Trailnet is always working to move St. Louis forward as a place where everyone can travel easily by foot or by bicycle. That’s why we’re thrilled to take our work to the next level with our new bold vision: connecting St. Louis with a network of protected bikeways and walkways on our streets. This project will transform our wonderful city, connecting neighborhoods, cultural districts, and business centers via east-west and north-south routes.
Connecting St. Louis with on-street protected bikeways and walkways will impact the region by bolstering economic development and increasing wellness and health advocacy, all while elevating equity and access. This has worked for Indianapolis and we know it can work for St. Louis.
The return on investment for the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, the model guiding Trailnet through this endeavor, has been astounding. From 2008 to 2014, property assessments within 500 feet of the trail increased 148%, adding $1 billion to the tax rolls. Indianapolis’ strategy of using on-street right-of-way was completed in just seven years.
We are excited to move ahead as we perfect our preliminary routes, meet with project partners, and seek community engagement, input, and support. Please stay tuned as we advance this plan.
“We believe high quality walking and bicycling networks on our streets will attract and retain talent, strengthen our economy, and connect people to the places they love,” said Ralph Pfremmer, executive director of Trailnet. “Our new vision will solidify St. Louis as one of the best cities for walking and biking and will have a positive impact on everyone in St. Louis.”
Where are they now: Q & A with our former Director of Strategic Initiatives Jennifer Allen
We’re happy to report that Trailnet’s former Director of Strategic Initiatives, Jennifer Allen, is settled in New York and loving it! In late July, we gave Jennifer a fond farewell as she moved east to apply her talent and expertise in Brooklyn. Ioby, a crowd-resourcing platform for citizen-led, neighbor-funded projects is lucky to have Jennifer as their Leader Success Strategist. What a title!
In her seven years at Trailnet, Jennifer acted as a formative member of our team, pioneering many of the initiatives, programs, and values we are furthering today. She worked persistently for equitable biking and walking access.
Jennifer is responsible for bringing the Calm Streets/Neighborhood Greenways concept to St. Louis and getting buy-in from city officials to reduce speeding and increase safety on residential streets.
In 2013, Jennifer managed and helped produce Trailnet’s guide to creating high-quality, low-stress transportation infrastructure in St. Louis. The guide, “Streets for Everyone,” helped set the vision for calm streets and the greater gravois project.
Among her many accomplishments, Jennifer managed Trailnet’s campaign to expose the pitfalls of the proposed South County Connector—a massive thoroughfare that would have made it difficult for people walking and biking to get around. By planning public events and unpacking a dense environmental impact statement on the project, Jennifer helped bring the dialogue to a broad audience and leveraged support for preventing its construction.
Jennifer also produced and managed several conferences and brought national and regional speakers to St. Louis that helped set a vision for what livability looks like.
Read on for a question and answer update on what Jennifer is up to now!
Trailnet: What does your work entail at ioby? Can you tell us about the impact you’re having?
Jennifer: At ioby I am part of a team of people who are essentially one-on-one coaches for people doing crowdfunding campaigns on our platform. From start to finish, we help our ioby leaders with their fundraising strategy. For example, we dispel myths about crowdfunding at the start. Most people don’t know that the foundation of a successful crowdfunding campaign is the in-person ask.
We often divvy up the ioby leaders we work with according to our expertise so I get to work with projects related to my areas of expertise, this includes projects related to bicycle and pedestrian issues. It’s really great to get to encourage people as they raise funds for their important work. The technical assistance we provide is really what sets us apart from other crowdfunding platforms.
T: How has working at Trailnet affected your career?
J: I’m just over the 10-year mark of my full-time working life, and I was at Trailnet for seven of those years. If I had to name the season of my time working at Trailnet I would probably call it the leadership season. It was a great experience to work up to the director level from an entry-level position. I learned how to lead teams in an environment that had lots of space for my creativity.
T: Can you tell us about NYC’s awesome bike infrastructure and how it’s affecting your life?
J: I have been mostly a pedestrian here in NYC and I imagine it will remain that way. I have always loved taking the train and bus and will probably do so most of the time. However, I am looking forward to biking to work this fall.
