COMMUNITY VOICES | Open Saint Paul: What concerns do you have regarding the safety or comfort of walking, biking, or driving on Marshall Avenue? What opportunities do you see for improvement?


The City of Saint Paul has begun a community-based study to explore opportunities to improve safety and comfort along Marshall Avenue between Snelling Avenue and John Ireland Boulevard. This project builds off the 2010 Bike Walk Central Corridor Action Plan that identified Marshall Avenue as a bicycle alternative to University Avenue, as well as community efforts to improve Marshall Avenue over the last 15 years. This study may identify additional minor improvements west of Snelling Avenue, but will primarily seek to identify appropriate improvements east of Snelling Avenue. The City Public Works department has requested funding through the CIB process to implement improvements identified through this study.

Open Saint Paul is an online forum for civic engagement. Read what others are saying about important Saint Paul topics, then post your own statement. City staff and officials will read the statements and incorporate them into their decision-making process. Click here for more information on Open Saint Paul.

The study has been initiated in response to concerns raised by members of the community regarding the following:

  • safety of pedestrians and cyclists along the corridor
  • safety of pedestrians and cyclists crossing the corridor
  • vehicle speeds along Marshall Avenue

The study will also seek to identify the needs of the institutions along the corridor, including St. Paul College, Central High School, Concordia University, and others. In a concurrent effort, Transit for Livable Communities is conducting a complete streets analysis of this section of Marshall Avenue to improve bicycling, walking, and manage traffic. Particular attention will be paid to safety challenges associated with intersections and how changes will affect traffic circulation, pedestrian and bicyclist safety, and provide traffic calming. This is where your input comes in. Your answers to this Open St Paul question supplement a public meeting held on Wednesday, April 10 (6:30-8:30) at the Oxford Community Center.

From Jeff Christenson inside Ward 1:

As an aspiring year-round bike-commuter and resident living on Marshall Ave., I would like to see the bike lanes extend at least to Lexington. I have no vested interest in bike lanes East of Lexington and judging from the one time I rode my bike on that stretch of Marshall, it does seem narrower and I wonder whether a bike lane is appropriate there.

I also share the concern of the other commenter who noted that the raised medians in place now on Marshall West of Snelling make it virtually impossible for large vehicles to pass cyclists safely when cyclists are in the bike lane. My practice is to ride on the left side of the bike lane, to avoid colliding with open doors. When large vehicles pass closely (and this stretch of Marshall is on a bus route), it is definitely unnerving.

So for me this boils down to two things: (1) bike lanes East of Snelling with buffer zones between the bike lane and the parking lane, and (2) judicious use of medians and avoiding raised medians if possible (allowing vehicles space to pass safely and making it easier for plows in the winter). I look at the medians recently installed on Selby Ave. as a model.

From Dave Peterson inside Ward 1:

I live on Marshall Avenue and strongly favor steps to make this street safer for pedestrians and bike riders. There are many things the city could do to make Marshall safer and more attractive. First, the city should complete installation of the median from Snelling Avenue to Victoria Street. The median makes the street easier to cross and more attractive. Second, please install bike lanes for bike riders. Finally, more stop signs are needed between Lexington Avenue and Victoria Street. The absence of stop signs or lights for more than 2 blocks causes drivers to drive faster. At present the street is designed to function like a quasi freeway and is unsafe for all.

From Benita Warns inside Ward 4:

I am an experienced bicyclist and I feel very unsafe when riding on Marshall Avenue in the areas where there are center medians. The reason is that there is not enough room for oversized motor vehicles (school buses, trucks, etc.) to leave the legally required three foot clearance when passing me. Drivers can choose between squeezing through next to me and violating the law or waiting until they get past the median area so they can use the center lane area to pass me, which significantly slows traffic and frustrates motorists. Most drivers choose to squeeze through. My fear is that someone parked alongside the bike lane will suddenly open their car door in front of me, but when I try to take evasive action to avoid the crash, someone driving up from behind will hit me because the median prevents them from moving over. These medians do not provide enough help for pedestrians using crosswalks at intersections to offset the unsafe conditions that they have created for bicyclists. Continuous medians encourage pedestrians to make illegal mid-block crossings (jaywalking).

Instead of continuous center medians, small raised islands with an at-grade cut through should be placed at key pedestrian crossings to improve safety. Continuous center medians belong on freeways, not neighborhood streets.

From Dottie Johnson inside Ward 1:

I have no problems with walking, i am comfortable with it.

I don’t see many bikers, but it looks like it would be difficult and dangerous from Western Ave. to Victoria. I would suggest bikers find a different route, as there seems to be no room for a dedicated lane.

I seldom encounter speeders.

From Dave Edquist inside Ward 4:

Safety improvements need to be in harmony and not at the expense of access to business. Businesses are equally important in the services that they provide to residents. Business owners are residents and tax payers too.

There are 5 comments on this question as of April 21, 2013. Read the full thread here.

Also in the Daily Planet:

St. Paul residents discuss Marshall Avenue improvement plans (Ibrahim Hirsi, 2013)