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Downtown bicyclists getting reminders

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Wojcik

Amid a move to raise awareness of a ban on riding bikes on sidewalks in downtown Rochester, city council member Michael Wojcik made a pitch to create safe paths through the section of the city.

He asked fellow council members to direct public works staff to build temporary protected bike lanes on sections of Center Street and Fourth Avenue Northwest and Southwest.

Protected bike lanes typically place a barrier between bicyclists and cars on the street, offering separation of the two modes of transportation.

Richard Freese, director of Rochester Public Works, said the time and funds needed to design temporary barriers are not available, but he plans to add a permanent project on the two streets to his budget request for 2018.

At the same time, he noted the proposed ordinance change, which mirrors state law, doesn't necessarily limit options for bicyclists who worry about sharing the street.

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"This does not preclude people with bikes from being on the sidewalks. It precludes them from riding on the sidewalks," he said, noting bicyclists can choose to walk their bikes through the downtown.

It is not against the ordinance or state law to ride bikes on sidewalks outside business districts.

In the end, the council unanimously approved the ordinance change, which clarifies where bikes are banned and lays groundwork for a planned effort to post signs and markings to raise awareness of the ban.

Freese said with the ordinance change approved, the signs and stencils on downtown sidewalks could be installed by Aug. 1.

In other business, the council:

• Approved a $35,000 contract with Walker Parking Consultants for a parking rate study.

• Approved the release of $1.5 million in dedicated sales tax funds to University of Minnesota Rochester to create labs and other areas in space leased in a planned Discovery Square building.

• Postponed a decision on an agreement to create a concept for art connected to the city's new parking ramp being built on First Avenue Southeast.

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• Approved tax-increment financing districts for Eastgate Apartments at 1201 Eastgate Drive SE and Residences at Discovery Square on Sixth Street Southwest, between Third and Fourth avenues.

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Freese

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