The number of streets in the five boroughs is just enormous so providing good access to high quality bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure for everyone is a challenge, but it’s great that creating the infrastructure is a priority and there’s been a lot of progress.
Benton Park West utilizes traffic calming lending library
Trailnet has created a traffic calming lending library. That means anyone can rent out equipment for creating pop-up traffic calming demonstrations to show the community what it looks like when streets are designed to slow traffic. On October 2, the Benton Park Neighborhood Association hosted one of these demonstrations with our materials.
The demonstration consisted of two mini-roundabouts and curb extensions with a temporary crosswalk. Although the weather was cloudy, local politicians turned out for the event and showed interest in reviewing the neighborhood feedback.
“Trailnet’s traffic calming lending library allowed our neighborhood to turn safety concerns into visible solutions for the future,” said BJ Kraiberg, vice president of the Benton Park Neighborhood Association. “Our pop-up demonstration facilitated a necessary dialogue between neighbors, elected officials, and city employees, which would not have been possible without the thoughtful guidance of Trailnet staff and the Slow Your Street How-To Guide. Turning to Trailnet has proven to be an indispensable first step as we work towards building a safer, more walkable neighborhood and city.”
The BPNA said their next steps are to collect survey data, speed data, and stop compliance data on a non-demonstration day, then compare notes with data taken day-of.
For more information on Trailnet’s traffic calming lending library, contact Grace Kyung at email@example.com.
Trailnet staff recently traveled to Vancouver, British Columbia, where they presented at Pro Walk/Pro Bike/Pro Place, an international conference put on by People for Public Spaces. Below is a Q&A about what Bicycle and Pedestrian Planner Grace Kyung, Director of Policy and Strategy Marielle Brown, and with Trailnet Walk Bike Ambassador Deidre Brown experienced abroad.
What was the best idea you saw in Vancouver, B.C.?
Marielle) Grace and I stayed in a neighborhood north of downtown that had installed a lot of street closures in the 1970s to address crime. As crime went down, they had kept the closures for vehicles, but opened the streets for people by creating Calm Streets, where people can walk and bike safely with very low traffic. On some streets, the closures had been turned into small parks with benches and plants where neighbors could gather. This kept the street grid open for people on foot and on bike and encouraged local walking and biking trips. It made me think of how we can turn our street closures into assets for creating more people-friendly neighborhoods.
Grace) During my visit, one of the best ideas that I saw was how well connected the bicycle transportation network was throughout the city. I was impressed that Vancouver, B.C. focused on creating a strong network throughout the whole city to help people reach their destinations by bike. The city took it a step further because they analyze how many of their facilities are designed for people of all ages and abilities. The below image captures how well the city is focused on this initiative.
Photo credit – City of Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada
Further, the city’s approach to build protected bicycle lanes also showed the positive benefits to increase the number of women on bikes. From 2010 to 2015, the number of women biking grew to 40% after a protected bike lane was built.
Deidre) What I like most about Vancouver, is how the city makes cyclists and pedestrians a priority. They performed “road diets” throughout the city in order to slow traffic and allow room for protected bike lanes. I love their use of bike traffic signals, which are like the ones we use for cars. These signals work in conjunction with the regular traffic signals and the pedestrian cross walk signals to protect pedestrians and cyclists. It was such a joy to see so many pedestrians and cyclists take advantage of what the city has provided them. Vancouver is a city that truly puts pedestrians and cyclists first, before cars.
Which community and which projects inspired you most?
M) The energy and ambition of Twin Cities Greenways in Minneapolis is amazing. They are a group of advocates and residents working together to create a car-free corridor for biking and walking in north Minneapolis, where there are no abandoned rails to convert to greenways. The project has been resident-driven from the start and right now they are doing demonstrations to test out different concepts. The greenway will not only improve the quality of life for residents, it will also change what we consider possible for street design in the U.S.
The City of Calgary’s year-long demonstration of a network of protected bikeways was very inspiring. The City decided to test out the idea of protected bikeways by creating a basic network of them downtown using paint, bollards, and other temporary changes. The test has been very successful and Calgary will be working on making the protected bikeways permanent. By demonstrating several connected routes at once, Calgary ensured that their protected bikeways would be useful and highly used.
