New group working to improve Cedar Avenue

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Cedar Avenue United (CAU), a grassroots organization that started last September, wants to make Cedar Ave. safer and more liveable. The avenue, which is a county road, runs from Franklin Ave. on the north to the Crosstown freeway on the south, passing through or forming the border between 11 Minneapolis neighborhoods. It is the western border of both the Standish and Ericsson neighborhoods. Because it’s an artery from the Crosstown into the city, its traffic is very heavy. According to the City of Minneapolis 10-year traffic plan, Cedar Ave. is over capacity. The high volume of traffic makes it not only a busy street but also a noisy one.

The neighbors who formed CAU are concerned about the noise, the speed, and the fact that many drivers see it as a thoroughfare, not as part of a neighborhood. Will Peterson, the organizer of the group, says that, between 42nd St. and 46th St. (which happens to be the border of the Ericsson Neighborhood), there are smaller trees and fewer of them beside the road, making it feel wider than it is. Also, when you start up from a green light, you can see the next green light. It’s impossible to make that light—but many people try.

The members of CAU have discussed actions that would slow traffic, which would increase safety and also give drivers time to notice the several business nodes along the way. Some suggestions, such as making curb bumpouts, are long-term, but others can be done more quickly, easily, and cost-effectively. One set of ideas has to do with giving the neighborhoods more identity—with banners, boulevard gardens, benches, bike racks, etc. As member Jeri Elsner says, “Things that catch your eye slow you down.”

Another aspect of Cedar Ave. is that, south of 38th St., parking is allowed on both sides of the street, making it one driving lane wide on each side. However, there is no line to indicate the parking lane, so some drivers try to make two lanes, and people who park are not sure how much room they have. Crosswalks, only at lights, are four blocks apart, making it difficult to cross the street at some times of day, especially near neighborhood bus stops and parks or recreation areas.

CAU members, who come from each of the neighborhoods Cedar Ave. passes through, are proud that the avenue passes parks and historic places (such as the former fire station at 42nd St., which now houses HCM Architects). They want to make it easier for people to use the parks and to walk and bicycle along Cedar Ave. The group knows that Cedar Ave. is an important entrance to downtown and members are not trying to make it simply a residential street, but they believe the traffic needs to be controlled.

They plan to work with the county, the city, the neighborhoods, and Cedar Ave. businesses to produce a comprehensive plan for the avenue. They are looking for more members, especially people who have technical skills or knowledge. Anyone who is interested is welcome at the monthly meetings (Sibley Park, first Wednesday of the month, 6:30 p.m.). CAU has an informative Web site (http:// cedaravenueunited.blogspot.com) that contains the issues and ideas that members have discussed thus far.

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