‘Save Our Street’ Is a Disinformation Campaign: The Summit Avenue Regional Trail Is What St. Paul Needs

If you are a Summit Avenue resident with a “Save Our Street” lawn sign or a passerby concerned by that fearful phrase: The beautiful Summit Avenue is not in danger.

The signs are advocating against a proposed bike trail that will make for a safer road without sacrificing the things you love most about the street: the wonderful trees, the historic houses, the large boulevard, the connection from the Cathedral to the Mississippi River.

  • There will not be a mass removal of trees.
  • You will still be able to park on the street.
  • The bike trail will be safer and more accessible.
  • Do you prefer to drive? Great, let’s move the bikes out of your way!

The city’s plan, which is not yet finalized, is to shift the bike traffic to the outside of the roadway with physical separation from moving traffic. Road construction will happen regardless of the final plan. Summit Avenue is scheduled for a full reconstruction either in its current layout or with a separated trail.

If you can’t quite picture what the change will look like, head over to Como Avenue between Hamline and Snelling avenues. You’ll find a two-way bike trail completely out of the way of car traffic that is safe for users of all abilities.

Here are some key arguments that the “Save Our Street” campaign has gotten wrong:

“Save Our Street” ClaimRealitySource

Who is this master plan intended to serve? Overall, what is the “point”? Is anyone in the bicycle community actually pushing for a regional trail on Summit?
Last fall, the city asked residents “What would make you bike more in Saint Paul?”. The far and away most common response was “More separated bikeways”. Many people want trails like this and will benefit from their construction.Fall 2021 Engagement Survey (Question 2)
Only 217 people bike on Summit Ave per day
Between 2015 and 2021, MnDOT’s automated counter on Summit Ave east of Fairview Ave averaged 640 cyclists per day. 25% of all days recorded greater than 1,000 cyclists per day. Notably, this is at a single data collection point that only captures bike rides on the farthest west mile of Summit.

More importantly, trails like this allow more people to ride bikes. Studies show that building protected bike infrastructure leads to a significant increase in bike ridership.
MnDOT Bicycle and Pedestrian Traffic Counting

International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
The trail will cost $50,000 per cyclist

The roadway assessment cost to Summit Ave property owners will be the same whether the road includes a trail or is reconstructed exactly as it is. The city has not released financials, but the majority of the work in the reconstruction will be on the vehicle roadway (including new water/sewer infrastructure). The cost will not increase because of the trail.
Summit Avenue Regional Trail Master Plan FAQ
Hundreds of trees are at risk of removal
The city has stated that greenspace and trees “have been and continue to be a priority”. With a redesign either completely within or only slightly beyond the width of the existing roadway, there will not be a massive removal of trees. The city needs to be honest and up front about the tree impact in the final proposal, but the tree canopy that we all love is not in danger.
Summit Avenue Regional Trail Master Plan FAQ
An off-road trail will increase risks to cyclists
The safest bike infrastructure is fully separated paths. Protected bicycle facilities create safer cities for all types of road users – drivers included. The trail will make it so bicycles no longer have to travel immediately adjacent to moving vehicle traffic and in the dangerous “door zone” of parked cars. There will be no new conflict points for cars and bicycles.
Journal of Transport & Health

In short, the “Save Our Street” campaign is acting in bad faith on bad information.

I’ve talked to several different “Save Our Street” advocates at their tables along Summit Avenue, and the frank truth is that they don’t even fully understand what they’re campaigning against. Each expressed their desire for safer bike infrastructure and for vehicle traffic to be calmed. One even conceded to me that they generally like the plan, but are taking a hardline stance so they have more negotiating leverage with the city.

This bike trail will allow cyclists of all abilities to bike on Summit Avenue. A bike trail will enhance year-round biking with a surface that can be fully cleared of snow instead of a lane which gets rutted and narrowed by car tires and snow plows. A bike trail will allow more people to replace car trips, which will reduce noise and pollution and move us toward our climate goals.

The road reconfiguration will be a major improvement for the many people who are interested in biking, but concerned for their safety. The greatest barrier to biking in St. Paul is the danger posed by cars. Paint alone is not infrastructure. Bike lanes that are separated from vehicle traffic only by a white line are not safe enough. The trail will allow people to bike with their children in trailers, for older kids to ride their own bikes, for hesitant riders to feel comfortable, for commuters to be safe — all along one of our city’s most beautiful roads.

This should be a moment for celebration. St. Paul is continuing to evolve toward a more equitable, sustainable, happier city. To “Save Our Street” would be to commit to outdated, unsafe infrastructure for decades. 

Write to your City Council member and talk to your neighbors. This is a great moment of opportunity for St. Paul!

