Following the departure of Emily Erickson, the city of Saint Paul hired a new Sustainable Transportation Planner. His name is Reuben Collins and he is an engineer, cyclist, parent, homeowner and blogger. You can read his blog posts on http://www.streets.mn/ and on his own blog at http://velotraffic.com/
His primary job will be to complete the city’s comprehensive bicycle plan but he’ll be involved in other planning and implementation projects including (we hope) reviving the city’s bike rack cost-share program.
At a hearing on Wedsday evening, September 5th, the Charles Avenue Bikeway was approved by the Saint Paul City Council on a 5-2 vote. Dan Bostrom and David Thune were the only dissenting votes. The bikeway would run the entire length of Charles from Park Street on the east end to Aldine on the west end. It would have bike boulevard treatments to calm traffic and allow cyclists to cross busy north/south boulevards. Treatments include traffic circles (replacing stop signs) at a number of intersections, closing off the Snelling median at Charles to create a bike/ped refuge and similar or other treatments at Lexington, Dale, Marion and Rice streets.
The Bikeway is partly intended to help cyclists deal with the narrowing of University Avenue for the LRT project and the elimination of on-street parking from most of University, something that will make University difficult to bike on in the future. It remains to be seen what the city will do about accommodating bicycles on the University Avenue corridor west of Aldine street and east of Park street, as University itself is the only way to get across various railroad, warehouse and highway obstacles and is currently used by a lot of cyclists. We’re hoping to get space on the avenue itself if some on-street parking is restored in what is currently the outside travel lane.
You can see photos and commentary from our West Side ride on our Facebook Page at—
The July 10th SPBC meeting will be a West Side Ride. We’ll leave from the Kellogg/river side of City Hall promptly at 7pm. Councilman Russ Stark will join us. We’ll ride over the Wabasha bridge and examine the gap between its southeast end and the Caesar Chavez bike lanes. We’ll ride around the neighborhood a bit and return on Roberts Street for a little post-ride discussion. Join us!
For the entire month of June, there will be a show of bicycle drawings and comics by local artists Ken Avidor, Roger Lootine and Andy Singer at Black Dog Cafe (corner of Prince and Broadway in downtown Saint Paul). To celebrate Twin Cities Bike Walk Week, there will be an opening reception for the show on Friday, June 8, starting at 7pm, with a few cases of free beer supplied by Summit Brewing. To see the poster for the show, go to— http://www.andysinger.com/bike_comics_show_poster.jpg
To download a high-resolution, printable version of the poster, go to— http://www.andysinger.com/bike_comics_show_poster.pdf
Last meeting our ride got rained out but this time we’re going to do it rain or shine. Meet at Black Dog Cafe at the corner of Prince (4th) and Broadway, across from the Farmers Market at 7pm. We’ll ride up Swede Hollow out Margaret Street to McKnight and back downtown. Along the way, we’ll look at connections (or lack of) between the East Side and Downtown, examine what would be necessary to make Margaret Street into a Bike Boulevard, and check out the I-94 overpasses at McKnight and Ruth.
Members of the Saint Paul Bicycle Coalition, Saint Paul city staff and Nick Mason at the Bicycle Alliance submitted an application to the the League of American Cyclists for “Bicycle Friendly City” status. We received this status at the “Bronze” level. In addition, the League provided us with an evaluation report that outlines some things we’re doing well and some things we need to do better. You can download and read a copy of the report: http://www.saintpaulbicyclecoalition.org/bike_friendly_cities.pdf
4 members of the Saint Paul Bicycle Coalition interviewed some of the candidates for city council. Our goal was not to endorse anyone but to give our members and the broader Saint Paul Community a sense of where the candidates stand on bicycling issues. We sent the candidates summaries of our interviews and a brief 4-question survey so they could edit or modify their earlier responses. The Ward 2 candidates we did by survey alone. In the interests of full disclosure, Jim Ivey (Ward 2 candidate) is a member of the Bicycle Coalition.
Dave Thune is an occasional recreational cyclist and multi-term city councilman. He was pleased to get bike lanes striped on Jefferson Avenue thru Ward 2, but he believes we still have major gaps in the city’s and ward’s bicycle infrastructure. He’d like to get the 9th/10th street bridge over I-94 restriped. He hopes that issues going down the Ohio Hill will be addressed by the new construction of a safe bike lane going down to Harriet Island and Lilydale. He would like to see more bike lane striping to assist in safe school routes and commuter lanes in and thru downtown and the West Side. He would also like to continue expanding the bike parking stands that exist along Grand Avenue and West Seventh, where he funded a grant to add them. Finally, he still advocates for the permanent installation of bike lanes and greening along Ayd Mill Road. “Bicycling should be at an equal level from a transportation standpoint as ped and vehicle. As we anticipate completion of the Central Corridor LRT, we have an opportunity to link our two cities along what is now a vehicle route and make it truly practical to commute between cities by bicycle.”
