St. Paul Bicycling Missed Connections, Ranked

Stp New Bridge Raymond Ave

A bike lane under a bridge on Raymond Avenue, Saint Paul | Photo by Bill Lindeke

I’ve lived in the Hamline-Midway neighborhood of St. Paul for a few years now and have become very well-acquainted with its bike facilities, both good and bad. Overall, the neighborhood is roughly on par with most of St. Paul, with maybe slightly better connectivity to other parts of the city, though we lack any real stand-out facilities, such as Wheelock Parkway or the Pelham Bikeway.

Like much of the rest of St. Paul, there are some baffling gaps in the bikeways in and around Hamline-Midway. I’ve always found bikeway gaps to be a significant physical and psychological barrier that keeps more people from riding. For instance, if you’re riding west along Como Ave and hit Snelling, your bike lane ends and the speed limit goes up – not exactly a situation that makes you feel safe and welcome. 

While I’m sure most or all of these have some history behind them, I’m not looking to re-litigate that, though any insight folks might have is, of course, of interest! I mostly wanted to think about how easy it might be to bridge these gaps and how useful those connections would be.

So for each, I’ve included a 1-5 scale for both ease of bridging the bap, and for the  importance of the gap. (1 = easiest/most important).

These are based on my perceptions/interpretations, though I very much welcome feedback in the comments.


Griggs Street – from Minnehaha to Pierce Butler

this image shows the Griggs bikeway coming to an end

The Griggs bikeway comes to an end where it intersects with another gap, the missing middle of Minnehaha.

  • 1 – ease 
  • 5 – importance

This chunk is oddly missing from the Griggs Bike Boulevard (which is pretty great by bike boulevard standards), even though its continuation would connect to Griggs Park and the shoulder “bike lanes” on Pierce Butler. In some ways, this gap seems like a mere oversight currently, and honestly, while psychologically it would be nice to see it continue all the way (Google maps even shows it doing so), the practical importance is pretty small because it’s more or less the same as most of the stretch from Minnehaha to Summit.

Just remove the “Bikeway ends” sign and add a few sharrows, maybe put a round-about at Griggs and Englewood. Sidewalk extensions would be nice, too, as they end north of Hubbard, making walking to Domino’s harder than it needs to be (maybe that’s for the better). 


Minnehaha Avenue – from Lexington to Hamline


Looking east from Griggs St. down the bike lane gap between Hamline and Lexington.

  • 3 – ease
  • 2 – importance

This gap is highly noticeable and a big part of the reason I often skip riding on Minnehaha entirely west of Lexington (bad road condition for this stretch and frequently speeding drivers are others). These are the only major east-west lanes in this part of the city and to have a big gap is pretty unfortunate. It’s not as bad going west, as there isn’t parking on the north side of the street and the lane is pretty wide (plenty of space to just stripe the lane?), but traffic on Minnehaha is generally pretty fast and there’s an uphill heading toward Griggs.

While there might be a need to remove some parking to get this done, I think it’s a pretty important section to get filled to help make a more continuous bike route all the way through Frogtown and Hamline-Midway.


Hamline Avenue – from Minnehaha to Pierce Butler

  • 3 – ease
  • 3 – importance

As with the Griggs Bike Boulevard, this seems like a gap that’s simply behind the times in being filled. It might be a little tricky, as some parking would likely need to be removed, but it’s largely underused parking and it would be a useful gap to fill, connecting Charles and Minnehaha facilities to Pierce Butler. 


Lexington Parkway – from Minnehaha to University

  • 3 – ease
  • 2 – importance

This would be a great continuation of the existing sidepath along Lexington from Como Park to Minnehaha. It gets fairly high ease ratings for a separate sidepath because there would be no need to remove parking (seemingly the biggest barrier to any bike project) and would mostly just need the equivalent of widening the existing sidewalk. And while it wouldn’t actually connect with another bikeway other than the Charles Bike Boulevard, it would connect to the Green Line stop at University and Lexington, which would be a great last mile option.


