Trailnet Champion: Bridget McAndrew
May’s Trailnet Champion is Bridget McAndrew, Clayton alderman and long-time advocate for safer biking and walking. She played a key role in the addition of protected bicycle lanes along one of Clayton’s downtown streets.
Check out this Q&A to learn more about Bridget’s dedication to transportation improvements.
How have you, Clayton, and Trailnet worked together in the past?
We moved to St. Louis about nine years ago and started going to Trailnet-sponsored events soon thereafter. My family enjoys being active outdoors so we are very supportive of an organization that strives to improve walking and biking in our region.
What work have you done, or are currently doing, to advance walking and biking in the region?
Approximately one year ago, I was elected to the Clayton Board of Aldermen. Around this time, the Board began to consider the addition of protected bike lanes along one of our streets in Downtown Clayton. Clayton adopted a Complete Streets Policy in 2012 that mandates we consider pedestrian and bike safety prior to approving new streets projects. After many public meetings and discussions, the Board did decide to add protected bike lanes down Maryland Avenue between Hanley and Forsyth.
Why are you passionate about transportation-related work?
I am concerned about both our environment and the health of our citizens. Multi-modal transportation is good for our world and supports healthier lives. If we can encourage communities to have safer streets, then I am confident that people will be more comfortable biking and walking to their destinations.
What are your thoughts on our Connecting St. Louis plan?
One of the arguments that I advanced in our bike lane discussions was that I wanted our community to be a part of St. Louis bike connections. Downtown Clayton is a very busy place during the weekdays, but I wanted to make sure that we did not remain an island. I wanted bikes to be able to safely travel through Clayton rather than around it. I am also encouraged by the street calming that is prevalent on streets with bike lanes–thus promoting a better pedestrian experience. I’m so excited by Trailnet’s Connecting St. Louis plan. In St. Louis, we are so blessed by so many different neighborhoods. It would be so exciting to have a safe way to connect to all these great places by having protected bikeways and sidewalks.
What are some of the region’s biggest barriers to safer walking and biking? How can we work past them?
One of the biggest barriers I see is psychological. The majority of people in the St. Louis region love their cars and are not particularly open-minded when it comes to other types of transportation. People in cars honk at bikers and race in front of pedestrians who are trying to cross at pedestrian walkways. Pedestrians and bikers should be celebrated and the region needs to learn to be more tolerant of them. With the addition of more safe biking and walking options, I believe this psychological barrier will shift in a more positive direction.
Are you a bicyclist? If so, what keeps you pedaling?
I enjoy biking with my family and also go road biking when I am training for triathlons. Exercise is a huge part of my life and I am grateful for the health and adrenalin benefits that I get from a great bike ride!
In your opinion, what makes a city thrive?
That is a big question! There are many factors that make a city thrive. I think that a motivated, engaged, diverse, and happy citizenry at multiple generations is vital. We moved to Clayton because we wanted to be able to walk and bike to places, live in a safe neighborhood, and send our children to good public schools. We are blessed to have all of those factors in Clayton. Thriving cities provide residents with convenient places to shop, eat, recreate, go to school and work. It goes without saying that thriving cities have strong economies and are looking at ways to attract new residents and new businesses. Lastly, I believe thriving cities benefit hugely from respected cultural institutions likes major universities that offer unique ideas and shared knowledge.
What do you do for fun?
I love to watch my children play sports and get together with our friends and family. We enjoy exploring new restaurants in town and going on bike rides or hikes as a family. I also love to sit on my deck and read a book!
Any final thoughts or words?
As a region, St. Louis is lucky to have an organization like Trailnet working hard to making our communities safer, healthier, and more vibrant. I look forward to seeing how Trailnet will help continue to transform St. Louis as we move into the future!