bike plan
Saint Paul is updating the plan that helps city officials determine where to build new bike lanes and paths.

A proposed update of Saint Paul’s citywide bike plan calls for more separated bikeways, improved winter snowplowing, and completion of the Grand Round and Capital City bikeways. It also recommends using former railroad corridors to add bikeways and providing greater geographic equity in where new biking facilities are located.

The draft plan was released in mid-April. It is the subject of a final round of public comments before it is taken up by the City Council this summer.

Jimmy Shoemaker, a senior planner in the city’s Department of Public Works, calls the draft plan a “significant update” from the current bike plan that was adopted by the council in 2015. Since then, the city has made more than 60 miles of bike improvements. That includes additions to the Capital City Bikeway in downtown and to the Grand Round citywide bike and pedestrian trail system.

The city also continues to add bike lanes when streets are rebuilt or resurfaced. New developments, such as Highland Bridge on the former Ford plant site, and parks projects also provide opportunities to add bike facilities.

“We use the bike plan all of the time as we think about investing in our streets,” Shoemaker said.

Public engagement on updating the bike plan began in 2021, and public comments have been incorporated into the new draft. The city received almost 1,700 survey responses during the first phase of public engagement.

“We use the bike plan all of the time as we think about investing in our streets,” Shoemaker said.

Separation from car traffic is key

A significant focus of the draft plan is to provide more bike facilities that are physically separated from motor vehicle traffic to improve safety. “That was one of the top requests,” Shoemaker said. “The public wants them.”

Bicycles can be separated from car traffic in a variety of ways: by the use of bollards, raised curbs, taller barriers, raised bike lanes or building bike trails beside a street. While those kind of separations are preferred by bicyclists, Shoemaker cautioned they can take longer to get built. There are also potential tradeoffs, such as the loss of on-street parking, boulevard space and trees.

Bicyclists also wanted to see slower traffic speeds on streets where they bike. Other requests were for improved street maintenance, better upkeep of bikeways in the winter, improved bike network connections and more bike parking facilities.

In the current phase of public engagement, Shoemaker said greater efforts are being made to reach out to minority communities, and to the West Side and neighborhoods east of downtown.

Previous routes reviewed

He said every bike route identified in the original bike plan was re-evaluated. Several streets previously identified as candidates for on-street bike lanes or shared facilities are now being suggested for separated lanes.

Local streets recommended for changes include Ford Parkway, Saint Clair and Cleveland avenues. Hamline and Summit avenues are among bike routes identified as priorities, along with Marshall Avenue east of Snelling. Bike facilities along busy University Avenue and West Seventh Street are also being explored.

The recommendation to use former railroad corridors for bikeways could draw on past plans for the Canadian Pacific Railroad spur in Highland Park. They also could include the CP Rail line leading west from Ayd Mill Road to an old rail bridge over the Mississippi River.

The draft plan also calls for removing some bike routes from the original plan because of the close proximity to other routes. Highland Parkway west of Snelling Avenue would be removed, since there are bike lanes two blocks away on Ford Parkway. Fuller Avenue, which as once seen as a potential east-west bike route, was removed because of uncertainties about property acquisition.

For more information and to take a survey on draft plan, see

— Jane McClure


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