Ben Swanson-Hysell

About Ben Swanson-Hysell

Ben lives in St. Paul with his wife and two kids. He is a member of the Union Park District Council Transportation Committee. Professionally, he works as a Data/Business Analyst.

43 thoughts on “‘Save Our Street’ Is a Disinformation Campaign: The Summit Avenue Regional Trail Is What St. Paul Needs

  1. Dan MarshallDan Marshall

    Excellent! This really demonstrates that when you take Save Our Streets seriously and actually address their stated concerns, their whole argument falls apart. In my experience, this is the most frustrating part of their entire campaign.

    But the most insidious piece of disinformation is their use of the word “Our”. Summit does not belong to the residents of Summit Avenue. It belongs to all the citizens of Saint Paul.

    1. John B Nelson

      “Ours” is not an exclusive pronoun. It is the possessive pronoun for the first person PLURAL, and includes the speaker (“mine”) and others (“yours” and “theirs”).

      Summit does indeed belong to its residents… and its schools, institutions, houses of worship, businesses … and its visitors and supporters. Yes, it does belong to the whole city, and beyond. Summit has regional and national importance.

      Yet, importantly, by stating “all of ours” you’re trying to imply that your view represents “all.” We all know there is disagreement on this plan’s merits.

      By stating “all” you’re also falsely implying that stakes are equally deep. There is a difference in stake between those who currently engage with Summit as a primary destination, and those who simply pass through it on their way somewhere else. Residents are always recognized as a primary stakeholder. This comment seems aimed at denying this fundamental concept rather than genuinely engaging with stakeholder concerns.

      By the way, what do you call your street, you know, the one that you live on?

      1. Dan MarshallDan Marshall

        Summit belongs to all of Saint Paul and its design should reflect the needs of the entire city and its clearly stated climate and safe streets goals. And yes I do deny that residents should be seen as the primary stakeholders in a question of regional and even global importance. They are not.

        I call the street I live on Tatum. It’s in the Midway. We would love separated trails in our neighborhood. On Minnehaha, for example.

    2. Michael

      I support slowing down any street redevelopment until the city is more transparent about its goals. I live along the recently redeveloped Como Avenue. We don’t trust public works after our experience.

      The entire project was a mess:

      Horrendous blind spots.

      The location of the roadway requires turning vehicles to stop two times, blocking the path during the second stop.

      Bus zones aren’t wide enough for a bus, requiring passing traffic to cross the yellow lines.

      Existing crosswalks were eliminated, and this has not been resolved despite multiple calls out to our council member.

      Many trees lost were replaced with sod rather than native plants.

      People feel burned by policies such as twenty is plenty because there was no intent at actually slowing traffic down. The backdoor intent was to narrow roadways upon redevelopment. Arterials get redeveloped more frequently than residential streets, meaning the congestion from the newly narrowed arterials will spill over onto residential streets that are lucky to get redeveloped once every fifty years.

      The Como example is a corridor that hosts a major bus line, many community events, and the largest event in our state. But, unfortunately, I don’t believe the outreach painted a clear enough picture.

      Lastly, many cyclists don’t use our Como trail because of the above reasons and the fact that it is poorly marked. So now we have cyclists, buses, parked cars, and traffic on a street that is too narrow.

      In my opinion, we see a concerted effort to adopt a road diet, which is an ableist approach that ignores the loss of efficiency in school transportation, public transportation, and increased density that our city has embraced. Few can afford to live and work in the same walkable or bikeable area, and many can’t afford the negative impacts.

      I fully support major investments in bike and pedestrian safety. Our home of two features one car and two bicycles. One of us commutes to work via transit. I spoke out against the Snelling/Pierce Butler/Energy Park redevelopment because of the lack of a separate pedestrian bridge along that cooridor. No way we should reconfigure Snelling and not build a separate roadway in the area that hosts the State Fair and two universities.

      We asked for speed bumps like on Otis by the golf course, but no one from the city can explain why none of our neighborhood streets meet the specifications that protect the golf carts. They won’t even share the details.

      Pedestrian safety in our most transit-dependent corridor of University Avenue receives no attention, not even flashing lights to alert traffic. We can see how quickly that stuff gets installed on the other side of the freeway.

      I hope you can see why I am skeptical now. I would rather see nothing than something that makes everything worse. So put the brakes on it. Issues like this make me want to vote for someone other than Carter or Mitra Jalali, but that isn’t possible because I won’t vote for a right winger or a nazi.

