New bike lanes confuse, annoy Edina drivers - My29 WFTC Minneapolis-St. Paul

New bike lanes confuse, annoy Edina drivers as city seeks to up safety

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EDINA, Minn. (KMSP) -

The city claims the new lanes will make the road safer for drivers and bikers alike, but so far, many motorists in Edina say they aren't fans of the painted paths.

City leaders say they believe the frustration will drive on down the road once everyone gets used to the new lane styles, but those who haven't seen them before are understandably confused.

Edina recently used $250,000 in federal dollars to remove the center lines and added dashed stripes on both sides of the road for bike lanes, but people don't seem to know that cars and bikes alike are supposed to drive in the space.

"Until now, Edina has been a black hole for bicyclists," said Elizabeth Fisness. "I think this is a good step. At the moment, it's a little scary to me -- buses, cars and bikes all sharing the same space."

Even for those who don't mind switching between two and four wheels, the transition has been a little bumpy.

"I know they're well-intentioned, to protect bicyclists," said Rick Hellweg, who both drives and bikes. "The way they are configured is very, very confusing.

Edina's head engineer, Wayne Houle, didn't come up with the idea, but he was in on the decision to install the lanes -- and he says they did it for a good reason.

"We didn't have enough room to put in a parking lane, a dedicated bike lane and a travel lane," he said.

So, they opted for what's known as an "advisory bike lane" instead. They can be distinguished by the dashed white line. The city has also installed a sign to clarify how the lanes should be used after a minor car accident and lots of questions.

"Keep to the right like you would on any road," Houle explained. "Stay to the right until you see a cyclist, then wait to safely pass around the cyclist."

Houle said the traffic switch should bring down speeds when a bicycle rider is on the road, which is a tough sell for some -- but he says it's been proven to work in Minneapolis, reducing crashes between cars, bikes and pedestrians. Edina officials are hoping the lanes will deliver the same result to their community once they catch on.

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