Raymond Avenue – from Myrtle to University

  • 2 – ease
  • 3 – importance

That this one-block gap even exists is puzzling (again, I assume, parking is to blame). You have the nice facilities on Pelham and Myrtle, and lanes north of University on both sides of Raymond, then for this one block stretch there’s a southbound bike lane and only northbound sharrows. Fix it, please.


Raymond to Transitway connection

Raymond Transitway

So close, yet so far. A mere 30 foot walk up a grassy knoll is all that separates access from Raymond to the Transitway.

  • 4 – ease
  • 1 – importance

I’m guessing there are tons of factors at play with this one, with the UofMN, railroads, city, and county all having a say, plus there’s not a physically easy way to link these. But one can dream! And clearly, based on the desire lines that are pretty visible on the hill behind the Tibetan American Foundation, some people have informally made the connection on their own.

St. Paul did a great job with the Transitway underpass along Raymond (see above), but with only detours through the neighborhood or along Energy Park Dr. to officially connect between Raymond and the Transitway, it’s a real missed opportunity, given the heavy use of the Transitway. Hopefully, the dedicated path along Como will largely negate this gap for eastbound cyclists, but it’s annoyingly inconvenient if you’re going west on the Transitway.


Como Avenue – from the Transitway to Snelling

Como 35

If you head west on Como, once you hit Snelling, the bike lanes end and the speed limit goes up – perfect conditions to make someone on a bike feel unsafe and unwelcome.

  • 1 – ease
  • 1 – importance

This is in my opinion the worst bikeway gap in this part of St. Paul. This stretch gets high ridership already (this is where I most consistently see cyclists year-round in St. Paul), but you have the double-whammy of the bike lanes ending right as the speed limit goes up from 30 to 35 mph. With the four lanes and lightish traffic for such a wide road, people driving usually give you space, but I find myself constantly watching over my shoulder in this stretch and it feels really unsafe.

While I’m sure there are additional State Fair-related reasons for this current set-up, it’s ridiculous that there are four lanes of traffic with (almost never used) parking allowed in this stretch. It should be super easy, and would definitely be important to fix this gap. Hopefully, like the missed connection above, a dedicated sidepath along Como should address the bulk of this problem.


St. Anthony Avenue – from Dewey to Prior

  • 4 – ease
  • 2 – importance

While the newish St. Anthony Bikeway is fantastic, the first two blocks east of Prior suck. If you’re going east, you’re riding in a narrow lane against on-coming traffic. While you have dedicated space, it doesn’t feel safe. Going west, you just got done riding in a great facility and then get kicked right back into fast traffic and a poor road surface.

I get it. It’s a narrow stretch and would require either removing parking or an expensive rebuild of the street to expand it into the adjacent space (if that can even be done with railroad ROW nearby). But this stretch mightily detracts from an otherwise great facility that would help funnel cyclists toward Allianz Field and north into Hamline-Midway via Aldine. 


Pascal Street – Marshall to Concordia

  • 2 – ease
  • 3 – importance

Again, a small, but meaningful gap. The city installed nice new buffered lanes along Pascal near the stadium, making biking there more pleasant (though too often blocked with illegally parked cars), but then fails to connect them to the Marshall Avenue lanes. Yes, Pascal is narrower there, but it’s a bad gap that discourages bike access to the stadium and beyond from the south. 


Como Boulevard – east-side two blocks from Nagasaki to Wheelock

  • 1 – ease
  • 2 – importance

Another small, but significant gap, at least psychologically. While there are usually few issues with taking the lane for these two blocks, it’s such a weird and unfortunate gap between the extensive Como bike lanes and the excellent Wheelock Parkway path. It was apparently scheduled to be fixed last summer but never happened, although recently there appears to be prep-work being done to finally complete it. 


Lexington Parkway – from Montana to Larpenteur


There is a narrow shoulder on Lexington for awhile after Larpenteur, but this quickly fades and you are forced to share the street with often-impatient drivers.