      1. Ed SteinhauerEd Steinhauer

        I was not aware of the Como redesign until I started working in St. Anthony Park. I commute by bike daily from St. Paul’s West Side, and this stretch of Como is my favorite part of the ride. I appreciate your concerns, and your experience is real and not to be diminished. But access to and from SAP, the Fairgrounds, Como Park, and points beyond is exactly what the City is trying to do by creating improved bike infrastructure. Likewise with Summit Avenue; the jewel of Our Fair City. As the author here states, more separated bike lanes will encourage increased bike transit, and lower greenhouse gas emissions. And that’s good, right?

        1. Michael


          It isn’t good if it is designed poorly. I would happily share photos of examples if this platform supported that function. The reality is that many still bike in the now narrow lanes on Como because of the bike path location and blindspots.

          Your view of good, is based on what you view as a benefit, which you highlight. Everyone isn’t able to bike to work. I believe that increased congestion and longer running times on transit have a negative impact on quality of life for many other people.

          I support investment into dedicated right of way that doesn’t require a decrease in safety or utility for other forms of transport. Once you turn pedestrian safety into a leap to discourage, or disincentive other forms of transit, you lose my vote and support.


          1. Matt Jackson

            I endorse and appreciate Michael’s comments. Bikers are NOT a monolith in favor of a two way side path.

            I am a winter biker and I avoid paths like Wheelock and Como’s, due to blind driveways, intersection conflicts, and ice and puddles. Trails are not designed with any drainage and the freeze-thaw cycle is considerably more hazardous on the paths than streets. This is my personal experience, as someone who logs more mileage on two wheels than four each year. The loss of Summit’s bike lanes would be devastating to commuters like me.

            I’m also a father, and my experience of the bike lanes as a parent is also good— would I like to see them improved? hell yes: improved, but not eliminated. My family —two kids and one less-confident-biking spouse—use and support Summit’s bike lanes. They especially like the buffered lanes on the western end. The east lanes could be widened with an added buffer, by taking some space from the driving lane.

  2. Scott BergerScott Berger

    I have a friend who lives on Summit and she’s been repeatedly asked and even pressured to put an “SOS” sign in her yard. Instead of blindly accepting, she reviewed the city’s materials at https://engagestpaul.org/summit. She concluded that she wasn’t at all concerned with the city’s plan (to the extent one is released) and she actually thought the protected bike trail would be better and safer for their small children.

  3. Bill Mantis

    There is (at least) one legitimate, “good-faith” question that remains: Would bike trail construction necessarily kill more of Summit Avenue’s trees than “as is” re-construction?

    1. Ed SteinhauerEd Steinhauer

      See the article published on September 21 re: arborist presentation at Mt. Zion Temple. Trees, apparently, don’t like having their toes covered in concrete. Also, ripping up the road bed and replacing water and sewer lines, which are non-negotiable features of next year’s improvements, will do at least as much damage as any of the things SOS alleges to be so afraid of.

      1. Matt Jackson

        Many of the street designs do expand the roadway, so yes.

        (I just flipped Bill’s response, in case anyone missed that.)

        And overly simplistic read of these designs is a disservice to all stakeholders: bikers, drivers, and pedestrians. (Which can be just one person, on different days or times.)

        The City—to their credit— have begun talking more about the trees and since June have seemed to back away from designs that expanded the roadway. This change was largely and importantly due to the pressure from the people, especially those people involved in SOS (to their credit). Hats off to civic engagement.

        The problem is that the city still want to cram a side path “trail” on the street, no matter what. Staying within the curb necessitates a two-way side path for much of Summit. For the Summit Avenue context—with considerably more frequent intersections and driveways and much busier context making those conflicts riskier— the trail would be truly dangerous. The author writes that no new conflicts would be created, however this fails to acknowledge that the existing conflicts would be changed and be made more dangerous. The two way trail on one side of a two way road creates blind spots and unexpected “wrong way” travel direction.

        1. Matt Jackson

          Here’s a quote from FHWA:

          19.4 Location within the street cross section
          Bicycle lanes are always located on both sides of the road on two-way streets. Since bicyclists must periodically merge with motor vehicle traffic, bike lanes should not be separated from other motor vehicle lanes by curbs, parking lanes, or other obstructions. Two-way bike lanes on one side of two-way streets create hazardous conditions for bicyclists and are not recommended.

          19.5 Practices to be avoided: Two-way bike lane
          This creates a dangerous condition for bicyclists. encourages illegal riding against traffic, causing several problems:
          • At intersections and driveways, wrong-way riders approach from a direction where they are not visible to motorists.
          • Bicyclists closest to the motor vehicle lane have opposing motor vehicle traffic on one side and opposing bicycle traffic on the other.
          • Bicyclists are put into awkward positions when transitioning back to standard bikeways

          1. Matt Jackson

            Someone might say that this guidance does not apply, taking issue the use of the word “lanes.” This someone might say that the proposed side path will be “protected,” but the side path is not being constructed along the River Road — in a context where there’s few or no conflicts. Whatever protection the raised curb provides disappears each and every time a driveway or a street crosses the path. So all the dangers described above apply.

