Students need bike ramp by law school

Student leaders say the ramp would aid bikers and people with disabilities.

Haley Hansen

When third-year law student Ann Motl visits friends on the University of Minnesota’s East Bank, she has to take a 10- to 15-minute detour to get back to her classes on the West Bank.

 Motl, who uses a wheelchair, said she has to travel out of her way to get to the Washington Avenue Bridge from the University’s Law School because there isn’t a ramp on the north side of the West Bank’s Willey Hall.

With a wheelchair, Motl said the route takes her around the Law School and in between the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and the Carlson School of Management.

“It’s pretty far out of the way,” she said.

Motl’s issue is what some student leaders want to address.

The Student Senate passed a resolution Thursday asking the University to add a dual wheelchair and bike ramp behind Willey and Mondale halls, an addition students say will make trips easier and safer for commuters.

The Law School’s Student Senate representative, Kyle Kroll, who authored the resolution, said while there is another way for disabled students to get around the building, it’s a hassle and is unfair to those commuters.

Motl said it takes her three different elevator trips to take the alternative path to Willey Hall, and that route isn’t always reliable.

Every now and again, Motl said, an elevator will be broken. And since the buildings’ doors lock in the evening, she said she avoids using the route altogether at night.

Along with inconveniencing some disabled students, Kroll said the stairs force bike riders to dismount and walk up the stairs, which he said is both a hassle and a safety concern when biking at night.

Mark Schneider, an associate director at International Student and Scholar Services, was rollerblading at the site Monday night. He approached the stairs and slowly maneuvered himself down, step-by-step.

“It’s one of the few places on campus that people have to stop and carry [their bikes] down,” Schneider said.

Jared Carpenter, who works at the University’s Genomics Center, was biking in the area on Monday. He said he carries his bike up the steps outside Willey Hall on his way to work.

“It’s not a huge hassle, but it would be nice to have a ramp here,” Carpenter said.

University Parking and Transportation Services director Ross Allanson said the stairs used to have a bike rail that allowed
commuters to walk their bikes, but it was removed because of safety concerns.

PTS is currently looking into implementing a ramp that will accommodate both bikers and disabled students, Allanson said.

“This project is definitely toward the top of our list,” he said.

PTS focuses many of its efforts on making clearer and easier biking paths, Allanson said, especially considering the spike in the number of student bikers on campus in recent years.

“In general, biking infrastructure has been an increasing priority,” he said.