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Minneapolis officials want more people riding public transportation, scooters and Nice Ride bicycles to their destinations. Getting more people walking is high on their wish list, too.

At the same time, the city wants to reduce its carbon footprint.

That’s what has led to new spots called mobility hubs where multiple modes of non-automobile transportation intersect. Each one has a bus stop, a bench and parking for Nice Ride bicycles and scooters that can be checked out by smartphone app.

The hubs opened this month at four busy north Minneapolis intersections and are designed to make it more appealing and convenient for people to leave their car at home, said Josh Johnson, the city’s advanced mobility manager.

“We want to get people out of their personal cars and onto low- or no-carbon transportation,” he said. “We are trying to get to those who have not considered using a bike, bus or scooter … to think about how you are moving around the city.”

The majority of Minneapolis residents drive to work. Just 13% of them take public transportation to their jobs, according to 2018 data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. About 7% walk to their jobs, 3% ride a bike and 2% use other means, such as scooters, the survey found.

But the first and last mile of a trip can be the biggest roadblocks to transit use. Studies show that people tend not to take transit if they have to walk a long distance to the nearest bus or rail stop, or if it is not easily accessible. The mobility hubs can help fill the gap by providing bus and train riders with a seamless way to finish their trips, Johnson said. They just need to hop on a nearby bike or a scooter.

Minneapolis received money from the American Cities Climate Challenge this year to find ways to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gases and came up with the mobility hubs as part of that.

As part of the pilot, city staff and representatives from the bike and scooter companies have been on site to show people how to access and use alternative transportation modes, and “getting people to understand what we are doing here,” Johnson said. The hubs also feature colorful signs with directions and travel time by mode to nearby destinations.

Hubs opened at Penn and Lowry avenues N., Fremont and Lowry avenues N., 26th and Lyndale avenues N., and W. Broadway and Emerson Avenue N. Four more will open in south Minneapolis in October and another four by November in northeast Minneapolis. The city plans to have as many as 35 citywide by the end of 2020, Johnson said.

ADA curbs come to Robbinsdale

Residents of Robbinsdale asked the Hennepin County Transportation Department to make it easier for pedestrians to cross Bottineau Boulevard, and last week they got their wish.

Crews started putting in new curbs with ramps to make it more convenient for those who use wheelchairs and walkers to cross at 40th and 42nd avenues N. The county also began installing signals compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) that give visual and audio cues to pedestrians. The work should be done this week.

Similar improvements, part of the county’s ADA Sidewalk Accessibility Plan, are in the works for intersections in Bloomington, Crystal, Eden Prairie, Edina, Minneapolis and St. Louis Park, said spokesman Colin Cox.

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