Bike lanes: coming to an East Side street near you


The City of St. Paul is planning to add bike lanes to Stillwater Avenue following the resurfacing of the street late this summer or fall. Bike lanes will also be added to Hazel Street to provide a connection to the Furness Parkway trail. Stillwater Avenue and Hazel Street will have marked bike lanes and parking on one side of the street will be removed. On the connecting routes of Ruth Street, Algonquin and Case avenues, shared lane markings will be added with no loss of parking. courtesy of the City of St. Paul

The city of St. Paul is continuing to expand bike infrastructure and this time it’s in the greater East Side, specifically in the Beaver Lake neighborhoods.

St. Paul is planning to resurface Stillwater Avenue between McKnight Road and Hazel Street either later this summer or this fall. During that process, it’s proposing to paint bike lanes on both sides of the street.

To add the bike lanes, according to city plans, on-street parking on one side of the road will be removed, with the city recommending parking be removed from the south side of the street.

The street is 44 feet wide. The plan is to create two bike lanes, each one at 7 feet wide. The remaining parking lane would be 8 feet wide and the two traffic lanes would each be 11 feet wide. 

The goal is to provide a direct route to Beaver Lake. In addition to the bike lanes being painted on Stillwater Avenue, shared lane markings will be painted onto Ruth Street, Algonquin and Case avenues, to connect to proposed bike lanes on Hazel Street. No parking will be lost on Ruth Street, Algonquin or Case avenues.

Similar to Stillwater Avenue, parking would be removed from one side of Hazel Street, from Case to Mechanic avenues to provide room for two, 7-foot-wide bike lanes.

Stillwater Avenue has an average daily traffic volume of up to 4,400 vehicles per day, according to city plans, while Hazel Street has an average daily traffic volume of about 900 vehicles. The other, more residential streets that will have shared-lane markings, have considerably lower traffic volumes.

The overall goal is to connect Stillwater Avenue to the Furness Parkway bike trail, creating the beginnings of a bike network in the greater East Side neighborhoods.

The addition of bike lanes to Stillwater Avenue and Hazel Street is included in the St. Paul Bike Plan, a part of the city’s comprehensive plan that guides the development of the city for the next 20 years.

According to District 2 Community Council Executive Director Chuck Repke, it’s a long time coming.

“The reason why we don’t have bike trails here, [the city] tells us is because we don’t have bikers. Well, we don’t have bikers because we don’t have bike trails. It goes hand in hand,” Repke said.

He said the community council board has worked for years to improve bike infrastructure in the far northeastern corner of the city. 

“This is an area that has limited amounts of bike trails and we have horrid bus service,” Repke said. “This becomes a neighborhood that’s totally automobile dependent because you can’t do anything.”

He said it took over 30 years just to get the Furness Parkway biking and walking trails done. 

“Ultimately, to develop more bike riders in this neighborhood, first you need some of the pleasure routes, and then get more of the commuter routes,” Repke said. He added the hope is that the Stillwater Avenue route, which will connect to Beaver Lake, will encourage families to bike together.

While the board of directors hasn’t formally endorsed the bike lanes, he said the board was generally “receptive” to the project, explaining that the potential link up between Furness and Stillwater was the most significant aspect to the board.

He said most neighborhood concerns have been around the loss of parking and the council is hoping the city will consider removing parking from the north side of the street, where there are fewer homes.

While the city already held a community meeting on June 27, planners are still seeking feedback from residents near the proposed bike lanes. 

Send your comments and thoughts to project manager Luke Hanson at the Department of Public Works via email at luke.hanson@ci.stpaul.mn.us, or call 651-266-6146.

 

Marjorie Otto can be reached at 651-748-7816 or at eastside@lillienews.com. Follow her on Twitter at @EastSideM_Otto


 

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