Updated bike plan focuses on separated bike lanes


More separated bikeways, better winter maintenance, and completion of the citywide Grand Round in area neighborhoods are among priorities for the latest draft version of St. Paul’s Bicycle Plan. And for those who have waited for many years for a connection from Ayd Mill Road to the Minneapolis Greenway, that’s in the plan, too.
The draft plan, which was released in mid-April, is out for a final round of public input before it goes to the St. Paul City Council for approval this summer. An online presentation on the plan was hosted in April by the St. Paul Department of Public Works.
Jimmy Shoemaker, a senior planner in public works, is leading plan efforts. He calls the draft plan a “significant update” from the current 2015 bike plan. Since 2015, bike facilities have been added throughout the city, usually in conjunction with street construction or mill and overlay projects. New development projects, such as Highland Bridge on the former Ford Motor Company plant site, and parks projects also provide opportunities to implement bike facilities.
“We use the bike plan all of the time, as we think about investing in our streets,” said Shoemaker.
A big focus in the draft is on separated bikeways or bike paths. Separated bike paths are directly tied to demands for improved safety, which was raised in the first round of public engagement. Shoemaker said many more people would use city bike facilities if they had some kind of physical separation from motor vehicle traffic.
Separated bike paths given cyclists a comfortable space, said Shoemaker. “This was one of the top requests – the community wants them.”
Different measures can be used to separate cyclists and motor vehicles, including bollards, raised curbs, taller barriers or raising the bike lane above the street surface. Bike trails can also be built beside a street. While those kind of separation are preferred by cyclists, Shoemaker cautions they can take longer to get built. There are also potential tradeoffs, such as loss of on-street parking, boulevard space and trees.
Community member also want to see slower motor vehicle traffic speeds on streets where they bike. Other requests are for improved street maintenance and repair, winter bikeway maintenance, better bike network connections, and more bike parking facilities.
In the current phase of community engagement, Shoemaker said there are efforts to reach out to BIPOC communities, and to the West Side neighborhood and neighborhoods east of downtown.
Shoemaker said that every route identified in 2015 was re-evaluated as part of the current draft plan. Several streets previously identified as candidates for on-street bike lanes or shared facilities are now suggested for separated lanes. Area streets recommended for changes including Hamline and Cleveland avenues.
Hamline, Como and Marshall Avenue east of Snelling are among plan priorities.
Another topic that must be explored is how to plan bike facilities along busy routes such as University Avenue.
The rail corridor proposal could draw on past plans for the Canadian Pacific Railroad spur in the West End and Highland Park, and the CP Rail line leading from the north end of Ayd Mill Road through Midway to the old High Bridge railroad bridge over the Mississippi River.
The plan also calls for removing a few of the 2015 plan recommendations. Shoemaker said some routes are removed because other routes are nearby.
In other cases, property acquisition would be a long and complicated process. Fuller Avenue, which as once seen as a potential east-west bike route, was removed because of uncertainties about property acquisition. So was extending Pierce Butler Route to Pennsylvania Avenue. Longtime residents may remember when Pierce Butler Route was eyed for expansion to eventually connect to Phalen Boulevard.
The city’s first Bicycle Plan took shape between 2011-2014, and was adopted by the city council in 2015. The plan was updated in 2017 to add the Capital City Bikeway and update work on the Grand Round, which is a citywide network of bike and pedestrian facilities. Shoemaker said that since the plan was adopted eight years ago, more than 60 miles of bike facilities have been added.
Community engagement on plan updates began in 2021. Comments were incorporated into the new draft plan. The city received almost 1,700 survey responses during the first phase of engagement.
St. Paul has four types of bicycle facilities. Shared lanes are streets marked with “share the road” signs. A local example is Prior Avenue south of Marshall Avenue.
Bicycle boulevards are streets with low motorized traffic volumes and speeds, designated and designed to give bicycle travel priority. Charles Avenue and Griggs Street are area examples of bike boulevards.
Bike lanes are lanes striped on many streets include Cleveland and Summit avenues. St. Paul’s newest separated bikeways, with bikes placed along a street, are in the Capital City Bikeway.


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