I wanted to piggy-back off of Bill’s great piece on Lowertown’s perceived parking problem, where he notes that people walked nearly a mile from their parking spot on Energy Park Drive to Midway Stadium and were completely okay with that but parking a couple blocks away from CHS Field and walking through a vibrant downtown is somehow asking too much.
Saint Paul recently unanimously adopted the Saint Paul Bike Plan and has begun the process of implementation. Being a fairly dense city, Saint Paul has limited right-of-way within which to work so some tough decisions lay ahead for the city. However, I’d argue that after five plus years of planning, discussion, public meetings, and vigorous debate, Saint Paul’s Bike Plan is well vetted and now just needs the political will to put rubber to pavement. The roll-out will be slow as the city plans to keep costs low by adding bicycling infrastructure only during road projects. Ramsey County is currently doing several mill & overlay projects across the city that will hopefully include bike lanes with the finishing re-striping. The most contentious of these projects is Cleveland Ave in Mac-Groveland because of parking removal from Randolph Ave to Grand Ave.
I recently spent quite a bit of time brain storming some solutions to help ease concerns of property owners, especially at the corner of Cleveland Ave and Randolph where four spaces are slated to be removed. Saint Paul Bicycle Coalition and Saint Paul Women on Bikes first sent these suggestions to the property owner as a gesture of good faith and open dialog before passing along to Saint Paul City Council Members, Ramsey County Commissioners, and both Saint Paul & Ramsey County Public Works staff. All the parking suggestions we presented kept readily available spaces within 100 ft of the building’s entrance.
One of the main reasons I fell in love with Saint Paul is the many small commercial nodes. While built because of the long-gone street car system, they have survived by serving their neighborhoods. People patronize these nodes because they are easily accessible to neighbors. If this is the case, then why must all local neighborhood-serving businesses require front door parking? Why is it so apocalyptic to walk around a corner and past a couple of homes in our beautiful neighborhood? I believe the very essence of Saint Paul and its charm is being lost in the eternal search for the perfect parking space.
As an example of scale, I’ve placed a 100′ distance measure showing how far people actually walk across a barren big box parking lots. How is this acceptable to traverse, but not the lilies my neighbor planted?