Midland Boulevard Demonstration Project
Since 2019 Trailnet and St. Louis County have been working to develop the Action Plan for Walking and Biking, a master plan designed to improve safety, connectivity, and accessibility for people walking and biking in St. Louis County. In October 2020 Trailnet and St. Louis County completed an important step in order to receive detailed feedback on one of the numerous recommendations highlighted in the Action Plan for Walking and Biking.
With the implementation of a temporary demonstration project on Midland Boulevard St. Louis County sought to gain additional feedback on the future of walkability and bikeability through the corridor. From October 16th to 21st St. Louis County installed a temporary conventional (or striped) bike lane from Vernon Avenue to Ahern Avenue along Heman Park in University City. The project also included pedestrian enhancements to the crossing at Ahern Avenue. For more information on implementation and planning process, feedback from users, and how you can implement similar projects in your neighborhood continue below!
Why Midland Boulevard?
At the beginning of the Action Plan for Walking and Biking, St. Louis County and its project team highlighted Midland Boulevard as a corridor that needed additional insight on travel patterns and capability for additional improvements. Midland Boulevard is specicial in how numerous municipalities (University City, Vinita Park, Overland, etc.) and everyday destinations (parks, libraries, schools, etc.) lie in close proximity to the roadway. Additionally, Midland is also one of the more popular roads for biking in the area and Heman Park is a popular walking destination in the area. With all of these contributing factors, Midland Boulevard, along Heman Park, became an optimal choice to install a demonstration project.
What is a demonstration and why install one?
Demonstration projects are used as a tool for conveying proposed improvements and gathering public feedback and data by altering a roadway for a temporary period of time. These projects look to change roadway design to impact how road users behave and interact with a corridor or intersection. Collection of traffic data and community feedback during the demonstration project time period is also crucial. The data and feedback collected during this time is used to help inform any decision-making processes surrounding any future improvements made to the project area.
What were the results/findings from the demonstration project?
In an effort to gain additional information on how vehicles and road users would interact with the redesigned road space vehicle speed studies and a short survey was developed. In the vehicle speed study, the demonstration project proved successful in lowering vehicle speeds and the percentage of vehicles traveling at 5 mph or more over the speed limit. Before the demonstration project the average vehicle speed was 34.9 mph (Speed limit along Midland is 35 mph) and 10.7% of cars were traveling at a speed of 40 mph or greater. During the demonstration project’s implementation the average vehicle speed decreased to 34.1 mph and 8.9% of cars were traveling at a speed of 40 mph or greater.
The survey responses also provided feedback that supported the demonstration project. Here are some of the highlights from the survey:
- 12 out of 16 people surveyed disagreed or strongly disagreed that the current conditions (no demonstration project improvements) of Midland Blvd provide a safe environment for biking.
- 13 out of 16 people surveyed agreed or strongly agreed that Midland Boulevard with the demonstration project improvements made the road a safer and more comfortable environment for walking and biking.
- 16 out of 16 people surveyed support a permanent installation of the demonstration project improvements.
- 14 out of 16 people surveyed said they would bike more along the project area if the improvements were made permanent.
How can I do something similar in my neighborhood?
While a full-fledged demonstration project may sound daunting to install, there are ways to try out new bicycle and pedestrian improvements within a community. An important first step is to contact local community leaders, whether that be an alderperson, council member, or city staff member (preferably Public Works or Planning/Development). It’s important to talk with these people as they may have information on if the community has the capability to install demonstration projects on specific roadways.
Assembling a coalition of community members who support an initiative is an important early step to install a demonstration project. Community support is vital for any bicycle or pedestrian project and the best way to build support is bringing together residents, business owners, school officials, and other community members. These coalitions can create a plan for the demonstration project – where will it be, how long will it be up, what materials to use, how will the demonstration project alter the roadway, how will this demonstration project improve current conditions. All of these things are important to think about when developing a project plan.
If you are interested in improving safety in your community, don’t hesitate to reach out to transportation advocacy and planning groups like Trailnet. These organizations are sufficient and experienced in developing plans, talking with city officials, and providing materials for demonstration projects. Trailnet has a lending library of materials that are meant to loan out to communities looking to install demonstrations projects. More information on the lending library is available here.