The City of Saint Paul Comprehensive Plan establishes a goal to increase the number of people using bicycles to travel around the city. To help accomplish this goal, the City is developing a Bicycle Master Plan to guide the development of a safe, effective, and well-connected network of bicycle facilities, programs, and policies to encourage and facilitate bicycle transportation and recreation.
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The plan will help to define the role of bicycling in our increasingly multi-modal city. The bicycle transportation network must complement other modes of transportation within the City, including walking, transit, automobiles, and freight movement (including rail, truck and boat). In addition, bicycling is an important part of the City’s parks and recreation system.
From Robin Pierce inside Ward 6:
I really am envious of the limited-access bicycle-highway, the Midtown Greenway over in Minneapolis. Riding along the Greenway, 5 and a half miles long, safe from vehicle traffic, sharing the Greenway with skaters and pedestrians, its glorious.
And, As the author Lloyd Alter of http://www.treehugger.com/cars/velo-city-cycle-tracks-will-abound-in-utopia.html puts it
“Those of us who try to ride bikes in the winter often wonder why cars get their own big right-of-way, transit riders get expensive underground subways, pedestrians get an elaborate network of underground walkways, and we, if lucky, get a white line on pavement marking a so-called bike lane filled with snow or cars.” (several more links at bottom of my remarks)
Perhaps there could be, in St. Paul, bicycle highways, limited access, ABOVE the level
of street traffic. Bicycles are not heavy, not like cars or semi-trailers. Structures built to hold them can be lighter, of hollow metal. Think of a roller-coaster track, strong, sturdy, able to withstand stresses yet often, they are painted bright pretty colors, and yet don’t block views or cast large shadows, the way that vehicle bridges can. Here see example http://goo.gl/I0dyG
This way, bicycle through-traffic could get from downtown St. Paul to, say, the University of St. Catherine, or past that and further onward to the river and Ford Parkway, to get across the river to access Minnehaha Park, Lake Nokomis, the Veterans Home or to catch the light-rail there down to the MOA or the airport.
Do you realize that currently, to use the bike-route on Summit Avenue, there are more than 45 cross-streets to either legally stop at, or pause at to be sure that stopped cars see you and to wait for cross-traffic? Not to mention that the hundreds of cars parked along it, every car is a risk that one will open their door suddenly and you will run into it and get injured, sometimes severely.
A bicycle-highway wouldn’t have those car-door risks, or those stops. When you are in a hurry to get to work or class across town…the choice is a risky bike trip with 45 stops versus a car on a highway. And for half the year, bad weather too.
Possibly elevated bike-highways could actually be constructed next to some vehicle highways, in the easements beside or between them, already government owned, no need to negotiate legal issues about where to place the supporting beams. Or, for the same reason, along existing railway tracks, but above, out of the way of the actual trains and the trucks that load them.
An elevated bike-highway could be roofed with solar panels to shelter riders from rain and sunburn, and to shelter the biking surface from snow. Arrange for it to be accessible by a truck with a snowblade for clearing it, as they currently clear the rails-to-trails paths of Vento and Gateway. Pay for it with corporate funding, surely the bike-highway from downtown to the 3M campus could be partly funded by 3M, and simple advertising their products could be painted along its length at intervals on the supporting beams. Who doesn’t like Post-It Notes? (You can recycle them, you know!)
Now, mine is not the first time this is thought of. London has some of these elevated limited-access bicycle highways planned already. More examples can be seen at http://www.thepurehands.org/cycleways/ and Los Angeles planned them way back in 1897, back when it had 500,000 residents.
From Steve Mitrione inside Ward 4:
Saint Paul is making great progress with its biking facilities, infrastructure. I agree that connectivity and north/south routes are key problems right now, but it is getting better every year.
Some misconceptions about “taking away” lanes and how streets are paid for. First, reducing the number of travel lanes from 4 to 3 with a central turn lane, the so called “road diet” benefits everyone. Bicyclists get designated lanes and motorists get safer roads. Motor vehicle crashes decrease on average 29% with no reduction in the carrying capacity of the roads. This translates into benefits for everyone.
Also, that motor vehicle tax does not pay a dime for city streets. Sorry, but MNDOT gets it all. Roads are paid for with city tax dollars, which as residents on a bike or in a car, we all pay. You might argue that car’s are getting the free ride, since when a bicyclist purchases a bike here in St. Paul, he or she pays a sales tax. Cars don’t pay city sales taxes. Cars are not paying their share for city roads and cars inflict way more damage on them, requiring more maintenance with our city tax dollars. Less cars would mean less use of tax dollars for street repair. More bikes means less costs for the city. How can you argue with that?
The other area that needs improvement is snow removal in the winter. DPW needs to plow to the curb. What happens now is that snow gradually builds up in the parking lanes. The cars park farther out into the bike lanes until eventually all the cars are parked in the bike lanes and bicyclists are forced to use the car travel lane. Better plowing = better biking conditions.