G) The session that inspired me the most during the conference was “Overcoming Barriers to Bicycling in Communities of Color” by Charles Brown and Robert Schneider. One of the most important takeaways for me was that planners and other professions must acknowledge it is okay to not have all the answers, but important to ask the right questions without making assumptions. Also, we should be giving people of color the microphone and paying them for their time to participate rather than asking them to only volunteer.
D) While in Vancouver, I had an opportunity to take a walking tour of Olympic Village, which is where the athletes stayed during the 2010 Winter Olympics. When Olympic Village was designed, it was designed for everyone. There are a mixture of high-end condominiums and affordable housing, which was a requirement when developing the Village.
There were two things that really impressed me with Olympic Village: One was its mixed-use buildings and the other was how accessible it is for people with mobility challenges. A lot of buildings in Olympic Village were designed as mixed-use buildings with stores and other businesses on street level and apartments on higher levels. It is a self-contained community with everything you need within walking distance of where you live, except a school, which they are in the process of planning.
What is your biggest takeaway from the conference?
M) My biggest takeaway was that St. Louis needs robust public engagement in our land use and transportation decisions. When we allow decisions to be made behind closed doors, we can miss out on important considerations and fail to see new, transformative ideas that can improve the places we live and give us more transportation options. When we work together as a community to address problems and test out solutions, it helps build consensus around projects and get people excited for improving their neighborhoods, rather than being leery of any change.
G) The biggest takeaway from the conference for me was that Trailnet is doing great work, but can continue to improve as leaders in our community. In my role at Trailnet, I focus on creating more livable, vibrant, healthy communities. As a planner, and I would like to expand on this perspective by working with city and community stakeholders to build better cross-sector collaborations. In my role, I need to think about ways I can work to continue to build capacity throughout the city, and find better ways for Trailnet to partner with neighborhoods to form a collective vision.
D) My biggest takeaway was that if we are going to make St. Louis a more livable city, we have to have buy-in from everyone; from the elected officials to the residents. We must involve the people who live, work, play, attend schools; the people who make it a community. It has to be a collaboration. When you include the people of the community, it gives them a sense of ownership, a sense of pride in knowing that they are a part of what is going on in their community and in knowing that their voice matters.
Furthermore, we must change our way of thinking when it comes to planning and designing new communities as well as making changes to existing communities. We must make pedestrians and biyclists a priority over cars.
Bike weeks boot training wheels, teach safe riding skills
Trailnet staff visited Keysor and Robinson elementary schools in Kirkwood to celebrate Bike Week with Kirkwood students. Bike Week is incorporated into physical education classes at local schools and allows kids to get more comfortable on their bicycles. Trailnet staff Taylor March and Cassie Jones spent a week at each school to build confidence and give tips on safe riding. Over 1000 children had the opportunity to get their bike helmets properly fitted and learn some basic skills.
“The purpose of Bike Week is to get more kids riding and feeling confident and competent,” says Taylor, “We focus on helmet safety and physical activity, and getting kids to feel excited about biking.”
Bike Week is funded in part by Great Rivers Greenway through the Gateway Bike Plan. Trailnet partnered with the Kirkwood Police Department and Missouri Department of Transportation. MODOT provides a trailer outfitted with tools, borrow-bikes, and specialized bikes for children with special needs.
Children from kindergarten through fifth grade took part in the program, which has both a classroom and a riding component. In the classroom, students learn how to properly fit a helmet and perform a quick safety check on their bikes. Outside, students begin by riding a cone course where instructors can gauge their riding ability. Students that need more assistance are matched with an instructor, while those that have more practice can help their friends and ride around in a protected area.
This is the fifth year that Trailnet has been to Keysor Elementary School for Bike Week. While most children in kindergarten are still using training wheels, March says that only half of Keysor kindergartners use them. The schools provide bike racks and the encouragement.
“It’s become a part of the culture there,” he adds. “Their brothers and sisters have done it before them. Kids look forward to it and they push each other.”
Not all of the kids have bikes at home or helmets. Bike Week makes bikes available to children who might not otherwise have them and Trailnet gives away helmets. For families that struggle with the cost of purchasing a bike, St. Louis Bicycle Works is a great resource, allowing kids who complete a six-month educational program on safety and bike maintenance to earn a free refurbished bike.
