Parking on 38th Street

As previously mentioned, the current city plan for bike lanes on 38th Street is to allow parking in the bike lane from 6 am to noon in two spots near local businesses. While I wasn’t personally there to witness it, I’m told that Council member Andrew Johnson described this new plan as a “compromise” at a recent public meeting on the project, presumably meant to accommodate these businesses’ need for parking. Which must mean that parking is in short supply in these spots, right?

I decided to go look. Warning: this isn’t scientific. I’m not an expert on parking, and I’m not paid to do this. I just went to look. (City staff looked at capacity, finding the 38th is roughly 8% of capacity in the area, but not at parking demand or utilization.)

37th Avenue

The first spot where cars will be able to park in the bike lane for up to 15 minutes at a time is on south side of the street on the half block west of 37th Avenue. This is what that stretch looked like at roughly 8:45 am on Wednesday, May 10:

May 10, 2017, 8:46 am

As you can see, there are four cars parked and room for maybe two more. Here’s the next day:

May 11, 2017, 8:50 am

About 24 hours later, there are two cars parked in this stretch.

Clearly, people park here to visit this business. But must they? Is there anywhere else they could park?

Well, have a look at that second picture. Maybe the shadow makes it hard to see, but there are open parking spots on 37th Avenue immediately in front of the business too. Enough space for both of the cars that were parked on 38th at the time. Are we really supposed to believe that if parking wasn’t allowed on 38th, these two drivers wouldn’t bother to make a turn and park just as close to their destination?

You can’t see it in the first picture, but take my word for it that those spots, immediately in front of the business on 37th Avenue were occupied on May 10, but nonetheless, those cars would not have had to go far to find a spot:

37th Avenue looking north toward 38th Street, May 10, 2017, 8:46 am.

This is the view from the middle of the block on 37th Avenue looking north toward 38th Street. It was actually a fairly busy parking day, but nonetheless, there are several open spots on the east side of the street (hard to see, but there are spots in front of that SUV too, closer to the corner). Indeed, I saw the woman on the left side of the photo park and walk into the business on the corner.

Things were even more wide open the next day:

37th Avenue looking north toward 38th Street, May 11, 2017, 8:49 am.

This time you can also see that there’s wide-open parking on 37th on the north side of 38th Street too.

Unfortunately I didn’t take a picture, but I also noted on May 11 that no one was using the outdoor seating that currently takes up all of Fireroast’s parking lot. That’s not surprising. I would imagine that most people grabbing coffee on a weekday morning aren’t stopping to enjoy outdoor seating. Maybe Fireroast could use that space for its 3-4 parking spots from 6am to noon instead of the bike lane.

Regardless, there just doesn’t seem to be a parking shortage here.

42nd Avenue

I thought this corner would be different. After all, there are businesses on all four corners, and bus stops that already take up street space that could be used for parking. If there was a spot that might experience a parking crunch that would need a morning rush compromise, this might be it.

But then I looked. Here’s May 10:

38th Street, looking east from 42nd Avenue, May 10, 2017, 8:51 am.

There are five cars parked on 38th Street. Absent the “compromise” those five cars would need to find somewhere else to park.

42nd Avenue looking north from 38th Street. May 10, 2017, 8:52 am.

Luckily, there’s room over on 42 Avenue. On this day, it might require walking a tad farther, but not always.

38th Street just east of 42 Avenue. May 11, 2017, 8:54 am.

The next day, there were 4 cars parked on 38th. And this is the situation on 42nd:

42nd Avenue, north of 38th Street. May 11, 2017, 8:54 am.

At this point in time, there’s closer parking available, right in front of the business.

So again, the question isn’t whether there will be parking. It’s whether those drivers would be willing to turn to park, pretty much just as close to the business they are visiting. Do you really think they won’t?


As I said, this isn’t scientific. It’s just two snapshots in time (three for 37th, if you count the photo in my last post). Maybe there are other times when parking really gets crunched in the mornings (although, note how non-crunched parking on the cross streets is in the aerial photos used in the city’s revised plan). But maybe someone should actually document that before we start compromising safety by allowing parking in the bike lane?

Adam Miller

About Adam Miller

Adam Miller works downtown and lives in South Minneapolis. He's an avid user of the city's bike paths, sidewalks and skyways. He's not entirely certain he knows what the word "urbanist" means.