October 16, 2012 by Sarah M
By Nick Halter
Minneapolis City Council members on Thursday will consider a list of requests for the Minnesota Legislature that would change state law to make streets more bicycle friendly and to get more funding for bicycle infrastructure.
The City Council’s Committee of the Whole will consider a list of six items that could be added to the city’s lobbying wish list. The list, according to Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator Shaun Murphy, is the result of input from the city’s Public Works Department, Bicycle Advisory Committee and City Council offices.
Two of the items ask for clarity in state law in order to avoid confusion with bike lanes.
Current state law is fuzzy regarding who should yield between a bicyclist in a bike lane and a vehicle traveling the same direction that wants to turn across a bike lane, Murphy said. The Minnesota Driver’s Manual says the motorist should give way to the bicyclist.
“What the Public Works Department is proposing to the City Council is that they advocate for clarity on that statute, so that the driver’s manual then matches what the state statute says,” Murphy said.
Current state law prohibits vehicles from stopping in 14 different locations. Bike lanes are not among those 14 locations, and Downtown bicyclists often have to swerve around taxicabs and other vehicles that are loading and unloading passengers while stopped in a bike lane.
Another request would ask for the state to grant the city more flexibility in lowering the speed limit below 30 miles per hour for residential streets and for streets with bike lanes.
The list also asks for more state resources for bicycling, including “increased funding for pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure and programming including programs that seek to incentives innovation in bicycling infrastructure including appropriate flexibility on design standards.”
Another request would have the state conduct a study of the economic impact of bicycling.
The City Council will discuss the list at it’s 10 a.m. meeting in City Hall. If the Council approves the items, they will be added to the city’s legislative agenda, which is used by city lobbyists at the Capitol.