Biking dangers in Dinkytown

Dinkytown needs more pedestrian lighting to ensure the safety of students.

In the Twin Cities, lack of proper lighting accounts for one- fifth of all bicycle-related accidents. The lighting in Dinkytown makes already-hazardous biking even more dangerous. Pedestrian lighting extending from Fifth Street to Como Avenue Southeast is needed.

It is difficult to gauge the severity of the situation because Minneapolis has only one crime analyst, and no data is available on the number of bicycle-related accidents. Many of the deadly close calls between cars and bicyclists in Dinkytown are likely to go unreported anyway.

Lack of statisitical data on the actual numbers of bicycle- related crimes creates an attention gap between automobile users and bicyclists. Bicyclists are an important part of Minneapolis, and issues concerning them need to be addressed more seriously.

However, hard numbers are not needed to realize that biking in Dinkytown is not for the fainthearted. Bikers are crowded onto busy streets by cars taking up bike-lane space. Meanwhile, bikers are not allowed on sidewalks, the parking lanes are full and inattentive drivers careen down streets. It is only a matter of time before a University student is severely injured or killed. At night, the situation worsens as visibility becomes an issue.

While more bike lanes in Dinkytown might be too much to ask for, lighting is a practical solution to improving the situation. There simply is not enough lighting to bike or even safely walk through Dinkytown at night. Things have gone from bad to worse because of the construction in the area. Already-scarce lighting in that area has been inactived. Students with night classes or late work shifts are left in the dark.

Lighting would also deter crimes such as vandalism and theft. A public hearing on additional lighting is being held at the end of August, and a vote will be held in the beginning of September. This is particularly a student issue because much of Dinkytown is composed of University students.

Something must be done to prevent the inevitable tragedies that will result from poor lighting. Supporting the establishment of pedestrian lighting is a positive step toward ensuring the safety of students.