  • 4 – ease
  • 2 – importance

If you look at a map of St. Paul, there are only a few bike facility connections to suburbs to the north (Trout Brook, Gateway, and Bruce Vento come to mind). This stretch is no exception. While you have a sidepath (glorified sidewalk) north of Larpenteur along Lexington, and a similar one south of Montana, this gap stands in the way, with limited options to get around it other than riding in the very narrow shoulder or in traffic, or a lengthy detour to quieter side streets. It’s a narrow stretch, so not an easy nut to crack, but it’s an unfortunate gap hindering bike access to Como Park from the north. 


Bonus selection – the entirety of the Midway industrial zone 

This largely inaccessible maze limits access by bike to great breweries such as Urban Growler, Bang, Dual Citizen, and Lake Monster, not to mention puts a big barrier in the way of the most direct route to Minneapolis from most of the northern part of St. Paul (expand the Greenway, please). While you can zig-zag through here (I frequently do) and it’s generally pretty quiet, between big rigs, enough other traffic, and bad street conditions, it’s not the most pleasant route. 


Bike Lane Ends

Once another gap in the Minnehaha lanes was filled, it took six months of contacting various county and city officials before the “ends” part of this sign was finally removed.


Overall, St. Paul has been doing some nice work lately to expand its bike network, especially after recent votes to add a path along Ayd Mill Road and expand the Capital City Bikeway, which will join sidepath upgrades along Como, Johnson, and Mounds Park. But many significant gaps still exist in the current network, and while expansion is a must to help more people feel safe while riding and expand transportation options, completing some of these gaps would also go a long way toward connecting what is often a pretty fragmented system at present, a problem that persists throughout the city, notably for the downtown island.

Of course, once these gaps are filled, we can spend the next six months trying to get “Bike Lane Ends” signs taken down.

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41 thoughts on “St. Paul Bicycling Missed Connections, Ranked

  1. Mike SonnMike Sonn

    A couple of these were already addressed.

    Also, Hamline near PBR wasn’t painted bcs of parking removal would impact one house w/out a garage and then-CM Stark deferred to that property instead of safe bike infra.

  2. John Maddening

    Como Avenue b/w Transitway and Snelling is being done this summer, then Snelling to Hamline next summer.

    Como Boulevard has the markers for the paint done, and the lines should be painted any day now.

    1. John Maddening

      I just drove by on my way home, and yes, the lines on Como Blvd have been painted. They’re just missing the turn arrows and the bike rider stencils.

  3. Dan MarshallDan Marshall

    This is a great list! I think tho you left out the elephant in the room which is Snelling Avenue from Pierce Butler north to Hoyt or so. It’s really hard to bike safely north out of the Midway, with the only options being Raymond/Cleveland or Lexington 2 miles away.

    Snelling also serves the State Fair, arguably the largest pedestrian event in the country. It doesn’t even offer a sidewalk next to the fair. MNDOT’s continued failure to address this amounts to criminal negligence.

    Thank you for a great read!

    1. Andy SingerAndy Singer

      Yeah, I’ve e-mailed Mackenzie Turner the MnDOT bike/ped person asking where this is at and where all the plan sets are that (twice) were reviewed by the public and then disappeared. No reply. Gotta call. This is the number one thing. Makes me furious. You and I could solve this problem in a day with a flatbed full of concrete jersey barriers and some stop signs. But MnDOT has dragged its feet on this for ten years and thousands of hours of public meetings. It’s so stupid and pathetic it defies words.

      1. Paul Nelson

        MN Dot needs to redesign the Snelling 51 roadway system for protected bike lanes and separate space to walk the entire length of the roadway from 7th street traveling north all the way up to Moundsview.

        Part of the problem is that I do not think Mn Dot has the templates or the standards to apply the engineering.

        Snelling 51 is designated a highway. Everyone should be able to walk and pedal drive a bicycle on a highway.

        Where is the design policy for Snelling?

        1. Steve Gjerdingen

          Good luck with that unless you want help me rally up a group that has a county-wide interest in Snelling Ave.

          There was an online open house this past week with MnDOT about Snelling Ave in Roseville. MnDOT has 2 major changes proposed for Snelling Ave in the next year:

          1) Installation of a cable median barrier from 694 to County Rd C. The barrier will effectively prevent cyclists and pedestrians from crossing Snelling at any place where there is a grassy median today. MnDOT will not create any breaks in the barriers unless there is significant demand and even then feel squeemish about providing a gap as it would “promote” some “unsafe crossing activity” along the Snelling Corridor.

