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St. Paul Bicycling Missed Connections, Ranking Urban Planning

Stp New Raymond Ave Bridge.

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

I have been living in the Hamline-Midway district in St. Paul for several years and have got to know the good and bad bike facilities very well. Overall, the neighborhood is roughly on par with most of St. Paul and may offer slightly better connections to other parts of the city, although we don’t lack outstanding facilities like the Wheelock Parkway or the Pelham Bikeway.

As in the rest of St. Paul, there are some confusing gaps on the bike paths in and around Hamline-Midway. I have always found that cycle path gaps represent a significant physical and mental barrier that prevents more people from riding. For example, if you drive west along Como Ave and click on Snelling, your bike lane ends and the speed limit increases – not exactly a situation where you feel safe and welcome.

I’m sure most or all of them have some history behind them, but I’m not trying to process this again, although all the insights people could have are of course of interest! Above all, I wanted to think about how easy it could be to close these gaps and how useful these connections would be.

Therefore, I added a scale from 1 to 5 for everyone to simplify both the bridging of the gap and the meaning of the gap. (1 = easiest / most important).

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

Griggs Street – from Minnehaha to Pierce Butler

This picture shows the Griggs bike path coming to an end

The Griggs Cycle Path ends where it crosses another gap, the missing center of Minnehaha.

  • 1 – ease
  • 5 – importance

This piece is oddly missing on Griggs Bike Boulevard (which is pretty good by bike boulevard standards), though its continuation would be linked to Griggs Park and the shoulder bike paths on Pierce Butler. In a way, this gap currently seems to be just an oversight, and frankly, although it would be psychologically nice to continue all the way (Google Maps even shows it), the practical meaning is pretty minor because it is more or less is the same as most of the route from Minnehaha to Summit.

Simply remove the “Bikeway Ends” sign and add a few sharrows. Maybe make a roundabout at Griggs and Englewood. Sidewalk extensions would also be nice as they end up north of Hubbard and make it more difficult to go to dominoes than it needs to be (maybe that’s for the better).

Minnehaha Avenue – from Lexington to Hamline

Minnehaha

Looking east from Griggs St. towards the bike path gap between Hamline and Lexington.

  • 3 – ease
  • 2 – importance

This gap is very noticeable and a large part of the reason why I often skip driving to the west of Lexington in Minnehaha (poor road conditions for this route and often fast-moving drivers are different). These are the only major east-west lanes in this part of the city, and having a large gap is pretty unfortunate. It’s not too bad to drive west as there is no parking on the north side of the road and the lane is fairly wide (plenty of space to just graze the lane?), But traffic on Minnehaha is generally fairly fast and it goes uphill towards Griggs.

Some parking spaces may need to be removed to achieve this. I think it’s a pretty important section that needs to be filled to allow for a more continuous bike route through Frogtown and Hamline-Midway.

Hamline Avenue – from Minnehaha to Pierce Butler

Bicycle gap 1

about Google Maps.

  • 3 – ease
  • 3 – importance

As with Griggs Bike Boulevard, this seems to be a gap that is just behind the time it was filled. It could be a bit difficult since some parking lots are likely to be removed, but they are largely unused and it would be a useful void to connect Charles and Minnehaha facilities with Pierce Butler.

Lexington Parkway – from Minnehaha to University

Bicycle gap 2

about Google Maps.

  • 3 – ease
  • 2 – importance

This would be a great continuation of the existing Lexington side road from Como Park to Minnehaha. Relatively high ease ratings are given for a separate side walk since parking doesn’t have to be removed (apparently the biggest obstacle for any bike project) and mostly only the equivalent of widening the existing sidewalk is required. And although it wouldn’t actually connect to a bike path other than Charles Bike Boulevard, it would connect to the Green Line stop at the university and in Lexington, which would be a great last mile option.

Raymond Avenue – from Myrtle to University

Bicycle gap 3

about Google Maps.

  • 2 – lightness
  • 3 – importance

It is puzzling that this gap from a block exists at all (I assume again that parking is to blame). They have the beautiful facilities on Pelham and Myrtle and the lanes north of the university on either side of Raymond. For this one-block stretch, there is a southbound bike path and only Sharrows to the north. Please fix it.

Connection from Raymond to Transitway

Raymond Transitway

So close yet so far. Only 30 feet on a grassy hill separate Raymond’s access to the transitway.

  • 4 – lightness
  • 1 – meaning

I suspect that a lot of factors play a role here, whereby UofMN, railways, city and district can have a say and there is no physically easy way to connect them. But you can dream! And, of course, based on the wish lines that are pretty visible on the hill behind the Tibetan American Foundation, some people made the connection informally themselves.

