Podcast #122: Planning for Walking in Saint Paul with Fay Simer

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Cover of the city’s first draft Pedestrian Plan. DETAIL.

Today I’m bringing you a conversation with Fay Simer. Fay Simer is the Pedestrian Coordinator for Saint Paul Public Works Department, and she has been working diligently on the city’s first ever official pedestrian plan. Like most cities, Saint Paul has never had an official plan for how to design a city for people to walk. Typically, there might be ordinances or policies about sidewalks or street engineering or ADA requirements, but putting everything together into a city-wide plan to push walking infrastructure is not something that most cities have ever done. After lots of community input, advocacy efforts, and problematic crashes, Saint Paul has finally come up with a plan for how to improve our streets with walking in mind.

That’s all about to change. Thanks to Fay Simer, who has been working diligently on the plan over the last year and a half, an actual city pedestrian plan is in draft form right now.

I sat down with Fay in her office building the other day, across the street from city hall, to chat about the draft plan and how she and the city came up with it. We chatted about the challenges, procedures, and policy prescriptions that come with trying to change walking in a city like Saint Paul, where there are lots of gaps in the sidewalks, dangerous streets, snow storms, and other barriers to walking. It’s a nerdy conversation and an important one, and I hope you enjoy it.


This podcast is sponsored by Bill Lindeke’s Sidewalks store, full of great gift ideas for people who love local history.

I have some new flags available for the holiday season! After a long time MIA, Northeast Minneapolis and Saint Paul flags are in stock in the large 3’ x 5’ size, suitable for flying from flagpoles. (Go big or go home.)

In addition, I have printed up a limited amount of “original 1932 edition” Saint Paul flags, in the 2’ x 3’ smaller size. These have the Saint Paul crest, but without the “SAINT PAUL” banner at the bottom of the flag. It’s just how Gladys Mittle intended it. (The banner was added after 1932 by an unknown bureaucrat or booster.) If you’re into flag design, this is the Saint Paul flag for you!

Just one thing… If you want any of these goodies delivered before Christmas, put in your order soon.

Bill Lindeke

About Bill Lindeke

Pronouns: he/him

Bill Lindeke has writing blogging about sidewalks and cities since 2005, ever since he read Jane Jacobs. He is a lecturer in Urban Studies at the University of Minnesota Geography Department, the Cityscape columnist at Minnpost, and has written multiple books on local urban history. He was born in Minneapolis, but has spent most of his time in St Paul. Check out Twitter @BillLindeke or on Facebook.