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Minneapolis bike lanes --
Marquette Avenue

John S. Allen

Marquette Avenue in Minneapolis, Minnesota  is one-way northbound for general traffic, with a contraflow bus lane and contraflow bike lane southbound. As shown in the photo below, the bike lane is in the center of the roadway, to the left of the bus lane.

Marquette Avenue bike lane
just west of 5th Street South

DSCF0114bikebus.jpg (29120 bytes)

Signal actuation in the bike lane would be necessary to give bicycles the green light if the traffic signals are actuated rather than timed. If bicycles were detected, then the light could be held red for traffic in the opposite direction when it is green for cyclists.

The photos below show that there is in fact no actuation. The light can be green when no cyclist or bus is traveling south; also, a southbound cyclist does not necessarily trigger the light. Rather, left-turning traffic in the opposite direction is allowed to start up when a cyclist is in the intersection.

Marquette Avenue bike lane at 7th Street South

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DSCF0118bus lane.jpg (27325 bytes)

The bus lane/bike lane combination is similar to the one on University Avenue in Madison, Wisconsin, but with some important differences.

The lane to the left of the bike lane on Marquette Avenue carries motor traffic in the opposite direction. Therefore, a cyclist would have very little time to avoid a crash if a motorist initiates a left turn without yielding. A close encounter of this kind is shown in the photos above. In the first photo, the cyclist is crossing the intersection against a red light. The car second in line is flashing its left turn signal. In the second photo, the car is turning left and the cyclist (under the green arrow) is continuing in the bike lane.

While there is a designated bicycle facility for northbound traffic in the opposite direction on a parallel street, there is none on Marquette Avenue itself, and some northbound bicyclists use the bike lane, as shown in the photo below. Northbound cyclists could legally and properly ride at the right side of the street, but a tendency to think that the bike lane is "the right place to ride" apparently extends even to wrong-way travel.

Wrong way in bike lane,
Marquette Avenue at 6th Street South

DSCF0119bus lane.jpg (29482 bytes)

The bike lane ends at 12th Street South, but the bus lane continues. 12th Street South is one-way eastbound, so the only lawful maneuvers for cyclists here are to turn left onto a bike lane on the left side of 12th Street South, or to exit the street onto the sidewalk.

End of bike lane at 12th Street South

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There is a bus stop right on the corner before the end of the bike lane. Looking back in the opposite direction, a cyclist is approaching in the bike lane while a bus is picking up and discharging passengers.

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A few seconds later, the cyclist has overtaken the bus on the left and crossed in front of it. As the bus begins to move forward, the cyclist is preparing to cross 12th Street and continue along Marquette Avenue on the sidewalk.

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A few seconds later, the bus turns left across the bike lane.

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In the next block, the bus lane is separated from the opposite-direction lanes by a narrow, raised median barrier. Another cyclist is approaching, traveling opposite the designated direction of travel in the bus lane.

DSCF0128bus lane.jpg (22709 bytes)

He continues along Marquette Avenue, still traveling opposite the designated direction.

DSCF0129bus lane.jpg (15503 bytes)

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Contents 2003, John S. Allen
May be reproduced,,
if complete and with attribution.
Last modified 18 September 2003