A Valentine to the Saint Paul Bike Plan Draft

BikePerspective3-SM

Dear Saint Paul Bikeways Plan,

Can I call you BP? Great. I know I met you just a few short weeks ago, but I just had to write. I think it’s love at first sight. You had me at “well-connected network”.

The first thing I noticed about you was your optimism. It’s so easy to get down on life – the poor economy, stagnant job growth, a downtown that doesn’t live up to its full potential. But I just know that you’ll help revitalize our downtown.  Small local businesses will think you’re great, and you’ll totally flirt with educated millennials. They all seem to want to live and work in bike-friendly communities!

I get so excited when I think about sharing my favorite summer haunts with you – the farmer’s market, the Science Museum, the Central Library, summer concerts. Just imagine all the people thronging the streets. Every weekend could be like a festival! I adore the way you make our communities more livable.

I’m sure you’ve already met another love of mine, the Green Line. You get along so well with our other transportation networks, I just know we can’t go wrong! I can’t wait to ride my bike to the Green Line, get on the train, and spend a fabulous evening in Minneapolis, without ever worrying about parking.

You make my heart flutter when I think about how much you care about my heart and my health. You can help me slim down my waist and fatten up my wallet!

Your sense of equity and social justice inspires me. You must have heard that 28% of bike trips are taken by people in families making less than $30,000 annually. You cross social, racial, economic, and gender lines. You’re bold and daring in your service to our communities.

I love that you’re there for the people just out to have fun, as well as the people committed to commuting by bike every day. You encourage us to share our love of riding with our friends and families, and I know you’ll bring more people on bikes into our streets.

So, Happy Valentine’s Day, Saint Paul Bikeways Plan. I hope we have a long and wonderful future together!

Sincerely,

A Happy City Cyclist

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6 Responses to A Valentine to the Saint Paul Bike Plan Draft

  1. Andrea Steudel
    andrea February 14, 2014 at 4:06 pm #

    🙂 this is fun

  2. minneapolisite February 19, 2014 at 8:43 pm #

    The problem, especially for female riders, is that so, so much of the connectivity is not there. At all. See the blue lines all over the bikeways plan map? Those are where only sharrows and or signs will constitute a “bikeway”. In other words, the same high-speed 35 MPH roads, but with a few sharrows and there are a whole lot of them that no one but existing vehicular cyclists are willing to ride on.That’s not a bikeway, that’s a joke. A nice calm ride down the Mississippi trail onto Ford to ride to the Highland Theater or any number of destinations at the intersection on Cleveland requires a harrowing ride up a long hill in the right hand lane where you have to take the lane at times due to parked cars with high speed traffic quickly approaching from behind and they’ll still be forced to pass in the other lane because you’re in the “bikeway” once sharrows are painted. I’ve ridden a bit of that stretch in such a fashion w/o sharrows and got winded and pulled over to walk the remaining blocks because going close to walking speed for a healthy, athletic male in his early thirties in traffic at or exceeding the 35MPH speed limit is not comfortable. Not surprisingly, I don’t recall ever seeing a female cyclist try the same. Sharrows will do nothing to change that and coming from a city that went the sharrow route on much less scary roads there will be just as few female riders (virtually none) and a negligible increase in male riders. I was more comfortable riding east on 29th NE past over to where it turns into County Rd C with 50 MPH passing me in the left lane because at least it was a bit downhill so that the difference in speeds was much smaller (around 20 MPH or so) than what I experienced on Ford. Oh, and for the privilege to ride on such shoddy “infrastructure” you might only have to wait 20-30 years.

    • Matty Lang
      Matty Lang February 20, 2014 at 11:15 am #

      This is valid criticism.

    • Bill Lindeke
      Bill Lindeke February 20, 2014 at 9:28 pm #

      Yeah I agree. I feel the same way a lot of the time. That said, this is a big step forward and we should support it and push for more and better (esp in those high-volume blue zones). OTOH there are lots of streets with very low traffic where a sharrow might not be so bad…

  3. minneapolisite February 21, 2014 at 8:43 pm #

    I agree that the rest, the bike boulevards, trails, and lanes (if they’re not in the door zone) are great, but when you take out those blue lines the accessibility is severely reduced. As for streets with low traffic to utilize sharrows Bill’s right and I don’t know why I didn’t think about this: just do one of the real bikeway treatments parallel to the planned sharrowed streets where possible: won’t work Downtown, for example. Now my previous example of Ford Pkwy is a great one: would you ride on it in traffic with sharrows,

    http://goo.gl/maps/07S80

    or would you rather ride a couple short blocks north and share the road on Highland Pkway which also parallels Ford all the way to Snelling?

    http://goo.gl/maps/A1AYh

    It’s really a no-brainer since just by looks alone Highland is much a more calmer environment for cyclists w/o as is without a single penny yet spent to sign/sharrow it for cyclists. You can see that for much of it that you can bike on the parking side to let much lower levels of slower motorized traffic to pass by without issue. In fact, looking at the map see Highland is poised to get this treatment too, so why keep the sharrowed stretch of Ford also which cyclists are going to bypass for Highland anyway?

    Again, if they’re going to put sharrows on lanes where there’s no room to share I really would like to see St Paul officially adopt super-sharrows as the standard in that context since they communicate to drivers and cyclists much more clearly than regular interpret-how-you-want sharrows where bikes should be positioned in the lane. Isn’t minimizing ambiguity kind of the whole point of such road infrastructure?

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  1. St Paul Bicycle Plan: Good Enough? | streets.mn - February 25, 2014

    […] of these minds is excited about it and can’t wait to see it implemented. The other, contrary to Rebecca Airmet’s Valentine, is disappointed that it falls so far short of what I’d hoped for. Note that my wife gives me a […]

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