  4. Ryan Hashbrowns

    A better plan between the city and the neighborhood needs to be worked out.

    I’m not even sure it’s a great spot for something called “a trail”, Summits a nice connector to other bike trails but there’s so many side street breaks you’ll still be stopping and navigating busy traffic quite a bit anyway.

    You’ve mostly ignored or stepped over the biggest issue: Where is the street parking going to actually go? Summit parks on both sides, there’s an unquestionable parking loss look at the drawings you posted.

    Summit gets parked up, the side streets are full too, in the winter they often close off parking on one side due to snow. These houses are not all filled with rich people with their own garages. many are condos, apartments, boarding houses, halfway houses, group homes.

    Service trucks, again, no street parking in sections of summit where will they go? Summit houses are big, there’s often big lawn services and utility truck that can’t go in driveways, where will they park temporarily?

    And finally, not everyone can ride a bike..the good for the whole city thing is candy coated and wishy washy. the whole over zealous push on bike trails feels like it’s often led by privileged white people, they have cars but chose to ride bikes for fitness and environmental reasons. It’s not the poor, needy, handicapped and elderly pushing for this sort of thing but a small selection of the community that often already have a lot.

    1. Pine SalicaPine Salica

      They close off parking one side over winter already, so why the concern about doing the same for the other 6 months of the year?

      1. Bethany Gladhill

        Summit does not close off to one-side parking over winter. The only time in recent years that that has happened was in March of 2019, when the entire city went to one-sided parking.

    2. Zak YudhishthuModerator  

      Cities exist to do a thousand wonderful things that aren’t just storing cars. I promise we can still make society function with a reduction in street parking spots.

      Also, you’re right that not everyone can bike, but remember that many people don’t have cars, too (especially the poor, needy, handicapped, and elderly): (https://www.minnpost.com/community-voices/2022/07/regarding-summit-avenue-bike-lanes-data-show-that-favoring-cars-over-bikes-is-inequitable/). It’s all about opening up options for many kinds of people.

      1. Jack B Nelson

        Clever, you posted a link to your own opinion piece…

        I will post the referenced one (which is not mine, but which I found very thoughtful and thought provoking).

        “ It is not lost on me that, in community meetings where I encounter the passionate voices of advocates for plans like those proposed for the new Summit Avenue Regional Trail, those voices are primarily and overwhelmingly white and male and able.

        “It is not lost on me that the only consideration they have is for how they live their lives”


        1. zyudhishthu

          I agree that bike advocates are not as diverse of a group as they could be. But are the parking-concerned residents of Summit Avenue a more diverse group? When you have micropolitical fights about one of St. Paul’s most expensive streets, the turnout is unsurprisingly un-diverse, and that’s a real problem. But I find it completely dishonest to only point that criticism in one direction.

    3. Jack Fei

      Parking demand for the length of Summit Avenue is NOT uniform. Areas near churches and schools may be busy when open. But a couple of blocks away, there are many open spaces. St Paul Public Works will evaluate peak parking demand before any Summit Avenue section gets reconstructed. I would welcome a policy provides parking a percentage below peak demand in conjunction with signage to inform people the 63 Metro Transit Bus Line is ONE BLOCK south on Grand Avenue.

  5. Tom Quinn

    The problem for bicyclists with trails off the main road is the cross streets. Regardless of where the stop signs are placed, motorists will cross the bike trail and stop only when they hit Summit. Look at Lexington Avenue between Larpenteur and County Road E. There is a bike/pedestrian trail nearly the whole way and I can attest from experience it far safer to avoid the trail and ride along the shoulder. Cars never stop before the trail. The trail on Como referenced in the article only has a couple of cross streets and largely avoids this problem, but Summit has a cross street every block and every block is going to be a hazard for a bicyclist. I predict serious bikers will move to the street as they do on Lexington.

    Summit is already one of the better bike routes in Saint Paul, but is in horrible shape and the best benefit to bicyclists would be resurface it. Bicycle accidents caused by pot holes, debris, and loose gravel far exceed those caused by autos.

    And while I’m griping about Saint Paul’s infrastructure, if the City was serious about facilitating life without autos they would enforce the requirement to shovel the sidewalks in the winter. It’s a rare block that doesn’t have someone who doesn’t shovel which forces anyone with a mobility issue or without cleats to drive or risk a fall.

