University of Minnesota police say they’ll start slapping bikers on the Washington Avenue Bridge with $80 fines unless they get off their bikes and walk them. The Minnesota Daily reports today that new restrictions on the bridge’s pedestrian level have caused congestion resulting in at least one injury from a collision.
People who pedal and walk between the U of M’s East Bank and West Bank Minneapolis campuses have been corraled in the covered walkway that runs down the middle of the bridge’s upper pedestrian level ever since inspectors examining the bridge to ready it to carry light-rail trains said the bridge might not be safe at the edges.
Minneapolis’s Washington Avenue Bridge offers a bird’s-eye view of the Mississippi riverbank where twisted girders investigators studied from the I-35W bridge remain splayed out as if from a spilled erector set. But the safety restrictions prevent would-be armchair-forensic engineers from taking in the scene from the bridge’s railings.
The $80 fines could prove valuable in another way, though — as a lab for studying congestion pricing. The U of M is a hotbed of interest in the concept, which has demonstration projects already in place along I-394’s toll lanes, with more to come soon on I-35W. It’s only a short walk for researchers at the U of M’s Humphrey Institute for Public Affairs to the Washington Avenue Bridge’s new single Sane Lane for bikes and pedestrians.
Meanwhile, some bicyclists are avoiding collisions, corraling and collaring by cops by abandoning the upper deck altogether to travel on the freeway-like vehicle lanes of the bridge’s lower deck.