          2) Closure of Hamline Ave intersection with Snelling along with access closure on smaller roadways that still connect with Snelling. MnDOT is further looking to reduce intersections on Snelling that are not signalized as they create ‘unsafe’ conditions that cannot be mitigated using “cost effective” measures.

          I hate to say it but MnDOT is chipping away bit by bit on the Snelling Ave corridor making gradual changes to eventually turn the road into a freeway. Eventually, these changes are going to catch up with the rest of Roseville and St. Paul. The Har Mar shopping district will be ruined, the face of the State Fair drastically changed, and there is going to be knife through the Hamline Midway neighborhood unless some effort is put in to oppose their efforts to gradually overtake the roadway.

            1. Steve Gjerdingen

              Right now if you travel up Hamline to go north, it eventually dumps out onto Snelling. Travelling south through that same intersection isn’t possible anymore (in a car) due to a barrier that MnDOT put in place that was supposed to be ‘temporary’.

          1. Paul Nelson

            Thank you, Steve. Advocacy via a local group might be possible, but the overall problem I see is a policy mindset of the entire MnDot agency and its systems of designing roads. It is not just Snelling 51 that is wrong, but many other roads and roadway systems. My state representative explained to me in a letter of reply that “…we do not have jurisdiction over state agencies (which are under the purview of the executive branch), we rely on experts within the agencies to carry out those policies and budget decisions.” And then there is the funding system we have through the fuel tax that “is constitutionally dedicated to roads” that clearly appears to be for auto roads only by design.

            The future plans and design policy examples that you describe for Snelling will in many ways simply not work. A high speed motorway only structure through a dense city or regions where there are lots of people creates many problems that can not be mitigated. The way I look at it is that it was not wrong to build through motorways because we have a big country. However, a continual motorway only roadway system everywhere that dismisses walk and bike creates more induced demand for the auto use with corresponding higher levels of cars on the road where it is not needed. In addition a high speed motorway with few of no crossing for walk and bike does not work either.

            I do not currently know of an easy fix. Perhaps more MnPass technology on motorway only road system since the fuel tax does not pay adequately at all for the car roads we now have.

              1. Paul Nelson

                The following is a complete list of the executive staff of MnDot. I plan to write to Governor Waltz and most of these people, and CC my state rep and Senator and my council member, and Mayor Carter and my County folk. Then I plan to publish and share my letter here, and await a reply. My Representative did say MnDot was part of the executive branch.

                I think there is a huge design policy problem with MnDot and it is tied in with the finance structure, fuel tax, etc.

                We need a new roadway system.

                Margaret Anderson Kelliher Transportation Commissioner 651-366-4800

                Nancy Daubenberger Deputy Commissioner and Chief Engineer 651-366-4826

                Scott Peterson Deputy Commissioner & Chief Administrative Officer 651-366-4817

                Kristi Schroedl Chief Financial Officer 651-366 4859

                Sara Severs Chief of Staff 651-366-3402

                Craig Gustafson Chief Counsel 651-366-4841

                Tim Henkel Assistant Commissioner, Modal Planning and Program Management 651-366-4829

                Mark Gieseke Assistant Commissioner, Engineering Services (Acting) 651-366-4808

                Jay Hietpas Assistant Commissioner, Operations

                Janet Cherney Assistant Commissioner, Corporate Services 651-366-4814

                Kristine Elwood Assistant Commissioner, State Aid

                Erik Rudeen Government Affairs Director 651-366-4823

                Jacob Loesch Strategic Communications director

                Renee Raduenz Public Engagement & Constituent Services director (Acting) 651-366-4803

                Daniel Kahnke Audit director 651-366-4140

          2. Monte Castleman

            If MnDOts efforts to correct serious safety hazards to people in cars aren’t appreciated, maybe Ramsey County could take over the road. If they asked MnDOT would gladly give it to them since it is not a principal arterial, and is in fact officially listed as a turnback candidate south of 36

            1. Paul Nelson

              Ramsey County has difficulty with its roads too, and if Ramsey County took over the road, I do not believe that would change much of anything.

