MINNEAPOLIS – Stopping crime in a popular nightlife area starts with stopping traffic.
That’s the plan in Dinkytown near the University of Minnesota campus the next three weekends.
One block of 5th Street Southeast and one block of 14th Avenue Southeast will be closed off, specially where the two roads intersect.
It starts at 4 p.m. Thursday night and runs until 10 a.m. Sunday. It’s called the “Dinkytown Safety and Pedestrian Access Pilot” and will run for three consecutive weekends.
The idea was created by the Strategic Safety Advisory Committee, a collaboration between the university, Minneapolis and university police, and the City of Minneapolis.
“I appreciate trying to do something to try and make it safer,” said Nicholas Simser, a recent graduate who lives in the area.
“Road closed” signs were set up at a couple intersections. Concrete pylons were placed on sidewalks and in areas where cars typically parked on the street.
Organizers of the pilot hope pedestrians will feel safe while those wanting to cause problems steer clear.
“After hearing about the shootings and violence happening around here, I thought it was a good idea to do it,” said Jake Coleman, a University of St. Thomas student who visits the area.
One recent shooting happened near Burrito Loco, just around the corner from the road closures. Windows were shot out at the restaurant earlier this month, leading to a temporary closure.
The restaurant’s owner told WCCO he thinks shutting down a couple blocks will simply push the problems elsewhere, not stop them. The loss of parking spots for some businesses, especially during the day, is another one of his concerns.
Others, however, are worried a new safety issue was created. With no vehicle access, finding your ride home has an extra hurdle.
“Just like where you’re gonna go to get to your ride. Even if not an Uber, someone’s picking you up from the bar like, how are you gonna get there,” wondered Branna Ewing, a St. Thomas student who also visits the neighborhood. “As a young woman, it’s kind of scary to have to go out of the way to get something, rather than just walking out the door.”
Despite that concern, Ewing was happy to know she could cross the street without worry of traffic. That element helped her feel safer.
Simser feels more security at night in the area would also help deter crime beyond the closures.
“I think it’s maybe a good first step. There’s probably more that needs to be done,” Simser said.
To see if the road closures make a difference, the university will monitor 911 call logs over the coming weeks, as well as the need for the university’s SAFE-U notifications, among other metrics.
Source: CBS Minnesota