A bicyclist was struck and pinned beneath a car Tuesday morning just south of Lake Nokomis in Minneapolis, at an intersection neighbors have complained about for decades.
"The bike was on the side, and all you could see were ankles and feet," said Scott Siegel, owner of Fat Lorenzo's restaurant, which has been rammed by at least four vehicles over 35 years.
"My employees and people that witnessed the accident, customers that were in here, some military guys, all went outside and lifted the car up and pulled him out."
The bicyclist was taken to a hospital with noncritical injuries. The driver stopped and cooperated with police. The crash is under investigation, said Minneapolis police spokesman John Elder.
Neighbors say little has been done to address their safety concerns about the junction of Cedar Avenue, E. Lake Nokomis Parkway and Edgewater Boulevard, where cars barrel on and off Hwy. 77.
Local officials blame inaction on a mire of overlapping jurisdictions and divided responsibility. Cedar Avenue is a county road, E. Lake Nokomis Parkway belongs to the Park Board, and Edgewater Boulevard is a city street.
"It's a very long time now I've been trying to get the county and city to work with me on improving safety at the intersection. It's been a terrible problem intersection for decades," said Park Commissioner Steffanie Musich. "We rely upon the city and county's traffic engineers to propose solutions."
Stephanie Simione, who lived near the intersection for 13 years, said her late husband suffered a concussion from a hit-and-run there more than a decade ago.
"When my husband had his accident, nobody was surprised that it happened right there," she said. "There were close calls at the intersection all the time."
Dozens of residents e-mailed pleas for something to be done during public engagement around the Park Board's Nokomis-Hiawatha Master Plan, which was adopted in 2015.
"Because my wife and daughter, and numerous neighborhood kids, have been brushed by vehicles at that intersection, I think it is a great time for change, especially before the next incident," wrote one neighbor at the time.
"Most of my neighbors have had close calls with cars when they try to cross at the intersection there," wrote another. "I have sat on my front steps and counted the number of cars that actually come to a full stop at that stop sign. It is often one in 10 drivers."
"I was hit by a car while crossing the intersection by Fat Lorenzo's. My 15-year-old daughter was also 'tapped' by a car while biking through that intersection," yet another resident wrote. "From our house we have been able to hear the accidents."
City Council Member Jeremy Schroeder said he's been trying to get the intersection fixed since he was a Hale-Page-Diamond Lake Neighborhood Association board member. He organized town halls about it in March and December 2019 at a nearby church. Musich, Hennepin County Commissioner Angela Conley and dozens of community members attended.
The city installed a radar speed sign and the county placed bollards along Cedar Avenue as a result, but most of the bollards were mowed down by a snowplow this past winter. There's disagreement over whether the guilty plow belonged to the county or Minnesota Department of Transportation.
"[The sign and bollards] were supposed to be the first thing we did. This is an ongoing process," said Schroeder, who promised a more permanent solution. "We just want to make sure this doesn't happen again."
But a permanent change to the intersection would require full reconstruction, said Colin Cox, the county's transportation spokesman. "You have to move things, move sewers, there's obviously lots of things that run underneath the roadway, and so things have to get moved and adjusted and so that takes coordination."
Siegel said neighbors have floated every solution they could think of over the years, including timing the traffic lights differently, replacing the lights with stop signs in all directions, installing a roundabout and removing the intersection altogether.
"We've had neighborhood meetings about it. Hundreds of people show up for the meeting. Everybody gives their input. They vote on stuff. And then nothing happens," he said. "If I had to just put a finger on the whole problem, everyone's going too fast. That's society, I guess."
Susan Du • 612-673-4028