Bike lanes vs. parking spaces: Iowa City weighs options for Dodge, Governor streets

City Council to discuss Bicycle Master Plan at Tuesday meeting

A cyclist pedals in the bicycle lane June 7 along South Clinton Street at the intersection with East Washington Street i
A cyclist pedals in the bicycle lane June 7 along South Clinton Street at the intersection with East Washington Street in Iowa City. The city is considering six options for adding bike lanes to portions of Dodge and Governor streets. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — Iowa City transportation staff are seeking feedback from the City Council on options to add bike lanes to portions of Dodge and Governor streets, including reducing parts of the thoroughfares to a single lane.

The City Council is scheduled to discuss implementation of the city’s Bike Master Plan during a work session Tuesday. Specifically, transportation planner Kent Ralston will brief council members on options for adding bike lanes to the portions of Dodge and Governor that run between Burlington and Bowery streets. Both segments are identified in the Bike Master Plan to receive bike lanes. Governor Street has a buffered bike lane north of Burlington Street, and Dodge Street north of Burlington is scheduled to get a buffered bike lane this fall.

The issue, Ralston explained in a memo to the council, is adding bike lanes between Burlington and Bowery would require the elimination of roughly 40 on-street parking spaces, something that ruffled a few feathers in the neighborhood. The city hosted a neighborhood meeting in August for residents and business owners.

“While very few participants voiced concerns with the elimination of on-street parking on Dodge Street, a clear majority of property owners and residents of Governor Street did not wish to move forward if the project necessitated the elimination of on-street parking,” Ralston wrote in the memo.

Concerns expressed during the meeting included potential issues stemming from a lack of off-street parking options, poor alley maintenance, inaccessibility during winter months, lack of access for elderly and disabled residents, adequate parking for the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church at 411 S. Governor St. and a possible increase in vehicle speeds and collisions.

Ralston outlined six potential paths forward:

• Eliminate on-street parking and implement the bike lanes. This option would require the city to provide on-street parking for AME Bethel Church.

• Eliminate on-street parking on Dodge Street and provide shared-lane arrow pavement markings on Governor Street. Ralston noted that Dodge Street would be less affected by the loss of parking and sees twice the daily traffic as Governor. Shared lane markings and signage would alert drivers to expect the presence of cyclists, he said.


• Eliminate one lane on both Dodge and Governor and implement a buffered bike lane. This would require Governor Street between Burlington and Bowery to revert to one-way after being converted to a two-way route in recent years.

• Widen Dodge and Governor streets and add bike lanes. This option would allow for adding bike lanes while maintaining on-street parking, but would cost about $400,000, Ralston said.

• Create a shared parking/bike lane on Dodge and Governor. By creating a shared lane, the city could limit parking in the lane to nights and weekends when bicycle traffic is lower. This approach has been used in other cities, but not in Iowa City, Ralston said.

• Keep the current setup and do not eliminate on-street parking at all. Ralston said shared lane arrow markings still could be added to the roads.

Ralston did not offer a recommendation on which option is preferred by city staff and is seeking feedback from the council.

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