              “Principal Arterials” should not be built just for cars. They first should be designed for walk and bike.

              1. Ian R BuckModerator  

                Ah, but Ramsey County actually has the political will to prioritize the safety of vulnerable road users over uninterrupted flow of motor vehicle traffic.

  4. Forrest Fleischman

    I have to bicycle through your bonus industrial wasteland to get to work every day. Its terrifying. And I believe it could be a relatively easy fix.

    1. Luke Peterson

      Absolutely! You’d think a connection between Transfer Rd. and Either Raymond or even Myrtle across University would be relatively easy.

      I’m wondering what the least industrial route through there is to make that connection.

  5. Philip Monson

    The biggest issue? It’s engineers, planners and politicians who design and make decisions, but don’t ride bicycles.

  6. Luke Martinkosky

    Excellent list Zack. The Como Boulevard connection was just completed a few days ago. The City also just completed the bike path on Wheelock Hill last week, so Como Park and vicinity is now connected via bike infrastructure to Bruce Vento, Gateway and on out to Stillwater! As John said, the Como Ave. gap is being addressed starting this summer as part of completion of the St. Paul Grand Rounds. Slowly but surely the gaps are being closed. Any bets on how many years for all of them to be closed?

      1. John Holton

        haha. Last year I decided to do Minneapolis ‘grand rounds’ only to discover it’s more of a 3/4 moon. The whole NE section is just a DIY scrum of wherever you think is safest through the industrial heart of the city.

        That said, my least favorite part of the path was North Minneapolis through Victory. Very aggressive curb cuts – cross roads bisecting not, one, but two times every block really made for a miserable stretch of bike path.

  7. Pat Thompson

    I am so looking forward to the Raymond to Snelling (to Hamline) off-road path and in-street lanes on Como coming this summer… And would love the connection to the Transitway at Raymond also. St. Anthony Park also agitates for a connection from Langford Park to Energy Park (and therefore the Transitway) without having to go over to Raymond… there’s basically a grade crossing desire path off the end of Langford.

    I was at the meetings when the Myrtle to University one block sharrow decision was made. Yes, the reason was parking. That’s when Myrtle from Raymond to Pelham was made into a one-way and one side of the parking there was eliminated.

  8. Jim Alan

    Last I heard the city is beyond flat broke. I thought it was worth a mention but probably not to this group. Great post though. Very well done and compeling too.

  9. James Kohls

    Lexington from Montana to Larpentuer is my neighborhood. The photo very close to my house. I remember, as a young child (40 some years ago), this was 4 lanes, then 4:3’d in maybe the 80s or90s. It should be reduced to 20 or 25MPH and 3:2’d.

    To do right, means changing the west side to accommodate a 10-12′ trail to match the Roseville trail to the north and Como Park trail to the south. This would requirer a lot of work moving the curbs (tree removal alone won’t make enough room), signs, stop lights at Hoyt, and addressing visibility at the alley ways. But I think it’d be worth it. Unfortunately it just had an M&O last year and Ramsey county removed a crosswalk and made no improvements to bike infrastructure. So the next opportunity is likely many many years away.

    Lexington from Minnehaha to University has also been one of my big pushes, but as I’ve been told even cyclists argued against extending the trail on Lexington. Their argument was too many street intersections—to which I’ve always said…close some streets! It is a “County Trail Search Corridor”, but I don’t see much hope of a trail extension anytime soon.

    That being said, to quote the St. Paul City Engineer in 1896: “I would also recommend that a bicycle path be built on Lexington avenue, from Summit avenue to Como Park, as being one of the most convenient avenues of approach to the park.”,%20from%20Summit%20avenue%20to%20Como%20Park

    1. Steve Gjerdingen

      I agree that a 3-2 conversion on Lexington Ave between Montana and Larpenteur is going to be needed. The county may also want to consider banning left turns on Lexington onto those side streets during rush hour if going down to 2 lanes is going to negatively impact traffic flow. I think I could go either way on a sidepath or bike lanes for Lexington north of Montana to the St. Paul border. It probably makes sense to do a new sidepath south of Larpenteur but the existing sidepath north of Larpenteur between Larpenteur and Garden Ave is absolutely terrible. It’s tiny and full of curb cuts. The 5 lane Lexington Ave is overbuilt in this stretch as it’s 3 lanes north and south of this area. This would be a great opportunity for a road diet.

