UMN announces pilot safety program in Dinky

The pilot program will convert certain streets into pedestrian zones for a limited amount of time in an effort to make Dinkytown streets safer.

The Marshall apartments, located on the corner of 14th Avenue SE and 5th Street SE, as seen on Monday, Nov. 19. The Marshall, built in 2013, is in the same spot as Marshall High School, which opened in 1924.

Jack Rodgers

The Marshall apartments, located on the corner of 14th Avenue SE and 5th Street SE, as seen on Monday, Nov. 19. The Marshall, built in 2013, is in the same spot as Marshall High School, which opened in 1924.

by Minnesota Daily News Staff

The University of Minnesota announced on Tuesday via a systemwide email a new public safety pilot program to improve public safety on and around campus, specifically in Dinkytown.

The Dinkytown Safety and Pedestrian Access Pilot program is one of the 26 action items on the University’s Strategic Safety Advisory Committee’s agenda to address public safety concerns. President Joan Gabel announced the committee on July 12 amid public safety concerns among community members. The committee’s membership consists of University students, staff and faculty as well as City of Minneapolis staff.

The pedestrian pilot program will convert certain streets into pedestrian zones starting at 4 p.m. on Thursdays through 10 a.m. on Sundays. Thursday will be the first day, and the pilot will run for three consecutive weekends.

One pedestrian zone will be on 5th Street SE between 13th and 14th avenues. This is the street between Target and the Venue at Dinkytown apartments.

The second zone will be on 14th Avenue SE between 4th and 5th streets. This is the street between Blarney and Starbucks.

Concrete pylons will be placed on the two streets and their corresponding sidewalks with barricades between the pylons for emergency vehicle access. The University of Minnesota Police Department (UMPD) is paying for the barricades and will contract with Warning Lites, a company that specializes in roadway and event safety.

“The goal is to provide safer streets that are welcoming to pedestrians and customer vehicle traffic, while keeping away people who intend to do harm to the area,” Matt Kramer, vice president of University Relations and chair of the Strategic Safety Advisory Committee, said in the Tuesday email.

All of the partners involved in the program will create next steps after analyzing 911 call logs and the frequency of SAFE-U notifications.

The program is one of the first action items the committee is implementing and is a collaboration between the University, University and Minneapolis police, Ward 3 Council Member Michael Rainville and the city.

Additional action items for the committee to address in the future include possibly expanding the SAFE-U notification area to include more of Dinkytown and Marcy-Holmes, renewing Dinkytown safety guides’ contracts, increasing UMPD staffing and hiring an additional community service officer.

University Relations also plans to create a public safety dashboard, which would share progress on safety goals as well as safety statistics. There is no release date for the dashboard yet, but Kramer said in the email he “anticipate[s] that work to move quickly.”