A decade in the making, this North-South corridor in South St. Louis is undergoing transformations that could change the way St. Louis streets are designed and improved in the interests of vulnerable road users.
2013 – 2014: Project Background
In 2013, Trailnet and our partners in the City of St. Louis received an EPA grant to educate and engage the St. Louis Community about traffic calming.
Traffic Calming – Traffic calming consists of physical design and other measures put in place on existing roads to reduce vehicle speeds and improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists. 1
From 2013 – 2014, Trailnet helped to educate more than 1,200 residents in Dutchtown, Forest Park Southeast, and North City through mapping, community meetings and neighborhood outreach.
The communities we worked with became excited about increasing pedestrian and cyclist safety by transforming neighborhood streets into what were then referred to as neighborhood greenways and bicycle boulevards, now known locally as Calm Streets.
Calm Streets – A Calm Street is a residential street transformed to reduce speeding and provide safety for everyone traveling there. Using traffic calming features such as speed humps and curb extensions, Calm Streets create an environment where people drive the speed limit and therefore preserve the safety of people walking and biking. They also incorporate green infrastructure to mitigate stormwater issues and address environmental concerns like the urban heat island effect.
2015: A Formative Trip to Portland
In 2015, Trailnet secured a second round of EPA grant funding, which was used to fly a group of project partners, city officials and residents to Portland, Oregon, where they took inspiration from the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s Neighborhood Greenways Program.
Full of ideas and bolstered by concrete evidence of the plausibility and effectiveness of neighborhood-, and city-wide traffic calming projects, the team returned to St. Louis to choose a location for a pilot project.
At the time, Trailnet was working with Froebel Elementary School in the Dutchtown Neighborhood on creating safe routes to school for their students. Through that project, Trailnet had already established residents’ desires for safer streets in their neighborhoods and begun to build political willingness to act in the Dutchtown Community—which has the highest concentration of school-aged children in the City of St. Louis.
With that groundwork already done in the Dutchtown community, Louisiana Avenue was chosen as the pilot site for the City of St. Louis’ Calm Streets Concept. The rationale: Louisiana was an ideal North-South connection, parallel to the City’s highest crash corridor (Grand Blvd.) and adjacent to many parks, schools, small businesses and residential streets. Thus began the process of planning, designing and constructing what would become the Louisiana Avenue Calm Street.
2016 – 2023: Pop-ups, Planning and Construction
In November 2016, Trailnet hosted a traffic calming demonstration (check out the video and flyer!) on Louisiana Avenue next to Marquette Park to demonstrate what a Calm Street could look like on the corridor. During the demonstration, people driving slowed down by over 10 miles per hour. Ten miles per hour is the difference between someone struck by a car having a 5% chance of dying (with the concept installed) or having a 45% chance of dying (prior street layout).
In 2017, the City of St. Louis submitted an application for federal funding, and the Louisiana Avenue Calm Street Project was chosen as the number one funding priority that year by the East-West Gateway Council of Governments.
Over the next five years, the City of St. Louis, its project partners and contractors jumped many hurdles on the way to creating a more streamlined process for building future Calm Streets in the City. The plan went for design in 2018, with construction beginning in 2021.
In spring 2023, construction was finished on Phase 1 of the Louisiana Calm Street Project. The first phase features 1.1-miles of assorted traffic calming measures (speed humps, mini traffic circles, high visibility crosswalks, bump-outs, rain gardens, etc.), from Gravois to Meramec.
Phase 2 will extend the current Louisiana Avenue Calm Street South to Carondelet Park. Phase 2 is currently in design.
A third and final phase will extend North to Tower Grove Park and complete the North-South connection between two of our City’s largest and most-visited parks.
The goals of the Louisiana Avenue Calm Street Project are many:
To reduce speeds and increase safety for all road users,
To foster a sense of safety in the neighborhoods, schools and parks adjacent to the corridor,
To provide an alternative North-South connection in South City parallel to one of our most dangerous streets,
To encourage healthy, active living,
To test various, modern best practices for transportation engineering and traffic calming,
To develop a streamlined process for calming a network of streets across the City of St. Louis…
The finished vision for Louisiana is a safe > 3-mile corridor that connects thousands of people to the places that they live, work and play.