    1. Dan MarshallDan Marshall

      This argument is also disingenuous. I agree the trail along Lexington Avenue in Roseville is poorly designed. I’ve almost been hit these myself. But we should compare Summit Avenue to the city of Saint Paul’s recent trails along Como Avenue, Wheelock Parkway, or Johnson Parkway, which feature numerous safety features like tabled crossings and closed off side streets which make these trails extremely safe and far safer than Summit’s painted lane status quo.

      The argument that Summit’s painted lanes are already “one of the better bike routes in Saint Paul” reflects only the perspective of cyclists brave and experienced enough to ride side by side with cars between a stripe of paint and the constant threat of opening car doors. Drivers, lawn service companies, and delivery trucks absolutely do not respect the painted lines. Nor is the paint any help whatsoever in winter.

      Just last month, I got rear ended by a car while waiting at a stop sign on my bike within the painted bike lane on Western Avenue. Luckily, I wasn’t hurt but my bike sustained significant damage. Paint is meaningless.

      We need bike infrastructure that’s safe for all ages. For all levels of experience. All year long. All the time.

      1. Bethany Gladhill

        Dan, I thought you had your accident on Saint Anthony and Western but this makes it sound like it was on Summit. Can you please clarify?

  6. Bill LindekeBill Lindeke

    Another thing is that there’s a lot of misinformation about the safety of two-way bike trails. When badly designed, they’re dangerous; but the more contemporary implementation, like Como Avenue in Saint Paul or 40th Street and Blaisdell Avenues in Minneapolis, work just fine. As with many bike designs, the key is adequate protection, which is increasingly becoming the default in St. Paul and elsewhere. I think that, if given the opportunity, the City would do a great job making sure this is a safe design, and the concerns I’ve seen are overblown.

    Summit Avenue is a street for everyone in the city, and indeed all over the region, not just the people who have Summit Avenue addresses.

    1. David Brauer

      Actually 40th street’s 2-way has some problems, chief among them cars turning east from Lyndale to 40th that think the white bollards separate car lanes. We’ve repeatedly had cars in the 2-way bike lane (which is wide enough for cars without the yellow bike-lane divider bollards, which are SORELY needed here. For some reason the city also put in too few white bollards … a secondary problem. Hopefully some day it will be curb-protected, a la Blaisdell. I’m not a fan of 2-ways, having been hit in one (not 40th) & believe the only work if separated by something other than bollards (as Summit appears to be).

  7. Gary Todd

    Thanks, Ben, for your post on the city’s plans for a Regional Bike Trail on Summit Ave — because as you learned, it’s a very complex issue with competing elements that can be difficult to prioritize.

    Save Our Street is not going to get into a point-counterpoint argument with you here in the comments. You have the sources you cite, over half of which are from the city, which not surprisingly support the city’s plans. We also have a number of citations, from a wide range of sources, that lead us to a different set of conclusions.

    What we do object to is you accusing the members of the committee “acting in bad faith.” Like you, we care about our city. We just have different viewpoints.

    Our members continue to reach out to those with opposing views for constructive, in-person dialogue and to seek additional information; for example, lacking tree preservation information by the city, we have arranged for a presentation by a third-party arborist. I know that at least one member of the committee has reached out to you for a 1:1 conversation. I hope you take her up on this.

    Sincerely, Gary Todd, SOS Chair

    1. Tom Quinn

      I’m often taken aback by a too often dismissive or combative tone in some Streets comments as well. My comment above, which was partly based on 50 years for bicycle commuting and riding on Saint Paul streets, was earnest and meant to be useful. To immediately label it as “disingenuous” is unnecessarily offensive and polarizing.

      1. Dan MarshallDan Marshall

        Tom, it’s also polarizing for someone with decades of urban biking experience to say Summit is fine as is. I’ve spoken to dozens of people who simply do not feel safe riding on Summit. Most parents, myself included, are not comfortable allowing their kids to bike on Summit. Nor is the status quo safe in the winter. The fact that the current design may be acceptable to experienced cyclists like you or I is not enough.

        I urge you to think beyond your own experience and to set aside notions of vehicular cycling and consider what design works best for the greatest number of people.

    2. Ben Swanson-HysellBen Swanson-Hysell Post author

      Hi Gary, thanks for your response.

      The Save Our Street webpage and supporting documentation is rife with false data and fear mongering language. In this case, it’s not just different viewpoints, it’s factual integrity.

      You and I have both spent significantly more time researching this than the general public – honesty and clarity matter.

      I know we both care deeply about our city. I hope you realize the city officials do as well. They are experts in transportation planning, engineering, safety, and forestry. I trust them.

