NEWS DAY | Big bike plans in St. Paul

St. Paul just released a big plan to increase St. Paul bikeways from 144 to 358 miles. That sounds great — but what kind of bikeways are we talking about?

Documents published January 21 five kinds of "bikeway facility type groups," including almost every road from busy Snelling Avenue to the paved, off-road path along River Road. If you use the streets in St. Paul at all, as a biker, walker or driver, the plans will affect you. One starting point in understanding the 45-page draft Saint Paul Bikeways Plan is the description of five types of lanes.

  • Type 1: Shared Lane
  • Type 2: Enhanced Shared Lane
  • Type 3: Bicycle Boulevard
  • Type 4: In‐Street Separated Lane
  • Type 5: Off‐Street Path

What's a Type 1 Shared Lane? It sounds like just about anywhere short of a freeway:

"A shared lane is a roadway where bicycles are permitted that is not included in one of the other facility type groups. These corridors do not have any signage, striping, or pavement markings specific to the operation of a bicycle."

 A Type 2 Enhanced Shared Lane has some kind of signs, from the bicycle painted on the pavement ("sharrows") to "Bike May Use Full Lane" signage — just about any sign recognizing the existence of bikes. Personally, I don't find that these make me feel much safer when I'm biking.

Type 3 Bicycle Boulevards have more emphasis on biking — maybe bumpouts or traffic circles or, again, sharrows.

Type 4 In-Street Separate Lanes are the ones that look to me like "real" bike lanes, described as "An in‐street separated lane [designating] a portion of a roadway for exclusive use by bicyclists." Think Summit Avenue and much of Marshall Avenue now. These would also include buffered lanes and cycle tracks, a step up from anything I've seen in St. Paul.

Type 5 Off-Street Paths are the top-of-line paths, like the one on River Road, completely separated from automobile traffic, sometimes shared with pedestrians, and with a lower speed limit posted.

Besides the kinds of streets, the report looks at the kinds of bike riders (page 9 in the draft document):

  • Group A ‐ Advanced Bicyclists – Advanced or experienced riders are generally using their bicycles as they would a motor vehicle. They are riding for convenience and speed and want direct access to destinations with a minimum of detour or delay.
  • Group B ‐ Basic or less confident adult riders may also be using their bicycles for transportation purposes, e.g., to get to the store or to visit friends, but prefer to avoid roads with fast and busy motor vehicle traffic unless there is ample roadway width to allow easy overtaking by faster motor vehicles.
  • Group C ‐ Children, riding on their own or with their parents, may not travel as fast as their adult counterparts but still require access to key destinations in their community, such as schools, convenience stores and recreational facilities.

The city's plan distinguishes between Major Bikeways that "carry the majority of longer‐distance bicycle trips and provide the primary connections to major attractions and trip generators," Minor Bikeways that "provide neighborhood level connectivity to the Major Bikeway," and access bikeways, which are basically all other streets.

Under the plan, "Major bikeways should be distributed throughout Saint Paul at approximately one‐mile spacing." The plan makes specific recommendations for completing the Grand Round, and for a downtown St. Paul loop.

Here's the summary (page 35 of the draft document):

Have a specific concern or want to know about specific plans for your neighborhood? There are four open houses in February:

Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014, 6:00-8:00 PM
El Rio Vista Recreation Center/Wellstone Community Center
179 Robie St E
Saint Paul, MN 55107

Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, 6:00-8:00 PM
Macalester College
Weyerhauser Ballroom in Weyerhauser Hall
(building is on the southeast corner of Grand Avenue and Macalester Street)

Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014, 6:00-8:00 PM
Duluth & Case Recreation Center
1020 Duluth St
Saint Paul, MN 55106

Thursday, Feb 20, 2014, 6:00-8:00 PM
CapitolRiver Council Office (Adjacent Conference Room)
US Bank Center Building
101 East 5th Street
Suite 240
Saint Paul, MN 55101






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    Mary Turck's picture
    Mary Turck

    Mary Turck (maryturck [at] gmail [dot] com) is a freelance writer, editor, teacher, and lifelong activist, and former editor of the TC Daily Planet.