St. Paul City Council voted Wednesday to approve a controversial plan for bicycle lanes along Cleveland Avenue after hearing from passionate opponents and supporters who live and work in the area.
The bike lanes would run from Highland Parkway to University Avenue and would remove some on-street parking along the route. The lanes would connect several hubs of activity along Cleveland Avenue, including the University of St. Thomas and St. Catherine University.
Dick Trotter, who owns Trotter’s Café on Cleveland Avenue, was one of several business owners who said the plan would burden their customers.
“It will be devastating to my business to lose that kind of grab-and-go parking,” he said.
Residents said parking limitations on Cleveland Avenue would push additional cars into surrounding streets.
“There’s going to be a trickledown effect,” said Deb Mitchell, who lives on Dayton Avenue, which she said is already “wall-to-wall cars.”
Many cyclists also turned out at the public hearing, including Andy Singer, who said he looks forward to using the lanes every day. Supporters of the plan said it would make travel safer along the road.
The plan next must be voted on by the Ramsey County Board.
If approved, the first phase of the project, from Highland Parkway to St. Anthony Avenue, is scheduled to be implemented this year.
In addition to the bike lanes, the city plans to add new one- and two-hour parking spaces along roads and to construct two half-block parking bays to alleviate community concerns about the loss of on-street parking. City staff estimate that phase one would cost $266,500.
The timeline hasn’t been determined for the second phase of the project, from St. Anthony Avenue to University Avenue. It is projected to cost $95,500.
The City Council delayed a vote on the project in June and decided to study it further after receiving a massive amount of public input.
A community work group met for several months to discuss the project and gather public input on where a north-south bicycle route should be located.
The majority of the group ended up recommending Cleveland Avenue, but stressed that parking mitigation was needed.
“Ultimately, what we’re trying to do here is build a city that’s safer for everyone to get around in,” Council President Russ Stark said Wednesday as the board approved the plan in a 5-2 vote.
Council Members Jane Prince and Dan Bostrom voted against the proposal.