Frost Ave Ideal

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  melindacoleman@maplewoodmn.gov

Originally posted at http://tylerhamiltonmn.com/2018/09/20/building-a-better-frost-ave/

Tyler Hamilton

About Tyler Hamilton

Tyler Hamilton is a lifelong Minnesotan, born in Duluth and raised in East Saint Paul and Maplewood. He is overly fond of maps and flags, but needs to spend less time on transportation and land-use and more time cooking and eating delicious food. He can be found at @TylerHamiltonMN on twitter and /TylerHamiltonMN on Facebook.

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