From Jeff Christenson inside Ward 1:
In a word, continuity. There’s a bike lane on Marshall, for example, West of Snelling but it doesn’t extend to the East. There seem to be few options for commuters who live/work in downtown St. Paul. Although I think the improvements along Griggs are supposed to help, there are few North-South arterial routes. There doesn’t seem to be a good route to the State Fair (and this would help not only during the fair but year-round, given all the other events and races that occur there).
From Eric Saathoff inside Ward 6:
I want to be able to get everywhere by bike, of course. This means that there should be easy routes to downtown and across town that don’t include going downtown first (as the buses do). For instance, Maryland avenue is a major east-west street in the city that neither has a dedicated bus nor safe biking options.
What is really lacking in this city are connections and continuity. The bike path along Phalen boulevard is wonderful, but it ends horribly at I-94. It is super confusing how to continue going along the same route, and frankly dangerous when the obvious direction is Pennsylvania.
There is a nice bike path along part of Johnson Parkway, but it should be continued all the way south to meet up with Mounds Park. Give us a connected grid to navigate the city!
Sharing the road is nice, but places like Wheelock Parkway do not seem especially useful. There is a sign – no paint or anything else to actually *protect* a biker who takes this route.
I disagree with another poster that wants more bike infrastructure along major arteries. I very much enjoy taking quiet side streets, but there are some major obstructions in St. Paul – namely, highways – and there need to be safe ways to get around these that don’t require a major detour. Crossing 35E is quite frustrating. Each vehicle crossing should include a bikeable option. If a bike is meant to share the sidewalk, mark that to let us know.
From Tim Doherty inside Ward 1:
I think St. Paul is going in the right direction in that it is developing more bike paths and also that you are seeking input from the community. However I agree with most commenters on the lack of continuity of the paths. It’s uninviting as a bicycle commuter and recreational cyclist to have a great path that only gets you part way to your destination. Yes, many drivers are hostile to cyclists, or ignorant of the law, or distracted. Cycling safety depends on both well-marked and separated, dedicated bicycle paths. Increased participation in cycling is great for the community for personal health, reduced air and water pollution, reduced road congestion, and increased quality of life.
I think three of the key objectives should be:
1. A continuous north-south and east-west network of well-marked and/or separated cycing paths.
2. A public awareness and marketing campaign that promotes the existence of our great network of paths, and of the laws and courtesy that drivers should give to one another and to cyclists.
3. Planning in coordination with other municipalities to connect St. Paul with the regional network of cycling paths.
From Betsy Leach inside Ward 7:
We need to include the entire city in the vision of bicycling in St. Paul, not just the western side of town. People on the eastside need to be able to travel easily and safely within their neighborhoods as well as between them and to downtown and other parts of the city. Look at what Public Works gathered from the eastside when they did their outreach for the Master Plan over the past couple of years. Eastsiders had a lot to say. We need to overcome the barriers that separate parts of the city – I-94, !-35E, the river, busy streets. Bicycling needs to be accessible to everyone regardless of age, economic status, gender, ethnicity – envision a system that makes that possible. Connections, connections, connections.
From Brad Davies inside Ward 5:
Seems pretty foolish to take away a lane ( that carries thousands of cars a day) from a street to create a dedicated bike lane that may carry a 100 bicycles on a good day – and only for part of the year at that. Then we can add on the cost of special striping and the cost to businesses and citizens of lost parking.
Streets are built to carry traffic quickly and easily from one place to another. Why are we so intent on taking away their purpose for a very few “special” users?
I am at a loss as to why we need dedicated bike lanes.
I do use bike paths where they are available, around the lakes and in the parks.
I have ridden my bike thousands of miles in St Paul over the last 50+ years and still do, and I have had no issues yet…
I am one of the FEW bike riders that obeys traffic laws and signs – perhaps that has something to do with it???
From Patrick Driscoll inside Ward 2:
I would like to know why, if we are in such financial chaos, do we continue to pay out all the money that is going to bike lanes and the people using them are not paying a dime?
I see no reason for not tacking a 5 or 10 percent fee to the price of each adult bike sold. There would be a sticker plainly visable on any bike being ridden by anyone over 18 years old. I have to pay over $200 per year to drive on these roads. Why should anyone else get their dedicated lanes at our cost?
I also think that the city could pay part of the cost by putting a small advertisment at either end of each block that bike shops and manufactures could pay for.
From Erik Riesenberg inside Ward 3:
In a perfect world, i’d love to see the city find a way to give bicyclists the same access to our roads as vehicles. Identifying certain streets as bicycle/pedestrian only, with a focus on bike/public transit connections. Bike lanes seem to just frustrate drivers, who then in turn, take it out on the cyclists. Having a separate network of thoroughfares dedicated to non-motorized traffic would dramatically reduce the opportunity for aggressive drivers to put cyclist in danger and would likely reduce vehicular/bicycle accidents across the board. Then in areas where it’s clearly necessary for bike and vehicles to share the road(ex.bridges), putting up seasonal barriers(seasonal to allow for snow removal) between the bike and car lanes so as to not allow vehicles to drive where they shouldn’t.
There are 22 comments on this question as of May 9, 2013. Read the rest here.