Minneapolis ponders 'Greenway' street conversion (no cars allowed)

Imagine if your city street was stripped of its pavement and turned into a bike/pedestrian-friendly “greenway.” Trees, grass, and paths replace pavement and cars whizzing by.

That scenario is being considered in Minneapolis, where the city is working to develop plans to convert a low-traffic street in north Minneapolis to a no-cars-allowed “linear park.”

Minneapolis Greenway route.jpg

Image reveals imaginary street converted into a “greenway” with no motorized traffic

No small plan, the North Minneapolis Greenway would run more than 30 blocks north to south. Current home owners would lose access to the street, with parking in alleyways or small lots constructed near the green space.

The proposed route runs through North Minneapolis, the poorest and most run-down part of the town. It would link a huge swath of the city neighborhoods to downtown and connecting trails that stream through the rest of the city (including right past our office here at GearJunkie).

What do you think? Utopian community planning or Big Brother getting in the way with a crazy scheme? Either way, the Greenway plan could change the nature of a swath of the city for good.

—Stephen Regenold

North Minneapolis Greenway map.jpg

Maps of proposed greenway route through city

Posted by Jake - 02/20/2013 12:31 PM

Here is a link to the full size map: North Greenway Map

Posted by Tim Parlin - 02/20/2013 01:04 PM

I love it. Make this one and keep them coming!

Posted by Nate - 02/20/2013 01:37 PM

While I would love to see something like this in theory, I wonder what the reaction of the homeowners along the route is. Even in residential areas, Minneapolis has difficulty with parking. While this plan would offer a great way for residents to reduce their car use, having their parking pulled from them would be a decision that would need some serious remediation.

Posted by akathedevil - 02/20/2013 02:23 PM

What are they going to do in case of an emergency? how will the fire truck get to the house?

Posted by Mase - 02/20/2013 02:52 PM

@Nate – I agree that the reaction of homeowners along the route is possibly not supportive, I have to disagree with your description of having “their parking pulled.” The street is not for their private exclusive use so, although it is often treated as if it is. Public subsidising of private car storage is thankfully something that is being slowly addressed by city after city.

This area of Mpls, like a lot of it, has alleys and garage/car ports off the alley, so hopefully many owners will see the value in this proposal. A close example is the Kenilworth Greenway. Some residents were (as shown, wrongly) upset that it was going in thinking crime would come with it. Instead, it has been not only a boon to the users but to their property values. This proposal would do the same for these owners.

Posted by Rick - 02/20/2013 07:25 PM

I can’t believe that a homeowner would not want a natural backdrop that would raise their property values. Do you realize how many train tracks crisscross the NE? This would be a major beautification to an area that really lacks the natural vistas Minnesota displays so well.

Posted by Matthew - 02/20/2013 08:06 PM

For more info on the feedback from residents, follow the link in the article, and scroll down the page to the “Accomplishments and Results” section, which has links to some detailed reports in this paragraph: Fall 2013 report completed. The City conducted a community engagment process in the Fall of 2012 to gather input from community members on the greenway project, and a report is now available summarizing that process. Download the two-page executive summary (PDF or Word) or the full report (PDF or Word).

Posted by Dr. Evil - 02/21/2013 11:36 AM

I think a greenway like this in a place that is buried under snow 5 months out of the year is a really dumb idea.

Posted by Minneapolisite - 02/21/2013 06:43 PM

Yeah, the Midtown Greenway is such a huge failure because it’s in a place buried under snow for 5 months and Mpls only has the 2nd highest number of frequent bike commuters in a large(ish) city in the nation after Portland.

My main concern would be how well lit and trafficked it would be. This covers a large stretch of North as predictably cuts through nice and no-so-nice areas. The other issue is the lack of destinations that are easily reached from the greenway. Depending on what’s nearby it could attract some new neighborhood spots that draw visitors from outside the neighborhood like some current popular destinations do.

After all, there is no lake in North that can serve as an attractive natural amenity for the neighborhood, so why not create one with the greenway?

Posted by T.C. Worley - 02/22/2013 12:16 PM

I’m not sure how the parking would work, but the route is stellar. I ride nearly this exact route now, just criss-crossing neighborhood streets. My chief concern is not getting mugged, but rather riding in an area where cyclists are not expected, or respected. I ride very defensively and have had close calls with people rolling stop signs out of habit and such. In a purely selfish way, I hope this trail becomes reality. I do foresee more parkway crimes, but this has proven true wherever bike paths exist.

Posted by Rand Retterath - 02/25/2013 03:50 PM

Stephen, I hope you are getting the whole story here, this is nothing new, it is a rehash of plans developed in the original NRP visioning proces in the early 90’s complete with all the same shortcomings it had then. Principle among them is the involvement of law enforcement, representative neighborhood feed back, path agreement (what actually makes sense) and a few other items. I sat through the latest round of this a couple months ago and was mortified that this was being passed off as something new. Someone just got a new source of grant money to perform a study and rather than expand into the unanswered areas which require work, research and investigation, the old plan was dusted off and paraded through the neighborhood groups once again. I am not saying it is a bad idea, it is a good one, just very short sited. Kind of like the gran elevator park, no maintenance, the flower seeds never came up, no trash clean up…oh ya and 1 murder. Did I fail to mention it is generally the same group again…UGH1

Posted by John C - 02/26/2013 02:04 PM

Reminds me of the Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail we have here in Sacramento. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jedediah_Smith_Memorial_Trail

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