Advocates for the proposed North Minneapolis Greenway say that the report released by the City of Minneapolis in July shows that the project should go forward to the benefit of those living in and around the proposed route.
The report, which the City released on July 19, detailed public responses and attitudes related to last year’s pilot project on Irving Avenue that considered three forms of greenways: a full greenway, a half and half greenway where the roadway included a bike trail and the other half is used for traffic and parking, and a bike boulevard. The report showed that of the three design concepts, those residents living on a full greenway were the most satisfied.
“We are not surprised by the report’s findings. It confirms what we and others have long believed – a full greenway will bring the greatest benefits to the neighborhood and area residents,” says Lindsay and Stephen Lewis, residents living on the route.
A full 61 percent of survey respondents living on the full test Greenway stated that disruptive noise got better, 57 percent reported that neighborhood social interactions improved, 61 percent reported that the neighborhood became safer during the day, and 87 percent reported that the safety of kids improved.
The Lewis’ said that support for the proposed Greenway reaches far beyond those living on and adjacent to the route who were the individuals who were surveyed by the city. “One of the key things to understand about these findings is that, while they are very positive, they only included the opinions of homeowners and renters living on the pilot greenways and on adjacent blocks,” says Lindsay Lewis. “There is broad support for a full greenway throughout North Minneapolis among bicyclists and pedestrians who would use a greenway for commuting and recreation.”
In addition to its use for commuting, recreation and for improving the quality of life in a neighborhood, the physical activity opportunities a greenway provides has a direct and positive impact on the health and well-being of those who use it.
Jordan Area Community Council Board Chair, and resident living on Irving, Audua Pugh says that with the demonstration of broad support for a full greenway, the City of Minneapolis must now move forward with implementing the project, while continuing to take into account concerns that local residents may have.
Pugh suggests that the City of Minneapolis needs to move forward with installing a greenway in North Minneapolis, and because greenways often result in higher property values, more access to transportation alternatives and exercise opportunities; intentional steps need to be taken such as community benefit agreements, hiring goals, equitable economic development, and affordable housing policies to ensure that gentrification of the neighborhood does not occur.
“The true test of this entire process will be whether or not the City of Minneapolis will move forward with the construction of the Northside Greenway, or if once again the Northside will be overlooked while important infrastructure projects are built elsewhere in the city,” says Pugh.