#MDM: 4th Street Bike Corridor

Friends,

I was at Gunflint most of last week hence the reason you haven’t seen many posts. I am now back, on track and ready to roll.

Today’s MDM is brought to you by BIKING. Something I do quite a bit and something we need to invest in more.

 

I’m writing this as if you’re familiar with Mankato and it’s streets.

I think that Mankato is sitting on a great opportunity for bike infrastructure.

4th street runs essentially the entire length of the valley part of Mankato. It’s a wide road that doesn’t carry many cars in a given day (I think, I’ll get to that later). My idea? Put a dedicated (preferably separated) bike lane that runs the whole length from Tourtellotte Park to Lincoln Park. It would be a safer, faster way for bikers to run that section of the city and it could serve as an expressway of sorts, dumping people off near sections of downtown that they need to be.

I’m sure you have questions. Let me try and answer some.

Why 4th?

Go and look at Google maps and you’ll notice something very interesting about 4th street. For its entire length before Madison Ave. 4th is a two-way street. However, right before Rock St. it has this break off parking lane thing. I assume this was the remnants of a divided boulevard that just got turned into a combined street. Then after Madison it becomes a one way through a quiet residential neighborhood. A great low-risk place for a bike lane–not to mention. Those roads are huge over there.

already one way

This break-off before rock street provides a perfect opportunity for a bike lane. It’s pretty much already built in all you have to do is paint the lane. You can see the parking road in red.

4th st. split

Yes, I know, this split only happens for about 4 blocks, but I don’t think there are any other roads in the valley that do the same thing. Also, as I said, it’s already built so why not use it for more than just parking?

More for 4th.

I’ve found that 4th would be a good location for a couple of other reasons. One of the obvious ones being its proximity to downtown and Franklin Elementary. The other is that there are a few blocks that have no residential on them. One block is taken by (names will escape me) that big beautiful apartment building, one is the Government Center and the new Vine adult center, another is the courthouse and another is that assisted living place down from the Downtowners (I think it’s assisted living..?) and finally there’s Washington Park. A great destination and an anchor in that neighborhood.

4th st supplement

4th no residential

I might be wrong (I drafted the idea for this article a long time ago so forgive me,) but I’m pretty sure those blocks don’t allow on-street parking on that side of the street, making it ideal to put a bike lane there.
EDIT: They do, nevermind.

Let’s also not forget that this thing would end at Tourtellotte Park. A major recreation area for lots of Mankato citizens. It has a pool, tennis courts (soon to be pickleball courts I think) and other recreation amenities.

I know I mentioned that this was a low traffic road and I’m confident of that. MNDOTs traffic mapping application didn’t have specs for the south side of 4th, so I grabbed the ones from the north side after it’s a one way (which would reduce the amount of traffic.)

Screen Shot 2014-08-25 at 9.19.18 AM

Even if we doubled those traffic counts for the south side, that’s still not very much as far as road capacity is concerned. A two-lane road is considered at capacity when it handles 10,000 or more a day.

The addition of a bike lane on this street would be very, very cheap in comparison to our other infrastructure obligations. I would personally like to see something like this:

seperated bike lane

or this:

4th-street-remix

However, I would be more than happy to see something as simple as this:

4th

What I’m talking about is nothing really ground breaking or new, in fact, when a bike lane runs on a one-way street they usually call it a contra-flow bike lane. They are gaining popularity and seem to be safer than traditional bike lanes.

This really would be a simple improvement that would add a lot to the downtown/valley area and seeing as how we have a bike for our logo, it strikes me as a no-brainer, let’s hope officials see it that way too.

About Matthias Leyrer

Matthias Leyrer is a resident of Mankato looking to restore a fraction of its old glory. He writes about the economic, aesthetic, practical and financial issues facing the city of Mankato going forward.