St Paul Bicycle Plan: Completing The Local Mile

In St Paul Bicycle Plan: Good Enough? I discussed five things that I believe, along with the Bicycle Plan, can get St Paul close to the ‘World Class Bicycling City’ that they say that they want to become and that many of us think that St Paul can become and will greatly benefit from becoming.

Here is the final piece that I think can pop St Paul on to the world class list.

So far, with the plan and five suggestions, we have a relatively good network of bicycle facilities that will give most people something safe within about a half mile of each end of their trips—usually home and some destination. Hopefully we’ve also made major destinations such as schools and retail safer and more accessible.

Now, we need to do something about the local miles—those on each end of our trips and more importantly, that will be the entirety of most trips—to school, the grocery, hardware store, or cafe.

Building safe bicycle facilities on all of these streets would be difficult and expensive. And unnecessary. The vast majority of these are residential and residential streets should be safe for bicycling without any special facilities because they should also be safe for walking, playing, and having a chat with friends.

The problem with these streets, similar to the problem with downtown St Paul discussed in St Paul: Ripe for Ruin, is through traffic—people who are not going anywhere local, just quickly passing through on their way elsewhere. These are residential streets for people to live on, not through-ways. For cars and trucks they should be for very local access only.

Traffic calming measures help, but only a little. Calmed streets will often still have considerable through traffic and much of it still going quite fast between calming measures. These drivers don’t live nearby, this isn’t their neighborhood, and they don’t really care about the neighborhood they’re driving through. They just want to get where they’re going. Many are also using these streets as rat runs—a shortcut of sorts to avoid having to drive on more congested major streets intended for through traffic.

The good news is that this may be a fairly easily solved problem by doing much the same thing as in downtown. Instead of creating larger people friendly districts though, we’re going to create our own version of pocket neighborhoods.

Interrupting The Grid

The New Urban school of planning stresses the grid street layout because it spreads cars out throughout the grid. The problem, is that it spreads cars out throughout the grid.

And this isn’t good for people in local neighborhoods. Let’s interrupt the grid and see what happens.

For example, the Summit Hill neighborhood south of Grand and east of Lexington. Let’s make Milton, Grotto, and Fairmont uncrossable by motor vehicles, perhaps with bollards along them (and maybe a fountain in the middle where they intersect).

Taking the concept of calming one step further and calming a neighborhood instead of one single intersection. (Click for a larger image)

Taking the concept of calming one step further and calming a neighborhood instead of one single intersection. (Click for a larger image)

Now, if someone at a house on Goodrich between Grotto and St Albans wants to go somewhere north on Lexington, instead of driving all the way down Goodrich, they’ll go up to Summit.

Red line is a typical route, Blue line is a better route with less impact on the neighborhood.

Red line is a typical route, Blue line is a better route with less impact on the neighborhood.

Yes, we’ve added a car to Summit. More importantly though, we’ve removed a car from a residential neighborhood street.

Along with this, let’s make the speed limit on all of these streets 18 mph[1]. We’re going to cost some people an extra 9 seconds getting home, which will cause some traffic engineer to have heart problems, but we’ll have successfully produced some real live residential streets.

Let’s also add some bulb outs or tighter radius corners along the perimeter where people enter the neighborhood from Lexington, St Clair, and Grand to force people to slow as they enter the neighborhood.

Unlike typical calming, we’ve calmed an entire neighborhood and removed some traffic, including the worst traffic, yet it all remains permeable for people walking or riding bicycles.

This neighborhood has suddenly become bikeable and walkable and livable. Hopefully, no more cars driving through at high speed. Streets are quiet and safe enough for kids to play and for everyone to walk or ride around.

We’ve created streets that are sort of a Woonerfs—Dutch streets that are intended to be equally safe and useable for all users and of which a very key element is limiting motor traffic to local access only.

As with anything there’s a drawback. Some residents will have to drive a bit further around the neighborhood instead of through it (but that’s the idea, remember). My guess is that most, while perhaps not overly happy at first, will decide that the benefits of quieter, safer, and more comfortable streets are well worth it.

Now, imagine doing this in neighborhoods across the city.

The Benefits Of Compounding Benefits

Now that we have a more bikeable and walkable city, what’s next?

Across the U.S., cyclists think that they need all kinds of gook to help protect them from cars, even when they’re riding on roads with the protection of painted lines and sharrows. With good infrastructure, people in St Paul wont’ feel like they need any special hi-viz jersey’s, multiple flashing lights, warning flags sticking out, amour, air horns, or cameras to catch the scowflouws that buzz them.

