Bike lane proposed for Church St.

MPIRG will propose the idea to U Parking and Transportation Services next month.

A cyclist and moped ride amidst pedestrians on Church Street on Wednesday. MPIRG is attempting to designate a bike lane that would run down Church Street to avoid injuries.

Aleutian Calabay

A cyclist and moped ride amidst pedestrians on Church Street on Wednesday. MPIRG is attempting to designate a bike lane that would run down Church Street to avoid injuries.

by Luke Feuerherm

For bikers at the University of Minnesota, a trip down the stone-paved Church Street can require slowing to a walkerâÄôs pace or weaving between pedestrians. The Minnesota Public Interest Research Group plans to break up the congestion with a proposed bike lane that could be painted down the middle of the pedestrian-only section of Church Street. Tuesday night, the Minnesota Student Association passed a resolution supporting MPIRGâÄôs campaign. âÄúWe decided to target Church Street because that was one of the busiest areas, especially during class time,âÄù said Brian Elder, a sustainability taskforce co-leader at MPIRG. âÄúIt creates an unsafe environment for pedestrians and bikers.âÄù In early April, MPIRG will formally propose their plan to University Parking and Transportation Services, Elder said. If accepted, the campaign would engage in a test phase, using lines that could be removed if the lane proves unsuccessful. PTS is on board with MPIRGâÄôs plan, but the logistics still need to be worked out, said Mackenzie Turner, higher education ambassador for the Minneapolis Bike Walk Ambassador Program. âÄúWe canâÄôt just paint on those cobblestones, because it will never come off,âÄù Elder said. âÄúRight now theyâÄôre looking into some solutions.âÄù MPIRG anticipates that a bike lane would not only help bikers and pedestrians avoid collisions, but also slow bike traffic on the street, Elder said. However, he said that the large potted plants that currently mark each end of the pedestrian portion of Church Street would need to be replaced because of a likely bottleneck effect a future bike lane could cause. The campaign to line Church Street coincides with Complete Street legislation, introduced this legislative session, which would ensure every road construction project funded by the state would have to consider the need for pedestrian transportation. MPIRG felt Northrop Mall was âÄúsacredâÄù to students and decided to focus on Church Street in its attempt to make East Bank as bike-friendly as West Bank, said Adam Luesse, sustainability co-taskforce leader at MPIRG. âÄúThe West Bank has a wonderful bike infrastructure,âÄù Luesse said. âÄúBut itâÄôs completely absent on the East Bank.âÄù MPIRG is petitioning to gain support for the addition of a painted lane and currently has between 700 and 800 signatures, Elder said. âÄúI think it is totally congested and troublesome,âÄù said Andrew Sullivan, a biker and senior communication studies major. âÄúI am always dodging people.âÄù The group drew lanes on Church Street several times in chalk, once last fall and once several weeks ago in an attempt to raise awareness for their campaign and to see how well the lanes would function on the street, Luesse said. Junior English major Leslie Sedivy supports a new bike lane and said she avoids riding her bike through Church Street. âÄúAs a pedestrian, it would be really great,âÄù Sedivy said. âÄúAnd we already have so many great bike lanes here at the University.âÄù MPIRG will continue its efforts to raise awareness by chalking lanes again Thursday and hosting a bike ride down Church Street this Friday. If the group is not met with significant resistance, they hope to have a test lane painted by this summer and a permanent lane next fall. âÄúWe may see some resistance to this,âÄù Elder said. âÄúBut on the other hand, with the general movement towards alternative forms of transportation, it may be easier than we think. The only real opposition weâÄôve seen is from students during the petition drive.âÄù