. I’ve been really excited about this project – the old bikeways along West River Parkway were in pretty poor shape.

For the most part, the new trail is great. The new pavement provides a much smoother ride than the old pavement. The ornamental streetlights are attractive, and as near as I can tell, there won’t be any more street signs placed right in the middle of the bikeway anymore. Here’s a slideshow of the photos I took today:
There were a few things that I would have done differently:
1. There are a few locations where I would have removed a few trees to avoid awkward curves in the trail. I appreciate that the MPRB tried to preserve as many trees as possible, but in some instances, the new trail suffers because of it. In the long run, we would have been better off removing a few trees now and planting twice as many new trees in more appropriate locations to replace them.
2. There are a handful of parking lot access points along the roadway where the bikeway and the roadways intersect. In all these locations, the automobiles are given preference over the bikeway users, despite the fact that the bikeway users vastly outnumber the parking lot users. At each crossing, cyclists will have to ride through two access ramps and over two concrete curb strips – clearly entering “automobile space” as they do it. A much better design would have provided cyclists with an uninterrupted pavement surface (or at least one without ramps and curbs) that requires cars to cross the “bicycle space.” Such a design would be safer for all users.
3. The bicycle and pedestrian facilities are separate throughout the corridor, although they combine frequently when limited space requires. Some of the areas where the combinations and separations occur are a little bit awkward.
So what do you think of the new design? What do you like? What would you have done differently?

6 thoughts on “West River Parkway”

  1. Looks like a beautiful fall! Nice pictures. I kind of like the bends in the trail to preserve the old grown trees….there are only certain parts of COS that have the big old trees and I miss them.

  2. I remember checking out the plans for the rebuild and thought parking areas were going to be changed to having a single entrance/exit to cut down on the number of crossing pedestrians and bikers would have to make. Maybe some will get done later?

    Overall, I think it's a vast improvement over what they had.

    Good point about the trees. People in the area are very territorial about their trees. Do you remember the LRT issues?

  3. Ed, the changes to the parking lots you mention were completed. The parking lots have only single entrance/exit points – that by itself is a major improvement.

    I didn't move to MPLS until 2005 (from the far-off land of legalized prostitution & gambling: Nevada), so I missed all the Hiawatha controversy. I did read a book a while back called Our Way or the Highway by MPR's Mary Losure about the Minnehaha Free State & the fight over the realignment of HWY 55… That sounded pretty nuts.

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