The Midtown Greenway of Minneapolis, Minnesota is a nearly six-mile bike path that runs east to west through the neighborhoods just south of downtown Minneapolis. It provides pedestrians and cyclists respite from traffic … but it is about to get a new occupier.

During Earth Day weekend, April 20-22, Hennepin County will test the driverless electric-powered shuttle, the EasyMile, on a two-to-three-block stretch of the Greenway.

“They’ll take place along a two-to-three-block stretch, and share a one-directional bike lane with cycle and pedestrian traffic,” City Pages notes of the plan. “The shuttle, which would only move as fast as 12 miles per hour max, would also have a human operator just in case.”

A stretch of the Midtown Greenway. Photo: Michael Hicks/Flickr

The Minnesota Department of Transportation has been testing the EasyMile EZ10 driverless shuttle all winter long on closed roads in Albertville. The Department is going to let the model be used for this Earth Day weekend test.

As City Pages states, “The EasyMile has already transported more than 230,000 people in 20 countries, logging more than 75,000 miles with a perfect safety record.”

The EZ10 fits 12 passengers and could be an answer to the city’s search for connecting their current railways in an expanding city. The DOT even tested out the EZ10 leading up to Super Bowl 52, which Minneapolis hosted, by offering short, free rides to Nicollet Mall from Third Street to Fourth Street.

The EZ10. Photo: Courtesy of EasyMile

The City is exploring a street car system that could help connect an underutilized, fenced-off portion of the Greenway. The shuttle could potentially offer a less intrusive alternative.

It remains to be seen how cyclists, pedestrians and the shuttle will co-exist on the Greenway, but if successful, it could help a city figure out a growing problem of expanding outer limits and how to continue to serve public transportation to those areas.

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