Report: Cycling Accidents Down Along Minneapolis Bike Lane - So are Cyclists

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Photo: MPR

Photo: MPR

(Minneapolis -- Madeleine Baran, Minnesota Public Radio)   Minneapolis city officials say bike lanes have made biking safer -- but cyclists say new routes are confusing, and the number of cyclists along those routes is actually down.

Minneapolis is known as one of the more bike-friendly cities in the U.S. and has the largest-scale bike-share program in the U.S.

The city's report examined data from the first six months following the changes. The report found that the number of bicycle crashes on the downtown stretch of Hennepin and First Avenues dropped from a yearly average of about 12 to zero in the past six months.

"Although a longer study is needed, the data so far shows greatly improved bicycle safety in the corridor," city officials said in a statement accompanying Tuesday's report.

Despite the improved safety record, the report found that six months after the changes, bicycle ridership on the downtown blocks of Hennepin Avenue had dropped by more than 50 percent.

Bicycling advocates say that many cyclists don't feel safe riding in a shared lane, regardless of the statistics.

"It's a perception thing," said Nick Mason, program manager for the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota. "And the perception is that these lanes are very dangerous, even though they're pretty safe."

Many bicyclists say they're concerned that motorists don't understand that they are supposed to share the lane with bicyclists. They point out that many of the painted bicycle markers along Hennepin Avenue are worn down and barely visible.  The full story here.