Council members voted to remove the advisory bike lanes on Wooddale—which run from 50th Street to Valley View Road—and repaint the roadway's centerline. A dedicated bike lane would then be placed alongside southbound traffic between 50th and 56th streets, with sharrows—markings of a bike with two chevrons above it—painted on the remaining portions of Wooddale to remind drivers the avenue is shared with bicyclists.
The dedicated parking lane will be retained on the east side of Wooddale, under the approved plan.
Council Member Josh Sprague was the first to voice support of the option, but also noted he "did not begrudge" the council for trying advisory bike lanes in the first place.
"We've gotten some data out of it, there are applications where it works," Sprague said. "All I'm saying is we've gained what we can out of it. It's time to close the door on this treatment, go back to another option that was part of the original plan and move forward."
Council Member Joni Bennett agreed with Sprague's proposed solution, but attempted to clarify some existing "misunderstanding" in the community as to why the Council initially opted for the advisory bike lanes.
"We weren't plunging into the abyss trying to be the first users of advisory bike lanes," Bennett said. "We chose them as the best option available to us at the time."
The changes are estimated to cost $29,600 if the City of Edina opts to fund them on its own, though a variance would be required to get the changes funded by Metro State Aid.
Discussion Tuesday seemed to indicate some members of the Council would prefer to simply pay for the repainting out of pocket to both ensure it is completed as soon as possible and avoid having to seek a variance. City Engineer Wayne Houle estimated the process could be sped up by two months if the city opted to pay for it themselves.
"It depends on when the snow disappears and the streets warm up," Houle noted.
The Council has yet to make a decision about how to proceed with the plan, as they wanted to clear it with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) before taking any action. Wooddale's current orientation was part of a request for permission to experiment from the FHWA, with the understanding that the advisory bike lanes would stay in place for two years to determine the effectiveness of the striping.
It's not yet clear if the FHWA would want the City of Edina to repay funding for the project if it's abandoned. The City initially received $250,000 for its bike boulevard projects through the Transit for Livable Communities (TLC) grant program.
Ted Schoenecker, a Metro State Aid engineer with MnDOT, said he had talked with the FHWA about the funding used on the project, with the general consensus being they didn't see any major obstacles to making revisions to Wooddale.
"However, they weren't ready to say they would or wouldn't ask for a payback, because there's really not a plan in front of them," Schoenecker said.
The initial agreement between the FHWA and City of Edina indicated the study could be terminated at any time "if there is significant safety concerns that are directly or indirectly attributable to the experimentation."
While citizens have been quite outspoken regarding the bike lanes, initial data from city staff seems to indicate they weren't the complete failure many suspect.
Data from 2009 shows traffic driving on the north half of Wooddale—between 50th and 56th streets—averaging 30.4 mph, which was actually less than the 33.4 mph average observed in 2012. On the flip side, the southern half of Wooddale saw average speeds decrease from 34.2 mph in 2009 to 33.7 mph in 2012.
Perhaps most interesting, the number of crashes on Wooddale did not appear to have spike after the advisory bike lanes were installed. The first part of 2012—the lanes were added in the fall—saw 11 total crashes on Wooddale, while only five were reported after the bike lanes were painted. Thus far, 2013 has not seen a single crash on Wooddale, according to data provided by city staff.