      I am in agreement with you that the city should provide detailed tree information. I do not want a massive tree removal. The city has emphasized they will protect trees. I hope that new information is discussed honestly and transparently as it comes in.

      I am scheduling a conversation with that member of your committee and look forward to our discussion.


    3. Matt Healy

      Thanks for this comment Gary and for signing your name to it — to be candid, one thing that’s bothered me about communications I’ve seen from SOS (e.g. editorials in the Villager) is that they’re not signed by an author, which for me makes it feel less like neighbors who care about our city but have diverse viewpoints, and more like an opaque and uniform group with one dogmatic point of view. I’m sure in reality, members of the committee differ on some of the issues.

      While I appreciate your call for constructive dialogue, I do want to gently push back on the question of bad-faith arguments. There are a few themes I’ve seen in the SOS talking points that do strike me as intentional obfuscation, whether you want to call that acting in bad faith or not:

      You (the committee) continue to cite a cost for the addition of separated bike lanes that’s based on an entirely new project, not relative to the cost of reconstructing the road. You use specific numbers from the Saint Paul Bike Plan, and ignore the adjacent sentence from that plan that says “the cost of constructing an off-street path adjacent to a roadway is significantly reduced when the adjacent roadway is also being reconstructed”. I’m sure members of the committee are aware of this distinction, but the way you overstate the cost hasn’t changed.
      You continue to refer to the IIHS study, but ignore the caveat mentioned in that study that separated bike lanes are more likely to be installed in areas that are already inherently more dangerous, and that “results could in part reflect high-risk characteristics in the locations of protected bike lanes unrelated to their physical separation.” You also focus solely on the two-way path design proposal and ignore the option for separated one-way paths in that segment.
      Broadly, the name “Save Our Street” implies an existential threat. My read of the committee’s website is that your preference is a reconstruction of the roadway and no other changes. Okay fine, but is it really fair to say that anything beyond that is a threat of destruction the Summit needs saving from? There’s a semantic discussion in the comments above about “Our” and whether you mean that to be exclusive or inclusive, but I think it’s the “Save” that irks me more.

      As you say, there are many elements to this plan, many viewpoints, and room for more than a two-sided argument — I hope we can embrace the nuances and find a plan that serves everyone.

  8. Al DavisonAl Davison

    I’m curious if they go ahead with a two-way trail east of Lexington (even though I prefer the one-way trail option), especially with how the layout would look at the intersections with Lexington and Selby. While there’s also a lot of focus on bikes, I think this would end up as a mixed-use trail since some runners already jog along the existing bike lanes. I notice similar behavior on many bike-designated trails, such as on MRB when it’s busy.

    I assume this might be partly caused by Summit’s sidewalks west of Dale often being too narrow for the type of pedestrian traffic it gets (but are very unlikely to be widened), so I think this could be a benefit for not just those biking. I don’t mind this though as someone that does bike on Summit, as it would be safer to pass runners with more space compared to a narrow painted bike lane. If the trail is well-maintained in the winter, I could see it being used year-round by both runners and cyclists. I already have to pay attention for two-way traffic on the sidewalk when I am turning on or off of Summit, so a trail doesn’t bother me as a driver who lives a block away from Summit.

    There’s a lot of talk about tree loss, but I think the biggest conflict on the design east of Lexington will be tied to potential parking losses. If trees get removed, its likely due to reconstructing existing utilities (e.g. stormwater or sewer pipes). I am worried about that because I hope we don’t see most safety improvements get tabled as a result of mitigating potential parking issues. Even if we keep the road design as-is, I at least hope at the stoplights that no turn on red restrictions and leading pedestrian intervals/LPIs are implemented to improve safety for those walking and biking. As a driver, I prefer not turning on red anyways because it leads to more issues in busy urban areas. I sometimes drive on Grand instead of Summit anyways as it’s easier to take left turns and to see people trying to cross the street on foot due to the bumpouts.

    1. Sherry Booker

      Al — I agree, sidewalks west of Dale are too narrow! Thank you for bringing it up. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the wide sidewalks east of Dale. Great for little ones biking with walking parents, great for folks walking with friends, great for runners passing, great for dog walking, great for everyone.

      And while I agree with you that I think the two-way trail east of Lex, if built, would end up being mixed use, I disagree that it would good. I think it would be disastrous. In Minneapolis, a bicyclists killed a pedestrian on a shared trail. With the high numbers of pedestrians and bikers on Summit, a shared 10 foot wide, two-way path would be crazy dangerous–though I will admit that your’e right, if the path is built and is well maintained in winter, the runners and dog walkers will use it… and bike/ped collisions will follow.