St. Paul did a great job with the transit underpass along Raymond (see above), but with only detours through the neighborhood or along Energy Park Dr. to officially establish a connection between Raymond and the Transitway, it is given the strong Use a really missed transitway opportunity. Hopefully the special path along Como will largely close this gap for cyclists to the east, but it’s annoyingly impractical to travel west on the transit road.

Como Avenue – from transitway to snelling

Como 35

If you head west on Como, once you’ve reached snelling, the bike trails end and the speed limit increases – perfect conditions for someone on a bike to feel unsafe and undesirable.

  • 1 – ease
  • 1 – meaning

In my opinion, this is the worst cycle path gap in this part of St. Paul. This route already has a high number of cyclists (I see cyclists most often in St. Paul all year round), but you have the double stroke of the cycle paths that ends when the speed limit increases from 30 to 35 miles per hour. With the four lanes and light traffic on such a wide road, drivers usually give you space, but I keep looking over my shoulder on this route and it feels really unsafe.

While I’m sure there are other State Fair-related reasons for this current facility, it’s ridiculous that four lanes with (almost never used) parking spaces are allowed on this route. It should be super easy and it would definitely be important to close this gap. As with the missing connection above, a dedicated side-way along Como should hopefully fix most of this problem.

St. Anthony Avenue – from Dewey to Prior

Bicycle gap 4

about Google Maps.

  • 4 – lightness
  • 2 – importance

While the new St. Anthony Bikeway is fantastic, the first two blocks are sucking east of Prior. If you drive east, you are driving in a narrow lane against oncoming traffic. While they have dedicated space, they don’t feel safe. If you drive west, you have just finished driving in a great facility and will immediately be thrown back into fast traffic and poor road surface.

I get it. It is a narrow route and would either require the removal of parking spaces or an expensive remodeling of the street in order to extend it into the adjacent space (if this is even possible with the nearby railroad line). However, this route may interfere with an otherwise great facility that would help cyclists get via Aldine towards Allianz Field and north towards Hamline-Midway.

Pascal Street – Marshall to Concordia

Bicycle gap 5

about Google Maps.

  • 2 – lightness
  • 3 – importance

Another small but significant gap. The city installed beautiful new buffered lanes along Pascal near the stadium, which makes cycling more comfortable there (although it is too often blocked with illegally parked cars), but does not connect it to the lanes on Marshall Avenue. Yes, Pascal is narrower there, but it is a bad gap that hinders bicycle access to the stadium and beyond from the south.

Como Boulevard – east side two blocks from Nagasaki to Wheelock

Bicycle gap 6

about Google Maps.

  • 1 – ease
  • 2 – importance

Another small but significant gap, at least psychologically. While there are usually few problems in taking the lane for these two blocks, it is such a strange and unfortunate gap between the extensive Como bike paths and the excellent Wheelock Parkway path. It was apparently scheduled to be repaired last summer, but it never happened, although apparently preparatory work has recently been done to finalize it.

Lexington Parkway – from Montana to Larpenteur

Lexington

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

  • 4 – lightness
  • 2 – importance

If you look at a map of St. Paul, there are few bike connections to northern suburbs (you can think of Trout Brook, Gateway, and Bruce Vento). This route is no exception. While you have a side path (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, except on the very narrow shoulder or in traffic, or one long detour into quieter side streets. It’s a narrow stretch, so it’s not an easy nut to crack, but it’s an unfortunate gap that hinders bike access from the north to Como Park.

Bonus selection – the entire Midway industrial zone

Bicycle gap 7

about Google Maps.

This largely inaccessible maze limits bicycle access to major breweries like Urban Growler, Bang, Dual Citizen, and Lake Monster, not to mention that the most direct route to Minneapolis is from most of the northern part of St. Paul (please expand the greenway). While you can zigzag through here (which I do a lot) and it’s generally pretty quiet, between big rigs, enough other traffic, and poor road conditions, it’s not the most comfortable route.

Bike path ends

After another gap in Minnehaha alleys was closed, it took six months for various district and city officials to be contacted before the “end” part of this sign was finally removed.

Overall, St. Paul has been doing a good job lately to expand its bike network, especially after the recent polls to add a path along Ayd Mill Road and expand the Capital City Bikeway, which addresses the upgrades of the side paths along Como, Johnson and Mounds Park will join. However, there are still many significant gaps in the current network, and while expansion is a must so that more people feel safe while driving and can expand transportation options, closing some of these gaps would also make a great contribution to connecting an often quite fragmented system are currently experiencing a problem that persists across the city, especially for the downtown area of ​​the island.

Once these gaps are closed, we can of course spend the next six months removing the “Bike Lane Ends” signs.

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