St. Louis Park will move forward with a controversial plan to install a bike lane on a portion of Wooddale Avenue, despite resident objections.
The City Council approved the plan Monday night, with members Anne Mavity, Rachel Harris and Tim Brausen voting in favor. Larry Kraft, Nadia Mohamed and Margaret Rog voted against it. Mayor Jake Spano broke the tie, voting in favor of the bike lane.
Residents had fiercely opposed the $556,250 project, which they say would make Wooddale less safe between 44th Street and 42½ Street. The Wooddale section is estimated to cost $250,000. It also calls for the removal of 10 large trees and eliminates most parking on the two-block segment of Wooddale to make way for the bike lane that is part of the Southeast Bikeway.
"It's a pretty sad day for St. Louis Park," said JC Beckstrand, who has lived on Wooddale for 30 years and was among the most outspoken opponents.
Beckstrand and several others at a public hearing two weeks ago advocated for a pilot in which the city would install a "sharrow" — a lane bicyclists share with vehicles. They said a shared lane would be a better solution and in line with the configuration on nearby 44th Street. Plans for the Southeast Bikeway call for a sharrow as it branches off Wooddale and goes north along Princeton and Quentin avenues to Excelsior Boulevard.
They also proposed moving the Southeast Bikeway over a block west to Browndale Avenue or east to Grimes Avenue.
"They never considered an alternative," Beckstrand said.
The Southeast Bikeway would be one of three bike lanes built in 2020 as part of Connect the Park, the west metro suburb's 10-year plan to add more bikeways, sidewalks and trails. The city's goal is to get more people out of their cars by prioritizing pedestrians, then bicycles and public transit, and lastly, vehicular traffic.
City officials said putting the bike lane on Wooddale was the safest option.
Wooddale Avenue carries 3,200 vehicles a day, about double the traffic on other streets along the Southeast Bikeway.
Construction could begin this fall and run through spring 2021.