MSA hopes to improve campus bike lanes

Concerned with cyclist traffic on campus, the group is developing a proposed bike-lane map.

by Amber Kispert

For cyclists weaving in and out of pedestrians and dodging traffic, biking through campus can be quite the adventure.

During a time when biking on campus is commonplace, the Minnesota Student Association is developing a proposed bike-lane map. The map aims to make biking around campus easier and less dangerous.

Steven Sanders, campus bicycle coordinator for University Parking and Transportation Services, said on average, there are between 5,000 and 6,000 cyclists on campus per day, weather permitting.

MSA At-Large Representative Andrew Harvey is the principal architect of the map and is a frequent cyclist.

“Bikers are going to bike whether there’s bike lanes or not,” he said. “We just want someplace for them to be.”

MSA Academics and Services Committee Chairwoman Stephanie Payne said MSA recognizes it’s increasingly difficult for bikers to get around campus.

“The ‘U’ likes to promote that it is a bicycle-friendly campus, but there are areas where bikes can’t ride very easily, such as high-pedestrian areas,” Payne said. “It’s really not a good place for cyclists.”

Sanders said PTS welcomes MSA’s involvement and is hopeful that improvements will be implemented.

“Good things can come from harnessing the energy and interest of an organized group,” he said, “especially when that group represents the reason we’re all here – the students.”

MSA members identified 10 problem areas on campus for bikers, six of which are around Coffman Union and the Northrop Mall area.

“Those are the areas where there aren’t a lot of bike lanes,” Payne said.

Two feasible areas to add additional bike lanes are on Church and Pleasant streets, through the Mall area.

Improving the bike lanes is not an easy task, Sanders said, as there are many factors to consider when looking at improving bike lanes.

“It’s a difficult thing to do – difficult in the sense that most campus space is already claimed,” Sanders said. “Adding space for additional facilities requires taking space from some other use. It requires more than a simple paint stripe.”

Payne said collisions between cyclists and pedestrians are an all too common occurrence.

“It happens a lot, you see people almost getting hit,” she said.

After Tuesday’s meeting of its Academics and Services Committee, MSA plans to meet with PTS about implementing these improvements.

“If we continue to put more bikes on places with more and more pedestrians, it’s just going to get more and more dangerous,” Harvey said.

Payne agreed the issue is significant.

“It’s really an important issue for everyone, not just the people on the bikes,” Payne said.