Potential for a Protected Bikeway on University Ave SE

University Ave Popup Bikeway
Pop-up Bikeway on University Avenue as part of
2015 Open Streets University of Minnesota.

University Avenue, one of the highest traffic roads adjacent to the University of Minnesota, is due for repaving in 2018, opening a limited time opportunity to incorporate an upgrade to the current one-way bike lane. The Minneapolis Protected Bikeway Master Plan identifies the section between 1st  Avenue NE to Oak Avenue as the potential location for a new one-way or two-way protected bike lane to serve these communities.

University Avenue serves all main entrances to the University of Minnesota East campus for commuters from Marcy-Holmes, Dinkytown and Como neighborhoods; a generous proportion of campus and neighborhood commuters. UMN advocates and partners have identified a need for the two-lane strategy rather than a single lane due to the high frequency of wrong way bikers on the one-way flow of University Ave. A wrong-way rider count will be completed early this spring.

Increased safety for riders could also get more people out onto their bikes. Many University students hesitate to use biking as their go-to transit strategy because they simply feel they aren’t savvy or brave enough to go up against such a high volume of vehicles. This mindset, that urban cycling is only for the hip or gritty few, keeps people who could benefit from the cost savings and health benefits of biking from making the switch.


Could University Ave look like this some day?

Photo credit Adam Coppola Photography.

The City Public Works Feasibility report for the section closest to the University and Dinkytown introduces two possible lane alterations, both suggesting to take away some on-street parking and additionally either eliminating a travel lane or narrowing the lanes to accommodate. The report concluded that the two-way protected bike lane would be feasible in this location with all traffic considerations in account. Though that potential loss of parking will undoubtedly be undesirable to some Dinkytown businesses who depend on parking availability, this is no new protest. Campus advocates are working with neighborhood community leaders within adjacent neighborhoods to the proposed protected bike lane, hoping to engage in thoughtful dialogue around the project’s services.

The new protected bike lane has been picking up attention both as a 2016 priority of the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition and potentially with the city because of its alignment with a MnDOT street resurfacing project on the books for 2018-2019, meaning this is the time to get bicycle infrastructure secured in the plan. This is the crucial point in the planning process where city and county government leaders need to hear from the people affected by the project to keep the project a priority.

Next month the campus advocacy group will be launching a photo campaign alongside 30 Days of Biking aimed at encouraging neighborhood stakeholders, bikers, and potential bikers to join the discussion. Every Friday in April from 12-2pm volunteers will be stationed at a new location where passers-by can take a picture with a statement of support for the University Avenue Protected Bike Lane. Find them on April 1st on the Northrup Mall Bike Path between Ford Hall and Kolthoff Hall. To keep up with developments with the Photo Campaign and future advocacy for University Ave, follow the project on Twitter at @ImforUniAve and look out for an opportunity to "like" a Facebook page in the near future. 

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