      So– Let’s get the city to (1) widen the sidewalks Dale to Lexington (to match those east of Dale–but of course working with forestry and respecting the trees)! (2) So let’s get the city to declare Summit sidewalk a trail and maintain them! There are MORE people who use Summit as pedestrians than bikers and (3) improve the bike lanes.

      As a driver and biker, I am “bothered” by a two-way trail. I, too, watch for pedestrians in both direction when I turn on Summit, but there is a speed factor in my ability to look for them. If the “trail” eliminates the bike lanes (it will) and puts the e-bikes and 20 mph bikers (it will) on the “sidewalk” — And what does it matter what you or I think? The data–and there is data — shows that there are more collisions with two way bike facilities adjacent to two-way roadways.

      1. Al DavisonAl Davison

        While I do wish that the narrow stretches of sidewalks would be able to get widened, that would lead to a higher risk of tree removal than them using the existing right of way between the curbs to make safety improvements. Many of the curb ramps would have to be rebuilt as well, even though many were rebuilt recently and match the narrow sidewalk widths. As a result, that makes it less feasible to convert the existing sidewalk as a trail as result.

        While I prefer the one-way bike trail option (as it seems more consistent), I’m open to seeing a design plan for a two-way layout, since at the moment what I can visualize in my mind may look the completely different to what the City draws out on a design plan. The current presentation slides don’t show how intersections would look under a specific proposal for instance (I might just have not researched well enough though). A lot of people (including myself) have jumped to various conclusions with the project, though so much of it is still up in the air at this point.

        Ultimately it does matter what we think regardless of our disagreements, as there is mixed feelings on this proposed change to Summit. Any sort of proposed infrastructure project typically leads to contrasting opinions given it’s impact, but it’s better to acknowledge that and iron it out. Realistically the final approved plan will be the result of various compromises based on feedback made through the City’s communication channels (e.g. their website, community meetings, etc.).

  9. Al DavisonAl Davison

    This morning I biked on Summit on my way to pick up takeout for breakfast, and I encountered a couple runners in the bike lane. I think another factor that pushes people to running in the bike lanes is likely the properties that have water sprinklers spraying water on the sidewalk. I run into that issue sometimes when walking (usually occurs in the morning).

    People driving also seem more likely to open their vehicle doors or pull in front of me when I’m on my bike compared to when I’m driving my Camry. I encountered similar behavior when I was working as a fieldworker that handled traffic counting back in 2018; drivers tended to pay more attention to the van I parked on the shoulder (even though I keep it away from the main driving lanes), yet had no issue getting too close to me when I was on foot installing traffic counters.

    Luckily traffic was light this morning so riding in the main traffic lane to pass obstructions wasn’t an issue, but these types of situations are why I get hesitant biking on Summit during busier times. A trail is bound to have similar obstructions from time to time, but I generally don’t run into issues passing on trails as long as there’s the space for it. I usually only average 10-15 mph on my bike, so faster cyclists would also be able to pass me more safely as well on a trail.

    I see they are preparing for the mill and overlay when I was traveling westward past Lexington, so I ended up biking on Grand for a few blocks. I assume most of the barriers proposed along Summit between the trail(s) and driving lanes would look more like what’s on the “interim” trail for 10th St downtown vs. the trails along Como or Wheelock.

  10. Yakesha Taylor


    You accuse the SOS folks of being less than fully transparent, but then do the same thing.

    “There will not be a mass removal of trees.”
    Depends on the plan — there might be. See Cleveland Avenue. See all the missing mature trees and the dead baby trees (City didn’t water the saplings they planted?) on Johnson Parkway where the trail went in. And, more importantly — we don’t have to choose between trees and bikes. We have great bike lanes. We have a great trees. Just fix the surface. Win, win.

    “You will still be able to park on the street.”
    Misleading. A 50% ++ loss of street parking is a big deal. I live in an apartment on Summit. Your lack of concern for those of us who needs cars to work but don’t have garages is just unfair. I bike a lot, but that mans I park more. I need somewhere to park my car, and I need to be able to to park in a reasonable distance of my home for safety reasons — any women reading will instantly understand the importance of this–and just plan livability. Having to park two blocks away, walk that far with groceries or after dark will make me move.

    “The bike trail will be safer and more accessible.”
    Full disagreement. I’ve biked on Wheelock, It is scary with all the driveways, and Summit has even more and busier cross streets. Passing on narrow trails scary/impossible if there are more than three bikers, which thankfully (for passing) there often aren’t on Wheelock, but on Summit there are bike pelotons and 400+ bikers per day. And e-bikes. You say you average 10-15 — you should not be on a trial! Bike trails have a 10 mph limit.