Across the U.S., cyclists think that they need all kinds of gook to help protect them from cars, even when they’re riding on roads with the protection of painted lines and sharrows. With good infrastructure, people in St Paul wont’ feel like they need any special hi-viz jersey’s, multiple flashing lights, warning flags sticking out, amour, air horns, or cameras to catch the scowflouws that buzz them.

If we do this right, people will feel safe and be safe riding bicycles all around St Paul. People of all ages will be comfortable riding to local stores, work, and many other places within a reasonable distance.

Parents will feel safe letting their children ride to school, stores, or the local rec center. Better, only part of this safer feeling, compliments of a safer reality, will be from less fear of their child being killed by someone driving a car. They will know that their children are also safer because there are many more people out walking and riding bicycles who will be keeping an eye on them (thank you Jane Jacobs).

One problem that many residents have said makes their streets less habitable is an overabundance of parked cars. Perhaps if we make St Paul friendly enough for bicycling then more people may choose to not have a car or to be a car-lite family and only have one instead of two.

And that car we added to Summit earlier? Making our streets safer and more inviting for bicycling will result in fewer cars overall, including on roads like Summit or Grand Avenue.

Update to St Paul: Ripe For Ruin

Mark recently wrote a piece on his excellent blog As Easy As Riding A Bike mentioning improvements to Horsham, a town south of London. About 20 years ago, Horsham sort of did what I proposed for downtown St Paul. They created a ring road, Albion Way, around their downtown and made it so that drivers would drive around the ring road instead of through the middle of town.

It created great gnashing of teeth at first, but the result has been a friendlier and more inviting area and is now quite popular. Interestingly, the amount of traffic on the ring road has begun to decrease to the point where they’re considering reducing it from 4 lanes to 2.

Horsham is a bit smaller than downtown St Paul, but the same principles apply.

A Step Further

Back to our pocket neighborhood. Now that we’ve come this far, let’s take our plan above a step further and extend the bollards on Milton and Grotto up across Grand Avenue to Summit.

A shopping friendlier Grand Ave.

A shopping friendlier Grand Ave.

Instead of clogging up Grand where a lot of people would like to enjoy walking, shopping, and eating, cars will now either stay parked in one spot or go along Summit.

Maybe we should also add some much needed NiceRide stands along Grand.

Now, go out and enjoy the great weather that’s finally arrived.


[1] The lower speed limit is only mildly necessary as many people will drive fairly slow anyway given the short distance. This will be for those who just don’t get it.

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48 Responses to St Paul Bicycle Plan: Completing The Local Mile

  1. Jeff Klein April 8, 2014 at 9:37 am #

    I want to suggest one more feature that I think isn’t getting enough attention: tiny residential round-abouts. There’s only a couple I’m aware of, on 5th St. NE. Consider why Bryant Ave. as a bike boulevard is pretty useless: you have to stop almost every single block. You can’t actually get anywhere in reasonable time. With the round-abouts, you can keep moving.

    • Matty Lang
      Matty Lang April 8, 2014 at 10:13 am #

      These are called neighborhood traffic circles. Saint Paul is incorporating them on their bike boulevards (Charles Ave. and Griggs St.). There’s already a few existing in Saint Paul and Seattle, for example, has many. I love them.

      • Walker Angell
        Walker Angell April 8, 2014 at 10:39 am #

        Matty, do these operate by roundabout rules (yield to the left, traffic in roundabout always has ROW) or traffic circle rules (varies based on whims of design engineer)?

        • Matty Lang
          Matty Lang April 8, 2014 at 10:50 am #

          I would say since they’re only at residential street intersections which all have pretty close to the same dimensions they are all designed pretty much the same–to function like roundabouts with yielding to the left. They all have signs posted that direct traffic to the right and show an arrow going around the circle to make a left turn. Here’s a typical one at Charles and Albert: https://goo.gl/maps/lnbJi

          There’s one exception that I know of at Laurel and St. Alban’s where there’s a much larger circle with a park space in the middle. This one tends to see higher auto speeds, of course: https://goo.gl/maps/2b6uw

          • Walker Angell
            Walker Angell April 8, 2014 at 11:36 am #

            Roundabouts kind of generally say higher speed to me. At least higher than I think we should have in most residential neighborhoods. Part of me thinks that if we think we need roundabouts that we haven’t done something else right, like reduce and slow traffic enough.

