One of the biggest challenges in our current transportation system is the way our streets are designed. In many parts of our communities, the only safe option for people to get around town is to drive a car, raising costs and limiting options for businesses, families, and the community as a whole.
Last year, St Paul sought to address this issue by creating and passing a long-term plan for expanding safe transportation options throughout the city. This bike plan established a comprehensive network of safe bike routes – making it easier for people to reduce congestion, wear and tear, and their associated costs on our streets.
Now, with a long-term plan in place, business leaders, city officials, and state lawmakers are standing up to support safer streets for St Paul.
Good for business
The benefit of safer streets isn’t lost on St Paul’s business community. Not only have infrastructure improvements in other communities driven significant job and business growth but they also provide more options for new workers who are considering a move to Minnesota. Ride along with Jonathan Weinhagen, the Vice President of the Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce, as he explains the need for safe connections into downtown to help workers from across the east metro get to major employers and other amenities like parks, restaurants, and events.
Good for families
For City Councilor Amy Brendmoen, safer streets are about creating a community that works for everyone, including people of all ages and abilities. Right now, even if riders can find a safe route in St Paul, it’s nearly always disconnected from their final destination. For young riders like Amy’s son Lars, that means only being able to bike in very specific areas of the city. With projects like Safe Routes to Schools receiving such broad support across the state, it makes sense for St Paul to lead on safer streets. Ride with Amy and Lars as they explore the options in their Como/Midway neighborhood.
Good for the community
The root of this issue is the fact that when people do choose to walk or bike throughout St Paul, it’s all too common for them to be struck by a car – leaving them seriously injured or even dead. And while drivers themselves absolutely need to be more diligent and focused on the road, we also need to design our roads in a way that encourages safer driving while expanding options for people outside of their car. State Senator Foung Hawj has seen the impact of this work directly on the East Side of St Paul. While many places still need plenty of improvement, more and more safe routes for walkers and bikers are turning his neighborhood into an up and coming place for new families and businesses to settle.
This post originally appeared on Fresh Energy’s website.
(Photo credit: Brendon Slotterback on the Indianapolis Cultural Trail)