Trailnet Champion – Bob Lewis
Bob Lewis is Trailnet’s newest board member, but his involvement in helping us build for better walking and biking stretches back more than 20 years. Bob said he hopes to continue to use his expertise in city planning and urban development to advance Trailnet’s vision to build a network of protected bikeways and sidewalks connecting St. Louisans to the places they love.
“I was initially connected with Trailnet in the early days and primarily did pro bono consulting work to help with fundraising 20 years ago,” he said. “I’ve been a bike rider from age seven onward, so I thought, ‘hey, that’s something we need around here, so I got involved’.”
A city planner by education and blood, as well as an urban biker, Bob says he’s particularly intrigued with the planning process for protected bicycle routes. He advised Trailnet in the early phases of its vision for a network of protected bikeways, being one of the first to advise a primary focus on north-south connections. Bob added he’s excited to see the process through and help guide its installation.
“Most of my riding for years has been commuting. From home to my office is seven miles and I get to do that a few days a week,” Bob said. “I’m quite familiar with riding the streets of St. Louis. I’m one who will look out to 2050 and think about where this will lead us.”
St. Louis has a lot more road capacity than it has cars, providing an opportunity to build on-street bicycle infrastructure, Bob said, adding that dropping a lane from a multi-lane street is an easy way to add a bicycle path.
In Bob’s experience, cities with improved bicycle infrastructure also see improvements in general safety across multiple modes of transportation. By putting in more protected bikeways, he said, a developed culture of urban biking will follow, as well as more vibrant neighborhoods.
“What it brings to the city is a lot more active living, but also a lot more housing occupancy in already-developed areas,” Bob said. “St. Louis is a developed city, but we have too much vacant and underutilized real estate. Adapting to a multi-modal transportation culture will encourage redevelopment and building re-occupancy using existing infrastructure without further urban sprawl.”
Though retired, Bob keeps busy both on his bike and through improving access to bicycling in St. Louis. Alongside consulting for Trailnet, Bob worked on the business and citizen committee that helped to develop a strategic plan for bike share in St. Louis. The city of St. Louis is now implementing the plan, he said.
Bob also fills his time with woodworking; fixing cabinets, building furniture, and other projects. He frequently makes runs to the hardware store on his bicycle.
“I’ve always thought of biking as a means to accomplish something else. It’s a means of transportation, not just recreation,” Bob said. “For the most part, I like to squeeze in a ride for utility. I would love to see more people doing the same thing.”