            ??

            • Matty Lang
              Matty Lang April 8, 2014 at 12:14 pm #

              Right, I agree. North of University Avenue there’s only a few roads that allow auto traffic to cross the BNSF tracks–Raymond Ave, Snelling Ave, Lexington, Dale, and Rice St. These streets see most of the car and truck traffic because of the railroad barrier. In addition, on Snellling and Lexington there are many medians that force auto traffic off of the residential streets and onto these arterials so the railroad and the medians kind of act like the bollards in your plan.

              The problem with Charles Avenue is that it used to allow cars and trucks to pass through all the way–no medians at Charles. That’s where the extra stop signs and mini roundabout came from. There’s now a median on Charles at Snelling that blocks cars, but allows bikes and pedestrians to go through. This season medians will also be built at Lex and Dale. There will be several mini roundabouts constructed between these major arterials and their medians to further dissuade non-local auto traffic and rat runs.

              I think this was the best that we could get for Charles at this time given the general traffic engineer response to designing for speeds of 15-18mph. More could, and should, be done to decrease design speed so cars don’t have a perceived need to pass people on bikes at all on residential streets. Curb extensions at intersections, and chicanes mid block are some examples to get to more of a shared street or woonerf feel.

              I like your ideas of experimenting with the grid in Saint Paul, especially because there are already so many barriers that mess up the grid here so we’re already living with some really bad streets carrying a disproportionate share of auto traffic like Snelling and Lexington. I’d ultimately like to see more connections over the BNSF tacks built because it’s not easy nor pleasant to cross Snelling and Lexington even with medians and we need more connections for people biking and walking north and south.

              • Eric Saathoff
                Eric S April 8, 2014 at 5:38 pm #

                I don’t get it. Wouldn’t Walker’s plan make the disproportional share of traffic even worse on these streets?

                • Walker Angell
                  Walker Angell April 8, 2014 at 5:53 pm #

                  You’re speaking of the arterials like Summit?

                  Initially, yes. Long-term, if we are successful in getting people to switch from cars to more bike/ped/transit then the end result should be less traffic on all surface roads/streets.

              • Walker Angell
                Walker Angell April 8, 2014 at 6:09 pm #

                Matty, how is the traffic in these neighborhoods? I’d think it would still be a fair bit of relatively fast traffic because it looks (online) like these streets would still be convenient short-cuts for through traffic.

              • Walker Angell
                Walker Angell April 10, 2014 at 10:07 am #

                Matty, one problem I noticed this morning is a bit of fairly fast through traffic in some of these neighborhoods to access Pierce Butler since it can’t be accessed directly from Lexington.

                • Matty Lang
                  Matty Lang April 10, 2014 at 5:24 pm #

                  Yes, there is a decent amount of fast traffic on the neighborhood streets in these neighborhoods. When Charles was being studied, the consultant team found the auto speeds to be mostly between 25-35mph with the occasional car gong above 35. There was a lot of speeding between stop signs.

                  There is a good amount of cut through traffic.

        • Matty Lang
          Matty Lang April 8, 2014 at 10:59 am #

          I did just notice that there are still stop signs for Charles Ave at this intersection even though they aren’t needed. I’m not sure if they’re getting removed or not as the bike boulevard project is constructed this season. I sure hope they are.

    • Walker Angell
      Walker Angell April 8, 2014 at 10:36 am #

      They’re kind of interesting in this context. These neighborhoods should be low enough traffic and low enough speeds that none of the intersections should need stop signs. You should be able to ride from one end to the other without stopping.

      Sticking a dot in the middle of each and having them operate as mini-roundabouts (what they’re called everywhere outside of the U.S.) might not be a bad idea though. Roundabouts certainly simplify the ROW confusion we see so often at intersections.

  2. Mike Sonn
    Mikesonn April 8, 2014 at 1:01 pm #

    “Maybe we should also add some much needed NiceRide stands along Grand.”

    Instead they are dropping stations off of Grand.

    • Walker Angell
      Walker Angell April 9, 2014 at 9:39 am #

      Were there ever any on Grand? There have been some nearby but I wasn’t aware of any actually on Grand.

      • Mike Sonn
        mikesonn April 13, 2014 at 12:14 pm #

        Yes. One was at Grand/Lexington – no longer. There are others that will stay, Kowalski’s & Whole Foods both have them for example.

