Map showing road redevelopment and sewer work

In addition to the 76th and Pleasant/Lyndale developments, the city of Richfield will be redeveloping the 76th Street street-scape, downgrading it from a four lane to a two lane road because with the completion of 77th street as the main artery 76th no long carries as much traffic and does not need to be as wide as it is. The reconstruction at this time is being prompted by having to do sewer work under most of 76th.

What’s it going to do with all that extra road? The city has come up with five comprehensive plans reducing the road and adding green space and possibly bike paths and sidewalks. However, at a meeting of the Commission on City Services which will be making a recommendation to the city council, and at public meetings about the issue, several complained about how no one uses bikes for commuting and bikes are for kids and recreation. Considering that Minneapolis is the number two biking city in the nation I would beg to differ on that issue. While what is needed in Richfield more are north-south bike routes, a east-west bike route is very welcome, Many businesses such as Best Buy, MOA, Northwest Airlines as well as hotels and retail are along 494 which runs parallel to 76th Street making the idea of a supporting commuting bike traffic a reality.

I fear that “bikes are for kids” is a prevailing view in Richfield (remember this is a city that fights building sidewalks for pedestrians). The several options that have been presented, some have commuting bike paths on the street, some have bikes relegated to extra wide sidewalks and one has street parking and no bike paths all together. Unfortunately, it appears there are no advocates for commuting bike paths in Richfield and the city is saying that it is either the Metropolitan Council or the Three Rivers Park District  advocates having the bike paths off the street and  on a combined bikepath/sidewalk which I find hard to believe. My experience with combined walkways/bikeways is that pedestrians do not make room for bikes and commuting bicyclists wind up going on the road anyways, but in this case the road will be narrowed so much it will make on road biking a danger. This a  great opportunity to create a commuting bike trail that parallels 494 along Richfield. The next meeting on November 28 at Richfield CIty Hall 6700 Portland Ave at 6pm.


Option A: the same folks that were trash talking the bike paths were most happy about this plan With limited sidewalks and bike paths but lots of parking. Given the chronic shortage of parking in Richfield I can see why they were salivating over this plan. I can never find parking by my house and often have to park blocks away from my home. Actually there might be a need to add parking by Lyndale and by the two churches but all along 76th Street is simply over kill.

Option B: Probably the best option for the creatively challenged. However it is a good solid design that has its benefits. It separates bike from sidewalks, and it adds a boulevard buffer zone separating the street from the houses. This would work as long as the city and neighbors actually grow grass and trees instead of the asphalt boulevards that are all the rage in Richfield.

Option C: I am a sucker for boulevards. Any one that has visited Highland Park and seen Ford Parkway or Highland Parkway amongst housing styles similar to Richfield will see how a boulevard in the middle can class up a neighborhood. However, it combines bike and walkways instead of putting it on the street. BTW: I tend to think it is a good idea to keep young bikers and kids with training wheels off the bike path used by adult bikers. Little biker kids will still rule on the sidewalk while the adults take to the street.

Option D: A plan I can love. Again, the city and neighbors have to get over their fetish for asphalting over boulevards though.

Option E: This on the surface it is very appealing until you realize a few things. First, bike AND sidewalk are combined and only on one side of the street. Second, in some instances that road will actually bring traffic closer to the houses. Third, again more of the parking that we can’t get enough of. Fourth, privatization of public space. Not problem for libertarians that find pubic parks appalling anyways, but I find it a bit disconcerning and frankly given that many do not maintain the side yards or boulevards along 76th street anyways what makes anyone think they will groom an extra 10 feet any better?