Marcy bike lane stirs controversy between bikers and commuters

Competition for parking spots has some questioning the necessity of adding a bike lane along 8th Street Southeast in Marcy Holmes.

<p>Bikers ride beside crowded parking on both sides of SE 8th Street in Minneapolis.</p>

Easton Green

Bikers ride beside crowded parking on both sides of SE 8th Street in Minneapolis.

Maraya King

More than six years since its original proposal, a new bike lane in Marcy-Holmes will finally be realized — but not without some community opposition.

While many students and renters in the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood welcomed the construction of a bike lane on Eighth Street Southeast, some long-term area residents raised parking and convenience concerns to argue against it.

The Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association board passed the proposal unanimously earlier this year, but residents at a recent Transportation Committee meeting once again brought up issues with the project.

The bike lane is an attempt to ensure the street is safe for both bikers and drivers, said MHNA Executive Director Chris Lautenschlager.

Residents at the meeting said years of construction have taken enough parking space from the community, and the project should stop before more space gets lost.

But Lautenschlager said transportation changes serve to improve the conditions for all.

“Eighth Street is absolutely treacherous for drivers,” said Dawson Kimyon, a University senior and Marcy-Holmes resident.

Eighth Street Southeast is currently split into two 20-foot-wide lanes for bikers, drivers and parking.

The new project will decrease the driving lanes to 10 feet each, allowing for a 6-foot bike lane on each side with one 8-foot-wide margin for parking.

Some residents said the bike lane will decrease the already limited parking availability for people with vehicles, noting how the street is saturated with resident and non-residents using the space.

According to city ordinances, housing complexes must provide half a parking stall per bedroom in the University area. This creates strain for units whose residents have multiple cars, Lautenschlager said.

Some apartment buildings offer underground parking, but often it is expensive and limited, causing many residents to resort to street parking, which in turn takes space from bikers, Lautenschlager said.

“Most students and even long-term residents choose to park on the street to avoid paying fees,” he said. “Visibility has been hampered by the increase in parked cars along Eighth Street.”

Even though it would reduce available parking, Kimyon said he prefers a safer street for all commuters.

George Abdallah, CLA student senator for the Minnesota Student Association, organized students to voice their approval for the bike lane. Abdallah said it’s no surprise the opposition is rallying now when most students are out for the summer and campus is not active.

“We need to rally now and we need to complain now,” he said, adding the bike lane is imperative for the neighborhood and for bikers’ safety.

Construction on the bike lane is expected to start at the end of August.