The Coming Year in Biking at the University of Minnesota

A working group of the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition called “Neighborhood Action Teams” is looking at bike projects in various areas in the city. I checked into what’s happening at the University of Minnesota and here’s what I found.

The big news is that the U is developing a Bicycle Master Plan. This plan will set policy as well as outline corridors for improvement. I hope to have a draft copy for review in a few weeks. Expectations are for the plan to be published this summer.

The other big news is that Washington Avenue will be closed at the end of the semester (mid May). Half of the upper deck will be closed at a time while construction is underway but each side has (or will have for the duration) bike lanes. I’m not clear how long the closure will last, but guess over a year.

The University of Minnesota Trail (from Bridge 9 to the U Transitway) may actually happen this year. negotiation with the railroad are ongoing but said to be going well. Once done there will be some utility work done in the corridor, then construction on the trail can start, perhaps midsummer.

Bike Center — construction bids are due in two weeks; construction should start early March and will probably be done late May. Here’s a link with a bit of info about the new center.

An RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) system, which has been in test mode with a single unit for the past year, will be rolled out campus-wide starting in March. The thought is to provide benefits/incentivesfor bike commuting but what those might be is not yet clear. For this project bikers would attach a tag to their bikes and this tag would be recognized when the bike passed by one of the RFID units. The main purpose would be for bikers to qualify for some unstated future benefit. Two examples;

  • There is a 20/month federal benefit for folks who commute to work, if the employer feels like funding it. The U as not yet decided to fund it.

  • Health insurers at the U provide a $20/month benefit for employees who use a health club. Perhaps they will pay that to people who use “active transportation” to commute to work.

Another potential benefit would be for transportation researchers to study commuting behavior.

Bike lanes on the 10th Ave S.E. / 19th Ave S. corridor from Como to Cedar should be in place this summer.

Church Street is being considered for bike lanes but there are legal concerns because the Regents designated Church as a pedestrian mall and PTS (Parking and Transportation Services) are unsure if they are allowed to put lanes there.

Part of Pleasant will be made one-way to motor traffic with a contraflow bike lane. Pleasant is a relatively sleepy road now, but when Washington closes traffic will increase several times. There will be over 100 buses per hour at certain hours. There will be added a bike box on Pleasant northbound at University to help biker get across University Ave ahead of motor traffic, and potentially one southbound at Pillsbury.

We’ve found that MPIRG – the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group – has been working to improve cycling on campus. They are working with the Minnesota Student Association and the UMN Bicycle Coordinator. We will be talking with them to see about working together on campus. 

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