Building a Better Frost Avenue

While I was reading through September’s issue of “Maplewood Living”, a monthly municipal newsletter, something stuck out in the proposed 2019-2023 Capital Improvement Plan being considered by Maplewood’s City Council.

Next year, in 2019, Maplewood will be implementing the “Gladstone Area Phase 3 Improvements”, including reconstructing Frost Ave from English St to White Bear Ave. Some other improvements that will be made include “expansion of storm-water facilities, utility main repairs, water quality improvements, and pedestrian facilities”.

There is no mention of bike infrastructure, and I would hope “pedestrian facilities” isn’t a sidewalk or Multi-Use Path (MUP) along only one side of Frost. Frost Ave in an important street in Maplewood, connecting the Frost-English (Gladstone) area to the institutional and commercial areas on White Bear Ave.

Building A Better Frost Ave

Today, there are two wide travel lanes and two parking lanes on either side that sit empty most of the time. People regularly feel comfortable speeding downhill from White Bear Ave (and uphill to WBA) like it’s a freeway. We need to calm traffic along Frost Ave.

Frost Ave Parking

Picture taken at 7pm on a Wednesday night. There are 3 cars visible. One is my partner’s car that I used to get here. One car is parked at a house with a fully empty driveway that can hold 4 cars (ignoring their garage). And the third car is so far down the road that it’s hard to see. It’s like this every day.

Nearly every home in Maplewood has both a driveway and garage to park in, and many of the homes along Frost front the side streets instead of Frost Ave itself. Those side streets also provide a lot of on-street parking. With such a huge surplus of parking everywhere, we should re-purpose some of that wasted space for alternative modes of transportation.

As a major road, Frost Ave should have sidewalks on both sides and a safe bike facility along its length. Safe means buffered from traffic and separate from pedestrians. Frost only sees between 4k-6k vehicles per day, which isn’t enough to justify a left turn lane or additional travel lanes.

Frost Ave Compromise

A compromise vision, where one parking lane (that is rarely used) is kept, and bikes are protected by paint and some bollards.

Within the existing footprint of the street, we can provide a comfortable buffered bike path while keeping two travel lanes and one of the two unused parking lanes. While one lane can be kept, we should ideally get rid of both. Building a parking lane that is rarely used, and has tons of alternative locations to park, would be a huge waste of money.

I should note that since Frost Ave is being reconstructed, its width and the location of curbs can be changed/moved. A concrete curb is the most effective way to separate bikes from traffic, but a painted buffer with bollards can also work to save costs.

Frost Ave Ideal

A safe, affordable Frost Ave.

The Capital Improvement Plan will be adopted after a public hearing on December 10th, 2018. Please come out to join us to ask for safer streets!

You can also contact Maplewood City Manager Melinda Coleman online to provide input/comments at

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7 Responses to Building a Better Frost Avenue

  1. Karen Nelson September 25, 2018 at 2:02 pm #

    I’ve notice the absolute complete lack of need for street parking on Beam Ave in Maplewood also, almost no one parks in the street.

    Any, any street that is being completely redone and curb and gutter being redone, realigned should always have bike infrastructure as a separated path at sidewalk grade.

    Pavement and gravel base needed for bikes is thin compared to paving for trucks. Why do expensive paving for cars and trucks and then parking not over it and say “only bikes here”

    Also, why not one way paths on both sides of street instead of 2 way?

  2. Matt Steele
    Matt September 25, 2018 at 3:12 pm #

    It’s so strange that cities are so eager to pave, plow, sweep, and maintain on-street parking that’s so lightly used. And, in many cases, where usage is suppressed by law:

    • Brian September 27, 2018 at 7:45 pm #

      I expect a big part of why the parking is rarely used is because vehicles cannot be parked overnight.

      • Frank Phelan October 1, 2018 at 12:53 pm #

        I suspect it has more to do with the houses fronting on the side streets, as well as parking being safer on the slower side streets. Although Frost is way too wide, speeds are higher and cars parked there, especially overnight, are at higher risk of being crashed into.

  3. Bill Lindeke
    Bill Lindeke September 26, 2018 at 9:21 am #

    Thanks for writing this up Tyler!

  4. Christa Moseng
    Chris Moseng September 26, 2018 at 11:13 am #

    I hope this vision carries the day in Maplewood!

  5. Matt Henseler October 1, 2018 at 5:37 pm #

    I’ve always loved that area of Maplewood. Something about the small-scale commercial buildings, and how it feels like its frozen in time from about 1948. The area centered at Frost and English has a lot of potential, with the new apartments, the abundant commercial space, and the preserve/savannah with connections to the Phalen trail system. Making the area more bike and pedestrian friendly (like you say, connecting to White Bear) might help spur revitalization.

    Also, the Maplewood Bakery has the best donut hole in the whole metro (glazed only, must get them when they’re fresh).

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