  3. Sean Hayford Oleary
    Sean Hayford Oleary April 8, 2014 at 1:16 pm #

    I have to say, I really disagree with your suggestions to force traffic to funnel onto main streets, Walker. One doesn’t have to go far to see what it would be like to not have through access on minor streets: go to any modern suburb. The tradeoff for cutting off the local grid is not simply that cars sometimes have to go longer distances — it’s that main streets become catastrophic car sewers, inhospitable for anyone not in a car.

    I absolutely agree that minor streets should be designed for low speeds (much lower than 30 mph), but I do not agree with removing connectivity. The grid does an excellent job preventing any one street from becoming a car sewer. And that’s something to treasure, not impede.

    I also disagree that main streets are not part of “the neighborhood”. Our main streets should be neighborhood centers, not ugly strips of asphalt where we can dump unwanted traffic.

    • Jeff Klein April 8, 2014 at 1:36 pm #

      Yeah I guess I’d love to see traffic slowed and calmed to the point that biking on the streets is comfortable for most people in as many places as possible, so I agree with Walker on that. Exactly the tradeoffs that need to be made to make this a reality are not as clear to me, but I’d certainly share your concern.

    • Mike Sonn
      Mikesonn April 8, 2014 at 1:51 pm #

      Yes and no on the comparision to suburbs. The problem with cul-de-sacs is that they prevent all travel, including ped/bike. Putting up some ballards only stops car traffic in this case which may make walking/biking more competative time-wise which could bring about some mode switching. But I also agree that we can’t have traffic sewers (which Grand pretty much is now).

    • Ron April 8, 2014 at 2:11 pm #

      I’ve seen a lot of these in Vancouver and in my opinion it’s bloody awesome.

      • Walker Angell
        Walker Angell April 8, 2014 at 5:44 pm #

        Ron, any examples?

        • Ron April 10, 2014 at 5:46 pm #

          Ontario street parallel to Main St. is a bike route with traffic circles that the neighbors garden. Kitsilano neighborhood just has bike blvds. I know there are a few spots that have pinched in the curbs so that only bikes can get through but I couldn’t recall where they are. Those are the best.

          • Walker Angell
            Walker Angell April 10, 2014 at 5:50 pm #

            Great. Thanks. I’ll check those out.

    • Walker Angell
      Walker Angell April 8, 2014 at 5:43 pm #

      You’ve a choice, get a lot of people to switch from cars to bikes/ped/transit or car sewers and the rest of the grid become even worse.

      How many people will you be able to get to switch without making the switch appealing?

      The grid may do a good job of preventing one street from becoming a car sewer, though I’m not so sure about that, but the grid also makes many streets become more stroadlike and makes residential streets unappealing for walking and bicycling for most people.

    • Eric Saathoff
      Eric S April 8, 2014 at 5:50 pm #

      I agree with Sean’s comment above. My in-laws live on Xerxes in southwest Minneapolis. Many of the neighborhood streets around there are cut off from car traffic and open to pedestrians and bicyclists. Hoorah! Except, living on Xerxes is just awful. This is not a four lane street, but the cars are traveling so often and so fast that it is hard to get out of their driveway (no stops between 49th and 43rd, I think).

      Where we live on the East Side of St. Paul there is not a lot of traffic on the neighborhood streets, but Maryland Avenue is like a Stroad, and it is because there aren’t any other through streets going east and west. The natural boundaries that Matty mentioned make this concentration of traffic a current reality, and the bike plan tries to skirt around these arterials rather than make them part of the neighborhood again – it is really not the bike plan’s fight, perhaps. This car-centric road is a dividing line between my neighborhood and the neighborhood to the south. Arcade does the same thing to the west. These are very unpleasant areas and difficult to cross.

      If we think about University and Charles – this is exactly what you’re proposing. We are directing more cars to University to make Charles (and surrounding neighborhoods) more walkable and bikable. This may keep University from going to two lanes with parking or biking, ensuring an inhospital street for anyone who’s not in a car.

      I think what we really want is greater density, more local business, more walkability, and less reasons to drive through so many parts of town to get what we need. If we build roadblocks will they build more grocery stores? I don’t think that’s going to work.

