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Categorized | NEWS

On-street parking? Nope, wider bike lanes with buffer zones.

Posted on 08 October 2018 by Calvin

Right now, Prior Ave. between University and Minnehaha avenues has 2 traffic lanes, 2 5-ft bike lanes and one parking lane. A Council-passed proposal would widen the bike lanes and remove the on-street parking. (Photo courtesy of Google Maps)

By JANE MCCLURE
Wider, buffered bike lanes will be installed on Prior Ave. between University and Minnehaha avenues. The St. Paul City Council approved the project Sept. 5. The lanes are intended to provide a safer and more comfortable cycling experience on a north-south bike route. Work will be done as part of a street mill and overlay project this fall.

City Council members said they’ve heard strong support for bike lane improvements and unanimously approved the project. While the project has its supporters, including Hamline Midway Coalition and area cyclists and members of the city’s cycling groups, it has drawn objections from a landscaping business that uses Prior for parking.

Prior has had bike lanes for several years but they are about five feet wide in the area north of University. It’s not a width city officials and cyclists consider adequate today.

“It does meet our standards for bike lanes, but it is the absolute minimum,” said Reuben Collins of St. Paul Public Works.

Prior is a collector street and Municipal-State Aid route. It carries more than 4,800 vehicles per day. The posted speed is 30 miles per hour. It’s not a transit route but connects to several bus routes and Green Line light rail at University.

The street is about 40’ wide between Charles and Minnehaha avenues, with two 11’ travel lanes, two 5’ bike lanes, and an 8’ parking lane. It has parking on the east side.

The changes after the mill and overlay allow for 11’ travel lanes, 2’ buffer lanes, 7’ bike lanes, and no on-street parking. Public Works will also reconfigure the area near University on the north side of Prior, to add turning space and improve safety.

Because the project is in a commercial-industrial area with no residential uses, Public Works didn’t hold an open house but instead reached out to property owners. One property owner objected to the project, citing the loss of on-street parking.

Josh Arvold and his brother own Arvold Landscaping at 622 Prior. They bought their property in February and use their lot area to store landscaping materials and supplies. Arvold said employees and customers park on Prior and will have to walk a block when the parking is removed.

While supporting the street and bike improvements, Arvold said the change would create a hardship for the family business.

Collins said city officials heard from a second business owner who wants changes made on Prior south of University. But those won’t happen until the street is reconstructed in 2022.

Another person who’d like to see improvements extended north is Rob Clapp, one of the owners of the Can Can Wonderland entertainment complex just north of Minnehaha. He asked if the mill and overlay could be extended one block, as that stretch of street is in poor condition, and also asked city officials to consider making the street more walkable.

Clapp and other proponents spoke for the project’s safety aspects for bicyclists. Hamline Midway Coalition member Erin Parrish was among those who frequently bike along Prior, and don’t feel safe with the current narrow lane configuration. Neighborhood resident Jake Ruter cited the importance of Prior as a bike corridor.

Improvements to Prior are consistent with the bicycle plan the City Council adopted in 2015. Long-term, a goal is to have the lanes be a connection to a future bike route along Pierce Butler Rte.

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