Meter hitches installed to preserve trees

Dinkytown and Marcy-Holmes received the new bike parking in late August.

A protective plastic tube covers a young tree trunk in Dinkytown on Monday. This new preventative measure urges bikers to lock up somewhere else to damaging new trees.

Alex Tuthill-Preus

A protective plastic tube covers a young tree trunk in Dinkytown on Monday. This new preventative measure urges bikers to lock up somewhere else to damaging new trees.

Sadman Rahman

Increased bike traffic and a shortage of bike parking around the University of Minnesota could be harming young trees.
 
In order to combat the damage, Minneapolis Public Works donated 20 new bike hitches — to attach to parking meters — and tree guards to Marcy-Holmes and Dinkytown late last month.
 
Prior to installing new meter hitches, riders would lock their bikes to young trees, causing them to topple, Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association communications director Chris Lautenschlager said.
 
He said while area residents from apartments like the Marshall and the Venue bring their bikes to campus, the buildings don’t provide enough bike storage.
 
“We need everybody to get involved, not just one organization,” Lautenschlager said. 
 
So far, bicyclists are using the new hitches, but because of high bike traffic in the area, more will need to be installed soon, he said.
 
“They are very widely used,” Lautenschlager said. “I’d love to get another 50.”
 
Dinkytown Business Alliance  secured a $6,000 grant last April to install more bike parking and hitches in the area, President Mike Mulrooney said. 
 
“We want to increase bicycle traffic in the area, and to do that, obviously, we need to secure spaces for people to lock up their bikes,” he said, adding that neighborhood officials are surveying local residents to find out where parking is most needed.
 
Though locking a bike to a tree is illegal, before parking was added, police would often hand out warnings instead of impounding bikes, Lautenschlager said.
 
“Before [the hitches], the bikes were parked to whatever [was] available,” he said. “We can’t blame them, and that’s why we worked very hard to bring them.” 
 
Humphrey School of Public Affairs professor Greg Lindsey said apartment buildings should provide their own bike parking and instructional pamphlets detailing how to avoid public property damage.
 
“In the absence of clear places where to park, even if they don’t want, they’ll have adverse effects,” Lindsey said.
 
He said increasing bike traffic helps bring in business around Dinkytown and Marcy-Holmes, but apartments should be doing their part to help avoid damages.
 
“Part of the rationale would be that if they don’t, it damages public property,” Lindsey said.
 
Despite parking provided by the University, alternative transportation manager Steve Sanders said property damage is common.
 
“A lot of the damage that does get done happens to the greenery around here,” he said. “People park their bikes on young trees.”