COMMUNITY VOICES | The perils of 42nd Street East

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For the past decade 42nd Street East has become a showcase for the conflict between urban expansion and ecology. As a result, the street has lost its identity and now serves as nothing more than an eyesore, headache, and danger to the community. 

This “evolution” (or should I say “de-evolution”) has taken place slowly over the past decade but is certainly highlighted by these key events:

The removal of many corner bus stops:

While residents may have initially praised this move, since it resulted in less people hanging around their front yards while they waited for the bus, we have now learned that faster bus service equals an increase in the overall traffic speed. Today, there is a “your speed” trailer at the intersection of 23rd Ave South and 42nd Street East. I consistently see cars and buses blazing through the intersection at speeds between 38 and 42 MPH. The posted speed limit is 30 MPH. Less stops means faster buses and faster traffic overall.  

The restriping of 42nd street:

Last year the section between Cedar Ave. and Hiawatha was restriped in an attempt to make this stretch of road more user friendly to bicyclists. Unfortunately, what has resulted is a Frankenstein’s monster of a road. The lanes drift to and fro, most of the paint has already completely worn away, and nobody really seems to know where a bike lane begins and the road ends. A few months ago, a driver drove right through a bike lane and totalled my car (which was parked along the curb). Imagine what would have happened if there was someone on a bike in that lane? If people are driving too fast to see and react to parked cars how are we ever supposed to be able to safely bike here? 

Another ill effect of the restriping is the fact that traffic is now directed over manhole covers which were previously located between the center line of the road. Whenever a car drives over the manhole covers, the houses on the corners of the intersection physically shake as a result of the vibrations caused by the impact of the wheels on the cover. Not only that, there is a loud “bang” every time this happens. 

The parking restrictions on the north side of 42nd street:

The most recent event was the placement of “no parking” signs between 21st Ave South and 26th Ave South on 42nd street. Thus seems to have been done in accordance to the restriping plan (since the signs are on the opposite side of the new bike paths) but is in direct opposition to everything except the blacktop (there are 16 houses which face 42nd street from the north side- meaning they can no longer park in from of their homes- and all the fire hydrants are located on the south side of the street, where parking is permitted).  

All in all, 42nd Street East has become a nightmare for everyone who uses it. It is a confusing mess on which to drive, a raucous source of noise pollution for those who live near it, and a danger for pedestrians, bicyclists, and anyone trying to cross it and enjoy the amenities of the Minnehaha Parkway and Lakes Hiawatha and Nokomis. 

I have made several attempts to see resolutions to these issues. I have contacted 311, Minneapolis Traffic Dept., and the City Council, to no avail. In addition to correcting the problems caused by the restriping and parking restrictions, I am requesting better measures to keep cars at the speed limit (perhaps a permanent “your speed” sign like the one near 46th and Park) and a stop sign at the intersection of 23rd Ave South (the midpoint of the “danger zone”). 

I implore everyone to join me in raising our collective voices until something gets done. Call and email 311. Call and email Ward 12… keep calling and emailing until this road gets fixed. 

This is our city, let’s take back our roads.