Should a bike and pedestrian greenway pass through North Minneapolis?
Most definitely yes or certainly not, depending on whom you ask.
One portion of a proposed greenway route, extending for five blocks from Jordan to Folwell Parks on Irving Avenue North, is getting a test run as the city weighs whether to make it a permanent fixture on the Northside.
Pedestrian and bicycling advocates say that the walking paths, bikeways, benches, and flower planters add to the sustainability and livability of the area. Opponents cite increased crime and other safety issues that hurt the neighborhood.
The City of Minneapolis has been weighing the addition of a North Minneapolis greenway since 2011 with an eye on increasing residents’ physical activity and adding alternative commuting options. In the intervening years, numerous planning initiatives and feedback sessions have helped to nail down greenway location and amenities.
Thus far, that planning and execution has not produced widespread community consensus. Instead, residents have continued to dispute where a greenway should run and what it should feature. Others have suggested there should be no greenway at all with divisions often falling along which block a person lives on.
Irving Avenue is the current ground zero of discussion, where residents on the five-block test area report problems since a greenway was set up in late July. Stop the Greenway is a public coalition of neighbors and organizations opposed to the project. They cite many issues with the construction and planning leading up to it:
—A public Greenway Council is made up of individuals who do not actually live on the proposed route or, in many cases, even in the neighborhood.
—A decrease in street parking has forced residents along the route to park in back alleys, where vehicles have sustained greater levels of damage from passing traffic.
—Diminished accessibility has made it more difficult for fire trucks and other public safety vehicles to respond to emergency calls.
—Fears of increased loitering and crime have not been allayed as additional policing has yet to be pledged to the project.
—The greenway constructed is not ADA-compliant and has inconvenienced disabled and elderly residents.
Stop the Greenway has created a petition for those who oppose the project, more about which can be found at the organization’s website (stopthegreenway.com).
Others have applauded the execution of the greenway, noting that it’s beautified the area and enriched the experience of walking/bicycling the neighborhood. They would like to see the greenway become a permanent addition to the Northside with an extended route. One route proposed during the planning phase would span Irving Avenue from Shingle Creek Trail in the north to Plymouth Avenue in the south.
Whether and when any full-scale greenway is created in North Minneapolis are issues far from being decided. The temporary greenway is planned to be constructed for up to one year. Residents with comments or concerns about the greenway can call 311 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. More information can also be found at minneapolismn.gov/health/living/northminneapolisgreenway.