  10. J. Neumann

    So how and who pays for all this again? The people that live on those roads and taxes on vehicles. Both of which do not want these added restrictions to driving and parking or additions taxes which in the cases you are proposing will be 7 to 10 thousand dollars. When the state can find a way for bikes to pay their share, then lets redo everything so you can feel safe. Maybe its time to add license plates and fees to your mode and choice of transportation, because just complaining about something without a solution is just that….and dont have one besides to spend other peoples money.

    1. Pat Thompson

      The majority of street/road projects are paid for with general funds, not vehicle-related taxes/fees since those have not kept up with inflation over the decades. We all pay for the general fund, whether we drive motor vehicles or not… Not to mention that many bicyclists also drive vehicles as well and so contribute through those user fees anyway.

      And creating this type of bike infrastructure makes our streets safer for the drivers of cars, not just the riders of bikes, as demonstrated through research across multiple countries. So it benefits car drivers, even though many don’t recognize it.

    2. John Maddening

      Hey, J.

      My wife and I own two cars and two motorcycles, as well as two bicycles. Even if the local streets were paid for by license tab costs, we would pay our fair share, as we can only use two of those vehicles at one time between us.

      On top of that, like Pat says, this is general fund money that comes primarily from property taxes. So the taxes we pay on our house is who pays for bike lanes.

    3. Paul Nelson

      It is worth noting, that the private car is very heavily subsidized here and throughout the US. The fuel tax does not come close to all of the costs to accommodate the automobile, and there is not much else of a user fee. See the following: Any cost that is not covered by the fuel tax or license fees, we all pay for somehow.

      The bicycle as a mode within a transport system, has been studied and shown many times, actually makes money per unit of length, where as the auto loses money per mile or kilometre.

      We need to keep these facts in mind when considering policy of design and costs to all of our roads and streets. Motor way only design is hugely expensive and does not work well to serve the public purpose that we all pay for.

  11. Ellen Brown

    And then there is the Charles St Bikeway ending abruptly just shy of Fairview…I forget the street name.

    1. Ian R BuckModerator  

      If only those ding dang buildings would get out of the way!
      I don’t feel that salty about Charles bike boulevard ending there because cars can’t get through, either.

  12. G. Narvaez

    this is a great list. It is hardly complete, but it is a good start. I do want to point out that one thing that would make the Griggs bridge over I-94 would be the removal or change to the gate lock levers at either end of the bridge that are placed at arm level and jut out in a way that can cause great injury to cyclists (or pedestrians if they are not careful while walking by).

    What else would I add to the list? a better way to go from the Midway to UMN. The underpass at University between Prior and Transfer should be designated a mixed use or dedicated bike lane. I do not see cars and bikes “sharing the road” on University.

  13. Ian R BuckModerator  

    The gap on Hamline from Minnehaha to PBR has another point for importance: it would also connect people to the pedestrian bridge over the train tracks, which brings them to the soon-to-come Energy Park Drive bike lanes.

  14. Ian R BuckModerator  

    Lexington from Montana to Larpenteur also gets an importance bump because the only bike shop in that part of town Bicycle Chain, is at Lexington and Larpenteur.

  15. Steve Gjerdingen

    Can someone please explain why the Raymond to Transitway connection is so important for going west and why the Energy Park drive connection is deficient? I assume that the main issue is if you are coming from the north and headed west? I used to regularly use EPD to access the transitway and have found it to be a decent route. Sure, one has to wait a little bit for a signal to cross EPD regardless of whether they are headed north or south. Wouldn’t that also be true if you were already on the transitway from a connection at Raymond? Also, I think you would need ramps on both sides of Raymond to connect to the transitway if you wanted to make it efficient.

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