  4. Matt Steele
    Matt Steele April 8, 2014 at 2:03 pm #

    I’m somewhere in the middle, as Sean knows from our Richfield discussions. I definitely DO want a redundant, flexible grid that is MUCH healthier and more dynamic than the local/collector/arterial suburban hierarchical road network. But I also think there’s a place for occasional grid interruption for vehicles (not for bike/walk). For example, a refuge median on a “primary street” in Mpls or St. Paul (I hate to call them collectors) may block through-traffic while simultaneously making crossing easier on foot or bike. And car users can handle this disruption much easier… they can just go one block beyond and double back. But in general I think we need to be very careful that we maintain a grid that (mostly) accommodates (slow) car traffic because the alternative, the suburban hierarchical model, is a failure.

    • Sean Hayford Oleary
      Sean Hayford Oleary April 8, 2014 at 2:07 pm #

      On the Richfield roadway functional classification map, our busiest streets are pleasantly termed “minor relievers”, as if main streets that have been in place for over a hundred years exist solely as accessories to the freeway system.

    • Walker Angell
      Walker Angell April 8, 2014 at 5:36 pm #

      If the goal is to get more people walking and bicycling (and using transit) then we need to make those modes safe and comfortable enough that people will use them. I don’t think that will happen without some significant reduction in both speed and volume on local streets because people will not choose to walk or ride on them otherwise.

      If that is our goal and we are somewhat successful then the arterials like Summit should not have any more traffic because traffic overall is reduced and local traffic from home to the grocery, school, or cafe is very significantly reduced.

      This is not comparable to a suburban model because this has a goal of significantly reducing motor traffic, suburbs increase motor traffic.

      • Jeff Klein April 8, 2014 at 6:15 pm #

        I’m starting to wonder where this “safe and comfortable enough” bar is. If people aren’t comfortable biking on the average Minneapolis/St. Paul residential street I don’t know that there’s much that can be done for them. I’ll grant that biking down Washington Ave. isn’t for everyone, and I also agree with the goal of traffic calming in general, but I’m not sure I’m willing to sacrifice our main streets because people can’t handle one car every few minutes at 25 mph.

        • Sean Hayford Oleary
          Sean Hayford Oleary April 8, 2014 at 6:20 pm #

          Actually, I might disagree with you there. There are people for whom city traffic (even insignificant, slow traffic) just feels a lot more intimidating. My dad is an experienced road cyclist, and feels perfectly comfortable on 55 mph rural highways with no shoulders. Yet I brought him on Bryant Ave, and he refused to even ride in line with the sharrows. The parked cars made him nervous, the sense of “impeding” cars made him nervous. (Even though, as I eagerly pointed out, the road was designed for biking there, and cars had the choice of using more car-oriented Lyndale just two blocks away.)

          For these types of cyclists, I think really compelling segregated infrastructure along major streets might be the answer.

          • Eric Saathoff
            Eric S April 8, 2014 at 6:30 pm #

            This is interesting. Brainerd Ave is part of my commute in St. Paul. I suggested that this be added to the bike plan to Reuben, but it wasn’t at all because I felt unsafe in its current incarnation. It has few cars, parked or moving, when I take it in the morning or afternoon. Most of the streets I ride in St. Paul are like this on my commute (Geranium, Hyacinth, Ivy, even Western).

            I suggested it because it is what takes me to the Maryland bridge, and my hope is that there will be safe access to this Stroad (the only way to get across I-35E for quite a stretch).
            I would feel safe riding bikes with my 4 year old on Brainerd, Ivy, Hyacinth, or Geranium – not necessarily on Bryant, certainly not on Maryland or Xerxes.

            Again, the concentration of traffic on one street, and particularly one access point between parts of the city, can prove to be a major barrier to getting around.

          • Walker Angell
            Walker Angell April 9, 2014 at 8:06 am #

            I think I can understand where your dad is coming from. I would guess that his experience on the rural road is that all of the cars passing him will move over when they do so and he also feels like he has a gob of run-off space to his right (even though you don’t have time to do much in the unlikely event someone does hit you from behind). In the city the cars are passing much closer and there’s no run-off area. Were the sharrows also in the door zone? Some of this gets to the difference in perceived safety and actual safety, though both are critical.

            Great photo. Where is that? But yes, most people do not and will never feel comfortable mixing with motor vehicles that are traveling beyond certain speeds (the fall-off starts at about 9 mph and does a nose-dive at 18 mph). Volume also plays a part.

            • Sean Hayford Oleary
              Sean Hayford Oleary April 9, 2014 at 8:57 am #

              The sharrows are borderline door zone — but I actually mean that he was riding farther right, farther into the door zone than the sharrows. Like many people who don’t ride much in the city, moving cars feel a lot more threatening than car doors.

