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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