Downtown Minneapolis has its first 'woonerf,' a road cars and pedestrians share

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Pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers will have to learn to share.

There's a road in downtown Minneapolis that's meant for everybody to use. It's called a "woonerf," which is a Dutch concept the New York Times says means something like "living streets."

It opened Thursday afternoon at Mill City Quarter apartments.

Downtown Minneapolis' first woonerf is more of a short corridor than a street, though. Fox 9 says it's not even 500 feet long.

The Star Tribune says it doesn't have some of the features European woonerfs have, like a textured surface or obstacles to slow down drivers.

Still, people who drive on the road are expected to stay under 10 mph.

City plans say the idea is for "the pedestrian to become the focus of the space and the vehicle is seen as the 'visitor.'"

According to Mill City Quarter, it's also supposed to better connect people in the area to the nearby Mississippi River.

Eventually, the woonerf will be connected to off-road walking and biking trails that are still being constructed.

The woonerf area will have about 80 parking stalls and "landscaped open spaces to foster gathering of people," city plans say.

More woonerfs to come

There are plans for more Twin Cities woonerfs.

Minneapolis is reconstructing part of 29th Street, turning some areas into shared streets.

That project runs from Dupont Avenue South to Lyndale Avenue South, and from Emerson Avenue South to Fremont Avenue South.

Part of that project – Bryant Avenue South to Lyndale Avenue South – is being worked on this year. Construction for that segment is set to finish in November.

The rest will be worked on in 2020, according to documents.

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