              The bikeway I linked to was from Straße des 17. Juni in Tiergarten in Berlin.

              Also, I assume you know, but the MnMUTCD (and the federal MUTCD on which it is based) require speed limits to be in multiples of five miles. However, local governments have the theoretical option to post signs in kilometers per hour (in multiples of 10), so you could not ever have an 18 mph sign, but you could have a 30 kph sign.

              • Walker Angell
                Walker Angell April 9, 2014 at 9:35 am #

                Thanks, I wasn’t aware of the 5 mph increment. I’ve seen posted limits not a multiple but these may have been in private developments. It makes sense given analog speedometers marked in multiples of 5 (mph & kph). The difference in 15 and 20 is considerable but maybe 15 would be a better limit in neighborhoods. Of course both of these may run in to the 30 mph minimum (that I still marvel exists).

        • Walker Angell
          Walker Angell April 9, 2014 at 7:57 am #

          Jeff, from a Dutch perspective they’ve found that nearly all people will share a road with motor vehicles traveling 9 mph which is sort of the speed limit in woonerfs (it’s labeled ‘walking pace’ but that’s generally interpreted as 9 mph).

          Residential streets generally have a speed limit of 30 kph (18.6 mph) which they seem to have found to be the upper limit. Beyond that people really don’t like to ride on the road with motor vehicles and cities with any higher residential speeds do not see very high rates of bicycling. However, many residential areas, even with lower speed limits, will still have separate paths. From the few I’ve seen, these operate as MUPs for slower bicycles and pedestrians.

          Beyond 18 mph a segregated facility is needed to keep high numbers riding bicycles. This generally starts with a painted bike lane, then a cycle track (usually curb separated), then a distance separated path with the distance increasing with speed (and somewhat with volume).

      • Anne White
        Anne White April 14, 2014 at 10:44 am #

        With a new Whole Foods and 208 market-rate apartments going in on the northeast corner of Snelling and Selby, the Union Park District Council has set up a task force to try to figure out what we can do to improve pedestrian safety and bicycle access, and to reduce traffic congestion without unduly increasing cut-through traffic on nearby residential streets. I’ve been interested in a number of ideas on posted or linked to on the Streets.MN and Transportationist sites, and would like to ask for some ideas to help with the Snelling-Selby situation.

        Basically, the problem is that this intersection is a burgeoning commercial center, surrounded by tree-lined residential streets lined with mostly single family houses. However, the intersection also serves as a primary route for a large amount of traffic going through to other destinations, especially north-south on Snelling (including truck traffic which is prohibited on I-35 and Ayd Mill Road), and as a connector for Ayd Mill Road and I-94 west (and/or the Midway Shopping Center). The new proposed bicycle plan shows major east-west bike routes on Marshall and Summit, with minor bike routes (sharrows?) on Saratoga and Aldine; but there’s no indication of how those bike-riders would get to the Snelling-Selby intersection where there will be excellent bike facilities including a Nice Ride, covered bike parking at Whole Foods, and storage for one bike per apartment included in the rent. And the railroad cuts diagonally across the neighborhood, cutting off north-south access for Saratoga and Pascal.

        I’d like to hear some ideas from people who post on this site about what we might do to improve the situation at the Snelling-Selby intersection and in the surrounding neighborhood. The Snelling-Selby Task Force will be meeting tomorrow evening, Tues, April 15th, to continue work on the issues. If anyone on this list is interested, they would be welcome to attend. The meeting is 6:30-8:30 pm in the Associated Bank conference room. Park in the parking lot to the east of the bank and enter through the east doors to the parking lot. For more info contact me at awhitepho@gmail.com.

  5. Matty Lang
    Matty Lang April 8, 2014 at 2:09 pm #

    I generally would prefer a well connected grid as well, but in Saint Paul we already have the traffic sewer streets because of a disconnected grid as I described in my tl;dr comment upstream. I don’t think either reconnecting the grid in Saint Paul or Walker’s proposal are likely to happen anytime soon, but I’m personally interested in exploring either.

  6. Al Davison
    Al Davison April 9, 2014 at 2:03 am #

    One little issue I have about the speed limits, it would probably be best to round multiples of 5 (such as 20 mph instead of 18 mph) but that’s just me nitpicking, otherwise great post.

