April 13th, 2018 was the first real test of the transportation plan set forth for fans getting to Allianz Field. I didn’t attend the game, but I was curious how well the plan would actually work. I admit, I had my skepticism.
The Bicycle Routing Plan encouraged cyclists to use connect with Pascal St. N (north/south). via Charles and Marshall Aves (east/west). From the west, the recommendation was to take St. Anthony Blvd. to Pierce St. and then Shields across Snelling (controlled intersection).
I arrived in the University and Snelling Aves area about 3:20pm (game start time was 4:00pm). I live in the Como Park area, so I took the Griggs bike boulevard south. The transportation plan suggested I take W. Minnehaha Ave. to Pascal, but I chose to take Griggs all the way to Marshall Ave.
I encountered four other cyclists from Griggs, west to Pascal. Three were wearing Loon colors. Traffic on Marshall was typical for any given weekend. Very light, maybe 1-3 cars per block.
One of the most frustrating parts of my ride was the complete lack of signage for the new stadium. The turn onto Pascal is a very nondescript intersection, which one could easily pass, if you are not familiar with the area. When I visited the same area, back in March, I passed the street. I had hoped on game day, temporary signs would be posted.
All we need is a few sidewalk signs on the westbound corner and one a bit farther back on the eastbound side so bikes can prepare to turn left—using the left-turn lane, if desired. Ideally, this signage should appear before the hill blocks a riders view of traffic behind them. The back side of the westbound sign could also show the same information so left-turn cyclists have visual confirmation they are taking the correct route.
Pascal St., up to Concorida Ave, had very light traffic. There are no bike lanes on this stretch of Pascal. There are four “Share the Road” signs, spaced about one block apart. I would prefer these signs were replaced with “Bikes May Use Full Lane” signs. I feel these signs give bikes more authority, in drivers’ minds, to ride farther out from parked cars, to avoid the door zone.
A traffic officer was stationed at Concordia and Pascal. There were only 11 cars waiting to cross Pascal, as I approached. Three of the cars were not turning toward the stadium. Only three cars were waiting to head southbound on Pascal. Crossing the bridge, painted shoulders exist, but they were blocked with snow. I’m not sure why they aren’t marked as bike lanes. I would also appreciate delineators on this stretch.
St. Anthony Ave had quite a bit of traffic. But nothing out of the ordinary for an exit street from I-94. There were two traffic officers directing traffic and pedestrians through the intersection.
Pascal, from St. Anthony to University, had been repaved and only small dots marked the lanes, this day. There will be in-street bike lanes on both north and south sides. I had suggested to St. Paul Public Works that buffers could easily be added to this section due to the lack of on-street parking. We’ll see how the final layout looks. Another major improvement would be delineators. As I noted, this section has plenty of room for buffered bike lanes. Delineators would discourage right-turning traffic from entering the bike lane too early and provide northbound cyclists a safe area to wait and cross to the bike parking.
Again, I didn’t see any signage indicating where cyclists should enter the field to park. According the the transportation plan, there are two routes bikes are encouraged to use to find parking spots. One at St. Anthony and the other on the opposite side from the Cub Foods parking lot.
The bike racks at St. Anthony are right next to the street at both of these locations, but with heavier traffic heading to the field, University Ave, and the mall; you probably aren’t looking that way. Permanent bike parking signage next to the racks and signs would go a long way towards helping cyclists prepare for when to turn.
Pascal and University is probably about as busy as Snelling and University in terms of pedestrian, bike and car interactions. There were a lot of cars queued north and south on Pascal—mostly due to mall traffic. Three traffic officers were assisting with flow at this intersection. Of course, this intersection is always a bit crazy.
On the north-side of Pascal (the route you would enter arriving from the north), the traffic queue heading southbound, across University, was about a block long. This was the worst part of my experience and a reason I chose to take Griggs to Marshall instead of Pascal south.
There are brand new, large, bike boulevard chevrons on this stretch. Including “Share the Road” signs every block. Unfortunately street parking makes this street very dangerous. The sidewalks are much too skinny to accommodate both bike and pedestrians, which makes them unusable for bikes, with all the people walking to the game.
If the City of St. Paul and Allianz Field want cyclists to arrive from the north; the street parking on Pascal, north of University has to go. As Pioneer Press writer Fred Melo noted, the fears of soccer fans clogging up the neighborhood side streets was unfounded. Parallel streets, only one block from University, had plenty of on-street parking. I even passed Fred as he was loading his kids into his car. He had two car-lengths ahead and three behind his car. The streets were so calm, kids were skateboarding down them.
If bike lanes can’t be added, then the same recommendation of “Bikes May Use Full Lane” signs also applies. But this won’t make the street less dangerous.
My overall summary, southwest routes, Snelling and University experiences will follow in Part 2.
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