Good News from Woodley Process

RoadwayWithBikeLane.jpgWhat is shown in this photograph? It is a roadway in our community with a bicycle lane.

Why is this of interest? Due to MN Statute 160.263

How does this relate to the Woodley Process? Bruce Anderson cited this statute during Monday night’s Council discussion on that topic.

Why is is good news? According to MN Stat. 160.263, Subd. 5, “the governing body of any political subdivision, by resolution or ordinance and without an engineering or traffic investigation, may designate a safe speed for any street or highway under its authority upon which it has established a bicycle lane; provided that such safe speed shall not be lower than 25 miles per hour”.

What should we do next? Work to get the speed on the downtown section of Highway 3, between St. Olaf Avenue and 5th Street, reduced from 30 miles per hour to 25 miles per hour.

Why would we want to reduce the speed? According to a study cited by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “5 percent of pedestrians struck at 20 mph will die, compared with 45 percent at 30 mph, and 85 percent at 40 mph”.

What is the likelihood that our City Council will take action on this matter? Wow, your guess is as good as mine.


  1. Bill Ostrem said:

    Ross, Steve Clark was the one who informed me of this law. When we presented this to the county and city regarding Woodley St./CSAH 28, they said that the county has “authority” over Woodley and decides whether or not to lower the speed limit. So presumably the state has authority on Hwy 3?

    Or could the authority be construed as being a joint authority? Who gets to say? It would be good to get clarification on this from the state and/or a lawyer.

    Thanks for the info on speed of motor vehicles and injury to pedestrians. That is important to consider.

    Also important: the amount of time one has to cross the street or highway. It is not enough on Highway 3! I haven’t timed it but I’ve walked it numerous times and felt that a slower person – consider an elderly person – would not want to risk it. It would also be better to have those pedestrian signals that tell you how many seconds you have to cross.

    As a long-term goal, we might also consider what Steve Clark said of Hwy 3: look into a 4-to-3-lane conversion to make this highway less of an obstacle in our community. Apparently this can still accommodate a large amount of traffic if done right.

    September 14, 2007
  2. Ross, the statute in question authorizes speed limit reductions for any “street or highway under its authority.” I have a feeling that MnDOT and the state of Minnesota would trump the City of Northfield on Highway 3,when it comes to the issue of “authority,” although I’m not sure.

    In the case of Woodley Street, it seems clear that Rice County would have the authority to lower the speed limit (Woodley is County State Aid Highway 28). I spoke at length with Steve Clark, Walking and Bicycling Program Manager at Transit for Livable Communities ( yesterday, and he reported unequivocally that counties in the Metro area have taken this action on similar county highways. Clark administers the federally funded $21.5 million Non-Motorized Transportation Pilot Project in the Metro area, and knows whereof he speaks…

    September 14, 2007
  3. Ross Currier said:


    Sometimes my optimism shocks me. I’m thinking that perhaps the City of Northfield and MNDoT might find a compromise.

    When we, the NDDC, Dixon Bond, Jim Pokorney, Lee Lansing, and Ray Cox, met with several representatives of MNDoT many moons ago, they made it very clear that unless two or three people were killed crossing Highway 3 (and none of us wish for that occurrence), they would not install a traffic light at 3rd Street and Highway 3. (They did indicate that if the City of Northfield was willing to pay for a traffic signal, they’d probably allow it.)

    Therefore, since two different Mayor’s Task Forces ten years apart (one chaired by the late, great Jeff Amerman and one chaired by myself) have called for a traffic light at that intersection, I’m thinking that because a five mile per hour reduction in the speed would apparently reduce the fatality percentage from 45 to something like 25, that such a speed reduction would be a significant step that the two government entities could achieve through a collaborative effort.

    Yes, the weekend approaches, and I’m probably way too optimistic.


    September 14, 2007
  4. Optimism is a good thing, Ross! I’ll go with it as the weekend approaches.

    September 14, 2007
  5. Peter Waskiw said:

    Ross, I’ll take your optimism any day over a curse. Perhaps even sound reasoning might work. Although sometimes that to can be in short supply.

    September 14, 2007
  6. Ross,
    As much as a reduced speed limit would be great for cyclists and pedestrians anywhere, does anyone actually use that bicycle lane?

    If I’m thinking about it properly, the lane kind of weaves in and out of existence and involves cars and semis crossing it whenever they need to get into a turn lane. And there’s no reason you’d want to ride on it: the lane doesn’t run far enough north or south to get you near any businesses that are on Hwy 3 nor is it a good option for getting around town, since you could simply go west to Linden Street or east to Division for a much more pleasant ride.

    September 16, 2007
  7. Bill Ostrem said:

    I’ve become more of a fan of the Hwy 3 bike lanes than I used to be. They DO get used, and I use them myself occasionally. I haven’t read up on bike lane design very much yet, but the design of these lanes seems better than those on Jefferson Parkway and elsewhere in town: i.e, they are a consistent, standard width and they are integrated better with motor vehicle right turn lanes. I think they’re supposed to disappear when crossing turn lanes, though perhaps they should be dotted lines where motor vehicles are supposed to cross them to turn right.

    September 17, 2007

Leave a Reply