    Even here in my suburban neighborhood, people go way too fast and I wish there was some traffic calming because it gets annoying seeing people blaze on by even faster than 30 mph or blowing through stop signs. It honestly makes me tempted to place my own speed bumps on the road (though of course thats illegal).

    • Walker Angell
      Walker Angell April 9, 2014 at 7:34 am #

      A couple of years ago a bunch of neighbors here actually did a name and shame routine on one family. Interestingly, the dad wasn’t a problem but the mom and their kids all consistently drove way too fast. A few side comments by neighbors didn’t do the trick so several went and knocked on their door. It took several years to get to that point though.

      I borrowed a radar gun a couple of years ago and was surprised how many people drove through at 35 to 40 and even 45 (these latter were nearly all contractors working on neighborhood houses.)

      • Al Davison
        Al Davison April 9, 2014 at 12:30 pm #

        Yeah sadly they get that fast on my street as well, sometimes it’s even difficult to get out of my driveway because I have to double-check my sides to make sure I don’t back into someone flooring it at 40 mph. Everyone gets in such a rush whenever they operate a car it seems. It makes walking a pain especially when crossing the 4-lane road a block from my house during busy periods since the sidewalk is on the opposite side of where I live.

  7. Janne Flisrand
    Janne April 9, 2014 at 9:02 am #

    I’m confused. I read Walker’s proposal as not blocking all car traffic from these streets, but as creating diversions in a few select spaces.

    Thinking about Bryant, if there were just one point between Franklin and Lake where cars couldn’t go through, many fewer would use it as an alternative to Lyndale. That doesn’t eliminate the redundant and flexible street grid, and (especially if combined with more bump-outs and sharper corners) would slow the traffic plenty to make it a street friendly to people riding and walking.

    • Walker Angell
      Walker Angell April 10, 2014 at 7:36 am #

      Car traffic would not necessarily be blocked from these streets, just blocked from crossing (or perhaps crossing the center line). I kind of left how its accomplished a bit open. So, in my example blue line, you can drive north up Grotto (or south down Grotto) but you’d not be able to cross it in a motor vehicle. Leaving our house on Goodrich heading west, you could turn north, but not south. So yes, essentially diversions all along these three streets.

      You could though make Grotto or Milton (or most any of the N/S streets) bike/ped only or bike/ped mostly. I don’t think there are any houses that front these so the only access you need is maybe for the alleys. You could dead-end the alleys at Grotto and Milton (could cause two-way backups in some alleys though) or perhaps you don’t allow cars to enter Grotto and Milton at all from the streets, but people in the alleys could turn on to them. If no street traffic can enter them at all then maybe there are no bollards along the centerline and cars entering from the alley can turn north or south.

      • brad April 10, 2014 at 12:15 pm #

        This is what Minneapolis has done on some bike boulevards, for example at Chicago Ave & 40th St, and 42nd St & 17th Ave. The effect is it’s easier for pedestrians and bikers to cross (they have a median to go halfway at least), and the narrower road slows down cars.

    • Walker Angell
      Walker Angell April 10, 2014 at 7:41 am #

      For Bryant. No crossing 25th anywhere between Hennepin & Lyndale? And/or 29th?

  8. jacobus April 12, 2014 at 8:37 am #

    Noteworthy:

    http://nextstl.com/2014/03/street-thru-cul-de-sacking-st-louis/

    Looks like messing with the street grid for cars has absolutely not worked in St. Louis.

    • Walker Angell
      Walker Angell April 17, 2014 at 7:03 am #

      What St Louis have done is considerably different. Firstly, they’ve closed off several fairly major through streets vs closing off neighborhood streets that are not needed as through routes. Secondly, their closures are individual streets scattered here and there which is much more confusing and less effective than above. Thirdly, they’ve not combined this with any support for walking and bicycling (and transit) as an alternative to driving.

      Also, the article you pointed to is quite one-sided. Many people throughout St Louis are huge supporters of the closures as they have in many cases reduced through traffic through some neighborhoods and made the neighborhoods safer and and more enjoyable to live in.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Sunday Summary | streets.mn - April 13, 2014

    […] Bicycles: St Paul Bicycle Plan: Completing The Local Mile follows up on St Paul Bicycle Plan: Good enough? by proposing strategic street grid interruptions to calm traffic across a neighborhood.  This is the comment winner of the week with input about design details as well as questioning the strategy.  More bicycling in Top Three Problems with MPR’s @MNToday Tweet, and the Big Thing They Did Right […]

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