Snowpiles on Division St. downtown: a clue about bike lanes?

Snowpiles on Division Cars and trucks were moving along Division St. just fine in downtown Northfield yesterday, despite the mounds of snow on each side of the street narrowing it considerably.

Snowpiles on DivisionIt makes me wonder if something could be done with bike lanes, especially on the diagonal parking side.


  1. John S. Thomas said:


    Although I like the thought of bike lanes on division, I think that bike lanes on Second, Washington, Water, and Fourth would work better (through Bridge Square and SSQ Park.)

    If you put bike parking in SSQ park, folks would only need one block of walking to any business.

    There is also much more room and a great through street on Washington.

    Division is still too congested for comfort, even with parallel parking for a bike path. Plus, when you add your bumpouts for outdoor dining… 😎

    February 28, 2009
  2. John S. Thomas said:

    I forgot to add that I think you would have much more difficulty getting buy in for bike paths on division, as changing Diagonal parking to parallel parking will take away spaces. There is already not enough parking downtown, and the snow only magnified the issue. (We tried to go downtown to shop three times yesterday, but left because there was no place to park.)

    I would love to see bikes downtown, and more places to park them, but we are completely content to ride to Washington or down fifth, then walk our bikes downtown.

    There is NO way you will see our family riding down Division street. A path might work for experienced riders, but not for families.

    February 28, 2009
  3. Well, Griff, no need to wonder — just look at the bike lanes (or sidewalks, for that matter) on Hwy 3. The ones near the edge of the road — anywhere where there’s no right-turn lane — have been covered in sludge almost all winter.

    February 28, 2009
  4. Tracy Davis said:

    Bike lanes in front of diagonal parking adjacent to sidewalks have been done in many other places and seem to work well. I’m not sure it’s the best option for Northfield, but it should be considered.

    February 28, 2009
  5. Jerry Bilek said:

    John, your logic seems good to me. Washington is a good street to ride on. I drop down on 5th and I’m at work. Division is risky, I ride it, but doubt I would want my daughter to ride it. guess I’d have to see it first.

    I think Jefferson rd could use a lane too. it’s wide enough, low volume road that leads to commercial district. Jefferson pkwy should be fixed. the lane runs from the east end of the road to within one block of Division???? where do yo go on a bike, off road? west of division, nothing??? we’re talking about paint on a street.

    February 28, 2009
  6. Bill Ostrem said:

    I would tend to agree with John and Jerry that we first focus on Washington and Water Streets for bike facilities. The Parks and Trails plan creates a rectangular bike lane system of sorts around downtown: a southbound bike lane on Water St. from 5th St. down to Sumner St.; bike lanes on boths sides of Sumner from Water to Washington; a northbound bike lane on Washington St. from Sumner to 4th St.; and on 5th St. lanes on both sides (all the way from College St to the city outskirts on Highway 19; MnDOT is not yet on board with that, I think).

    This is all more understandable by looking at a map. I asked the city to put the map on the Parks and Trail plan page. Engineer Brian Erickson said that would be done soon; he did remind me of the link to the October Park Board packet that has the map on p. 16.

    Griff, I wasn’t sure if your original post was implying that bike lanes would be impractical. Snow removal will always be an issue and will impose an extra cost.

    In addition to bike lanes on streets, a more expensive but potentially more attractive option for a greater variety of cyclists (and potentially safer with the right intersection controls) are cycle tracks: separate bike paths for bikes only, probably going in one direction on each side of the street. These would go in between the sidewalk and the street and would probably be at sidewalk level. This kind of thing has been done in Europe and Boulder, Colorado. Steve Clark of Transit for Livable Communities suggested these for Division Street.

    Remember also that the term “bike path” applies to a facility that is separate from the road and restricted to bikes only, or more loosely, a multi-use path shared with pedestrians; “bike lanes” refer to lanes painted on the street.

    Eric Johnson recently directed me to the book Traffic, by Tom Vanderbilt. See Chapter 7 of that book for interesting ideas about encouraging sharing of the road by multiple transport modes by using FEWER signs and markings, as has been done in the center of some Dutch towns where motor traffic moves more slowly. This is a new idea to me that I’m still absorbing. Perhaps a group of us in town could read and discuss this chapter together with our city engineers. At the very least, I will blog about it!

    Jerry, Jefferson Road is slated by the Parks and Trails plan to get a bike route (signs, no lanes). Jefferson Parkway is supposed to have a study done on it; the Transportation Plan, I’m pretty sure, notes that it’s a problem.

    March 2, 2009

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