“The biggest thing we hear is that, for most of us, bikes gave us our first sense of freedom,” says Taylor. “By creating a safe environment for kids to ride, through encouragement and fostering, we are equipping kids to make a healthy lifestyle choice for the rest of their lives.”
Taylor says that unlike some organized sports where some people don’t want to participate, all of the kids seems excited about riding their bikes. “There is something intrinsically satisfying about riding a bicycle and it’s true for everyone.”
That excitement, and watching a child ride for the first time without training wheels are the most satisfying part of Bike Week for Taylor. Trailnet will hold its first Bike Week at Froebel Elementary in Dutchtown this month.
Special thanks to Ron Effland of MODOT and Officers Joe and TJ of the Kirkwood Police Department.
Trailnet volunteers rock, and may have counted you in September
Did you happen to walk or bike past a suspicious person with a clipboard in early September? Were they looking at you and fastidiously scribbling mysterious information? Not to worry! That was likely one of our remarkable volunteers recording data on bicycle and pedestrian activity.
On September 13 and 14, Trailnet coordinated 122 volunteers to perform counts at 71 different locations across the City of St. Louis, St. Louis County, and St. Charles County. This year saw a 44 percent increase in volunteer participation, accounting for 244 hours of volunteer service.
A lack of documentation of cyclists and pedestrians makes it difficult to measure the positive benefits of investments in these modes of transportation. The NBPD sets detailed standards and guidelines and provides tools for performing bicycle and pedestrian counts and surveys. This allows for a uniform method of accounting for walkers and cyclists across the country.
Locations for the counts are determined by a collaboration between Trailnet, Great Rivers Greenways (GRG), and the Gateway Bike Plan Working Group. The primary purpose is to find out how many people are walking or biking for transportation, although all pedestrians and cyclists are counted. All counts are performed on streets, even if there is an adjacent trail.
Trailnet compiles the data and shares it with GRG as well as regional governments, planning agencies, and key partners in the Gateway Bike Plan Working Group. The information is used to inform projects and educational efforts. It helps our advocacy in the region by providing data to lobby for better conditions and makes the case for advancing funding in infrastructure by local and national government agencies. We would like to thank all of those who volunteered for their time. Stay tuned for the results!
Ask Gubernatorial Candidates About Transportation Funding
Earlier this year the Missouri General Assembly created the $20 million Missouri Moves Fund. It was an historic first because bicycle and pedestrian projects were finally eligible uses for state transportation funds. Last month, however, Governor Nixon moved to withhold Missouri Moves funds after a series of veto overrides by the legislature created budget shortfall implications.
Gov. Nixon stated the Missouri Moves program was not a solution to a long-term issue of funding the state’s growing transportation needs. Missouri needs stable, long-term, user fee-based transportation funding and Missouri Moves only provided a one-time infusion of general funds. A 21st century transportation system requires state funds for multi-modal uses, not just road projects. As MoDOT explained in the Missouri Moves Frequently Asked Questions, multi-modal transportation helps road users by reducing congestion and demand for car travel on roads and bridges.
Governor Nixon is leaving office soon. The two leading candidates running to replace him need to know that Missourians support funding for walking, bicycling, and transit. Trailnet urges you to contact candidates Chris Kosterand Eric Greitens. Tell them:
State funding for walking, biking and transit is important to you.
Road user-based sources are the most appropriate and stable for the state’s long-term transportation funding needs.
Chris Freeland power cleans his bicycle after completing Trailnet’s Ride the Rivers Century, making everyone else feel extra weak. Way to go, Chris!
Trailnet’s 12 Walk Bike Ambassadors are located throughout the St. Louis region. They help address walking and biking issues in their communities and assist Trailnet in advocacy campaigns and events. We’re excited to tell you about their recent successes!