    “Do you prefer to drive? Great, let’s move the bikes out of your way!”
    First, driving is not always a preference (Ahem, ableist. Ahem, male privilege.) Second, bikes in the bike lane are not in the way. They have a bike lane. You know what I would really like (as a biker a driver pedestrian and resident)? Slower cars. Let’s slow down the cars by narrowing the driving lanes and adding a buffer stripe on Summit east of Lexington. I saw the City presentation in which they proposed to widen the traffic lanes, ot make this poorly thought out “trail”–trails are for park. Bike lanes are for streets.

    I am dismayed by the lack of detail and full information in your post, You accuse others of “disinformation” — but that’s the pot calling the kettle black.

    1. Al DavisonAl Davison

      Regarding my comment about my average speed being around 10-15 mph, I am generally closer to riding at 10 mph than at 15 (at least based off my smartwatch’s collected data). A 10 mph speed limit is generally more known on trails owned by Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board or on other trails that provide speed limit signage, but I’m fine if there happens to be a speed limit if Summit ends up being classified as a formal trail.

      Regarding adding a painted buffer, one of the current issues along Summit is how the existing bike lanes act as an extension of the vehicle lanes. A lot of St Paul’s bike lanes face similar issues, which can lead to dangerous situations at intersections. I had encountered an example of this during a walk this evening, where a couple drivers used the bike lane to illegally pass two cars that had their left blinker on (to turn onto Ramsey) at the Summit & Ramsey St. intersection. A painted buffered lane wouldn’t provide much traffic calming.since it would maintain the existing right of way for vehicular traffic. While I prefer a one-way trail vs. a two-way trail option, I am open to seeing how a two-way trail layout would look if the City provides a design plan of the layout.

      While I do like the buffered bike lanes west of Lexington, I generally lean towards a preference towards infrastructure that physically separates bikes from cars (when it’s possible). Otherwise when parts of the parking lane(s) are vacant along with the bike lanes, they end up being used for illegal passing methods. While I think the City will end up going back to the drawing board a few times before a final design is chosen, I think some form of barrier-protected infrastructure would provide more safety along with narrowing the overall space allocated for vehicular traffic.

    2. Alec Huynh

      I agree quite a bit with your suggestion to narrow traffic lanes, traffic calming I feel is often a common sense solution in these situations.

      You mentioned something that seemed pretty concerning – conflation biking with ableism and male privelege. Let’s not forget that our current state of affairs – the fact that “driving is not always a preference” was based upon 1950s white, male domination. Yes, currently, biking is primarily able male oriented, perhaps that’s because able men have far more confidence riding in unsafe conditions, ie dangerous painted bike lanes. Ride on the greenway and you’ll see plenty of women and motor wheelchairs. Biking IS dangerous, biking IS currently unequally enjoyed by able men, that’s why we should make it MORE accessible so that bike mobility isn’t sexist and ableist. Not to mention that increasing cyclists takes cars off roads, meaning that people who need to drive have less traffic.

      https://www.startribune.com/women-bike-more-in-minneapolis/125420298/ :
      “…31 and 45 percent of bicyclists are women, compared to a national average of 26.4 percent. ”

      “The reason that seems to get greatest number of nods is safety. Women just are not as comfortable in traffic. And that also fits with what’s going on here. Compared to other metro areas Minneapolis and St. Paul have by far the greatest number of commuting bike routes that are separate from roads. ”

      Also, you say “…trails are for park. Bike lanes are for streets.” Have you been in downtown Minneapolis? There are essentially the equivalent of “trails” that are raised up and separate from traffic. As somebody who has been hit by multiple cars over the years, those separate “trails” are incredible, and I vastly prefer to ride on them.

      If you really are against bike trails, why not narrow the currently existing street, have a lane for parking, then have a buffer plus bike lane on the other side? Put up some bollards and voila, protected bike lane – of course, snow becomes a major issue as compared to a trail.

  11. Ed SteinhauerEd Steinhauer

    Ben, thank you for this piece. I have found.biking along Summit Avenue to be very jarring, as the “SOS” lawn signs frame cyclists like me as an interloper and an enemy. The campaign has strained friendships, including at church, of which there are many (and also Mount Zion Temple, naturally) in the Summit corridor. You hit the main points, and offer great data. We (proponents of cycling improvements, reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and alternatives to cars) can’t let that campaign go uncontested. Courage!

  12. Alec Huynh

    I’m an engineer – so I naturally want to consider potential design solutions. Has a design running the bikeway down the center been considered? They did this in Barcelona and it seemed successful with several users along it.

    I can imagine putting a trail down the middle acting as a median could be quite successful. As well, I’m sure a trail could be developed avoiding trees where green medians are already in place.


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