Jim Ivey bikes recreationally and is a former bike commuter (from downtown to Lexington Avenue and County Road E). He’d like to see more and better signage and way-finding for existing trails (like Bruce Vento and the I35E trails) as well as new lanes and trails. He believes there are currently no reliable routes through downtown that are safe and friendly for bikers. He’d try to capitalize on LRT construction to correct this and encourage cycling between the cluster of government buildings around the capitol and downtown commercial destinations. “The Bike Walk Central Corridor Action Plan contains a number of recommendations for improvement, and we need leadership to turn these recommendations into reality,” he says. He’d look at where bike, pedestrian and development goals all intersect. “We should make it safe and fun to bike from any part of the city through downtown as a nexus to other destinations. As downtown becomes more and more of a neighborhood and we seek to continue the revitalization of independent, unique retail and food destinations, safe and vibrant bike traffic becomes a big win for everybody.” He cites several project ideas that would help cyclists, pedestrians and surrounding neighborhoods. These include creating a resting place right at the top of the High bridge along Smith Ave with a water fountain, benches, easy bike parking and signage or a map to indicate neighborhood points of interest. He’d also focus on improving intersections that are dangerous for both pedestrians and bikes, such as the intersection at Ohio Ave and Winifred St. “Bicycling must become a core part of our transportation system. At the level of our society, we see great challenges in the areas of rising fuel costs, climate change and obesity. More people on bikes can contribute significantly to the solutions to these problems. Bicycle infrastructure is much less expensive than new roads and mass transit, both in terms of original development and ongoing maintenance. …More bikes means more eyes on the street, more trips that emphasize local businesses and destinations, and more people with a greater sense of community.”
Eve Stein is not a cyclist but some of her kids are. She opposed the public process for the Jefferson Bike Boulevard and the Cleveland median, which she felt lacked sufficient community involvement. She “understands the desire of some to add bicycle lanes to serve the entire city (but her) principal objections have been committing to, and spending a great deal of money on adding something not absolutely necessary at a time when city finances are very uncertain and other services are being cut for lack of funding.” She was unaware that substantial community support exists for the Jefferson Bike Boulevard and some sort of crossing aids at Cleveland and Cretin but she attended a recent public meeting on Jefferson and heard supporters (as well as opponents). She would not commit to trying to get sharrow markings painted back onto Jefferson, west of Snelling. She was also unaware of efforts and meetings with MnDOT to make Snelling and Montreal more bike and pedestrian friendly but seemed open to the idea. Her main transportation interests are improving bus service in Ward 3 and getting trucks off of Snelling (largely for noise reasons) and putting them onto I-35E or onto Ayd Mill Road. In general, she favors buses and feels the University Ave light rail project has major flaws.
John Mannillo and his wife Lee occasionally bike recreationally in Crosby Lake, Hidden Falls, and Fort Snelling. He didn’t have a position on the Jefferson Bike Boulevard or median but was aware that it was a very contentious issue. From door knocking, he’d heard from a lot of opponents but also attended an open house on Jefferson hosted by a bike boulevard supporter. Like Stein, he attended the recent public meeting on Jefferson hosted by Public Works and heard supporters as well as opponents. He was also unaware of meetings with MnDOT to improve biking/walking on Snelling and Montreal but seemed open to this and trying to work out some compromise on Jefferson. We’re unsure of where he stands on the issue of bike projects in the city generally but he expressed interest in developing some combination of public transit and bike path along the rail corridor to the Ford Plant when it finally closes and gets redeveloped.
Chris Tolbert is an occasional recreational cyclist. He opposed the Jefferson Bike Boulevard and median and was not really aware that substantial community support exists for both. He didn’t see the need for either, but does see the need for a north-south bike route. Like Stein and Mannillo, he would not commit to trying to get sharrow markings painted back on Jefferson, west of Snelling. He was also unaware of efforts and meetings with MnDOT to make Snelling and Montreal more bike and pedestrian friendly. We’re unsure of where he stands on this issue or bicycle projects in the city generally as he wasn’t very vocal or curious about them.
Amy Brendmoen bikes recreationally, for errands, to events and is a former bicycle commuter (8-mile commute back and forth to Minneapolis). She is acutely aware of some of the gaps in the city’s bike lane and trail system and need for north-south routes up to and through Ward 5, including a good connection from Como Pavilion to Stillwater via Wheelock Pkwy and the Gateway Trail. She also questions the designation of Lexington as part of a bike route because “It is incredibly unsafe for bikers and motorists to share that roadway as it currently exists.” She’d like to get more people to walk and bike to Como park, in part to reduce neighborhood traffic. She thinks this could be done with better walk/bike routes and possibly charging for parking at Como Park and some other Saint Paul parks, as both a revenue generator for the parks and to deter driving. She points out that Minneapolis parks like Minnehaha charge for parking. “Bicycling is growing in popularity thanks to better trails, more mainstreaming, and higher fuel prices. …Creating smart bikeways improves livability, calms traffic, provides business opportunities and creates opportunities for people and families to be active in a safer riding environment.”
Lee Helgan is a recreational cyclist and current city councilman. He got bike lanes striped on Como Avenue and has been heavily involved in developing Trillium Park at the south end of the Gateway Trail. He didn’t wish to participate in our survey.
The City of Saint Paul will be hosting three public open houses in September in order to gather public input on the Citywide Bicycle Plan. You can see and read the draft plan at: http://www.stpaul.gov/index.aspx?NID=4604
The Citywide Bicycle Plan will provide bicycle infrastructure recommendations regarding bikeways, end-trip facilities, and priority implementation projects. In order to make that plan as relevant as possible, the city wants input from the public on where they’d like to get by bike and what barriers exist today that keep them from doing so. These open houses will provide an opportunity for the public to share their thoughts on these points. The open houses will take place from 4:00-7:00pm at the following dates and locations:
Monday, September 12 - El Rio Vista Recreation Center
Thursday, September 22 - West Minnehaha Recreation Center
Monday, September 26 - Phalen Recreation Center
For those who are not able to make it to these open houses, there will be an online alternative, through Survey Monkey, which will go live in September.