Chris Freeland has deep roots in the Tower Grove East (TGE) neighborhood of St. Louis. He’s lived there for 16 years, is a past president of the TGE neighborhood association, and has built many productive relationships with elected officials and other TGE neighborhood residents. Tower Grove East is an area where many residents walk, bike and use transit. A passion for bike safety was one of the factors that motivated Chris to apply to Trailnet’s Walk Bike Ambassador program. Chris has increased many TGE residents’ bike safety awareness and bike route IQ by organizing group rides from the neighborhood to the Riverfront Trail and back. He also reached a personal milestone this year by completing his first 100-mile century ride in Trailnet’s Ride the Rivers event. Next year Chris will be designing a community bike ride route for Trailnet to tour libraries of St. Louis, which is a natural for someone who works as a librarian at Washington University! Chris will also work with Trailnet on TGE community outreach when the City completes a design proposal for traffic calming improvements on Louisiana Ave. In his spare time Chris and his husband, also named Chris, are often busy with their soap making business. Their product can be found at a number of local stores in the Tower Grove area, and at various community events.
Woodward Elementary School gets new traffic calming features
In the fall of 2015, the Missouri Chapter of the American Planning Association collaborated with Trailnet, the Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) Partnership, the City of St. Louis, the Missouri Public Health Association, and community residents to tackle the concern of traffic-related deaths by hosting four pop-up traffic calming demonstrations within the City of St. Louis through the Plan4Health program.
Plan4Health connects communities across the country, funding work at the intersection of planning and public health. Anchored by the American Planning Association (APA) and the American Public Health Association (APHA), Plan4Health supports creative partnerships to build sustainable, cross-sector coalitions.
The successful demonstrations implemented by Trailnet showcased proven methods of slowing traffic and increasing safety with traffic calming designs. The demonstrations were used to educate community members, elected officials, and city staff on how we can work together to create safer, more vibrant, and healthier communities. These educational events have the potential to influence policy change for better street design.
Further, the demonstrations help visualize safer streets, which can lead to healthier communities and encourage active lifestyles. They are also an opportunity for the community to come together and start a dialogue on how we can work together to improve our street designs.
Through the positive conversations spurred by the pop-up traffic calming demonstration, Trailnet worked with BJC School Outreach and Youth Development to plan permanent street design changes by Woodward Elementary School with the City of St. Louis. The location was chosen to increase visibility and safety of the children and families crossing the street to travel to and from school on foot. The changes included an updated crosswalk, curb ramps, a bump out, and stop lines to enhance the crosswalk by the school. The improvements were funded by the Missouri Foundation For Health’s Healthy Schools Healthy Communities program.
Trailnet celebrated the permanent changes at a ribbon-cutting event hosted by the BJC School Outreach and Youth Development staff. The pop-up traffic calming demonstrations led to positive change within the community in under one year! This achievement would not have happened without the support of all those that have been involved with the project. Trailnet is excited to continue to promote safer street designs by using pop-up traffic calming demonstrations.
To learn more about the program please contact Trailnet at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Counters needed to help St. Louis become an even better place to walk and ride!
We need YOU to help us count people walking and biking at locations throughout St. Louis City, St. Louis County, and St. Charles County. Volunteers commit to using a pen and paper (we’ll email you a standard counting form) to count at one street location from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, September 13, Wednesday, September 14, or both days. Only one person is needed per count location, but feel free to bring a friend, family member, neighbor, or pet for counting company. In case of rain, counts will be done the following week on September 20 and 21.
As we continue to collect bicycle and pedestrian data each year, we are able to show changes in how people walk and bike around the St. Louis region. Last year, volunteers counted more than 9,000 people walking and biking at 60 locations!
Volunteers are especially needed to count in St. Charles County, North St. Louis County, Mid St. Louis County, South St. Louis County and North St. Louis City. Counts in all areas of the St. Louis region help to paint a more complete picture of where people are using walking and biking routes and where better planning for new routes and encouragement and education programs are needed. Click here to see a map of all count locations.
Will you consider counting in an area you have never been before? Bring a lawn chair and get comfortable as you help make St. Louis an even better place to walk and bicycle!
Once you have completed the count, scan or take a picture of the form with your phone and email your completed counting form to email@example.com, or drop the paper copy in the mail to Trailnet Attn: Taylor 411 North 10th Street., Suite 202 St. Louis, MO 63101.
All volunteers who submit a completed counting form are eligible to win an Apple iPad!
Optional volunteer training will be held on September 7, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., at Trailnet’s office (411 North 10th Street., Suite 202 St. Louis, MO 63101). To sign up as a counting volunteer, click here.