Phase 1 is completed, but this project still needs public support to be fully realized!
If you live in the neighborhoods that have been or will be touched by the Louisiana Avenue Calm Street, express your support to the City for safer streets. If you have feedback based on your experience of the corridor, reach out to your alderperson.
This pilot project will ultimately be a success if it paves the way for effective improvements to our built environment that save and better the lives of our neighbors! As one project partner from the City said at a recent presentation: “Maybe every street should be a Calm Street.”
“For example, vertical deflections (speed humps, speed tables, and raised intersections), horizontal shifts, and roadway narrowing are intended to reduce speed and enhance the street environment for non-motorists. Closures that obstruct traffic movements in one or more directions, such as median barriers, are intended to reduce cut-through traffic. Traffic calming measures can be implemented at an intersection, street, neighborhood, or area-wide level,” according to the US Dept. of Transportation. ↩︎
Trailnet and our partners strongly recommend that St. Louis County officials avoid taking steps in the wrong direction in 2023. Instead, we encourage the County to work with us to develop strategies that keep the safety and interests of vulnerable road users at the forefront.
Louisiana Avenue is a busy residential street that runs along several south city parks and connects to a variety of local businesses and neighborhood schools. It is also a pilot site for the City of St. Louis’ Calm Streets Concept, an initiative funded by the Environmental Protection Agency to create a network of Calm Streets in the city. Calm Streets are residential streets where the use of traffic calming features, such as curb extensions and speed humps, are used to reduce vehicle speeds and make the street safer for people walking, biking and driving.
The block of Louisiana between Osage and Gasconade Streets was the site of a Calm Streets pop-up demonstration on Thursday, November 17. Staff members from the St. Louis City Street Department and Trailnet staff and volunteers installed temporary crosswalks, a roundabout, and other items designed to slow traffic speeds. The traffic calming features remained in place throughout the day while driving behaviors were observed and feedback was collected from community members.
Many respondents were enthusiastic about the traffic calming measures and how they would contribute to safety for everyone using the street. One resident acknowledged that we “definitely need something to slow traffic.” Two community members were supportive because “there are lots of kids on this street.” One resident stated that “if you have to put a speed hump every six feet, I’m all for it!”
We look forward to continuing our work with the community, with elected officials and with other project partners to realize the vision of a network of calmer safer residential streets. To read more about Trailnet’s Calm Streets Project, click here.
Dwayne James loves creating opportunities for people to challenge themselves and succeed at things they never thought they could accomplish. As a Ferguson City Council member, he worked closely with Trailnet’s Healthy Active and Vibrant Communities Initiative from 2008- 2013 to develop Live Well Ferguson, which organizes a variety of community events that bring people together for fun and exercise. Seven years ago, Live Well Ferguson organized the first Ferguson Twilight Run, an annual event that now draws up to two thousand participants.
“The first year we thought we might get 50 people to show up—we ended up with 900 people,” Dwayne said. “We get everyone from little kids, to seasoned runners, to those using a cane to walk the 5K. We’re telling people to show up however you are, as long as you do it. It’s not just good for the individuals or families, it’s good for the whole community because the community comes together and shines.”
Other annual events sponsored by Live Well Ferguson include the Twilight Ramble bicycle ride, and Sunday Parkways, an opportunity for residents to walk, bike and play on streets closed to car traffic.
Live Well Ferguson also promotes healthy food choices through Eat Well Ferguson, a program that provides nutritional information at participating local restaurants, and by offering garden plots at three community garden sites. Dwayne worked with several other residents to craft an ordinance creating the community gardens and conveyed his own excitement as a novice gardener.
“We wanted to do something positive with the empty lots that we had around town,” he said. “The great thing about community gardens is that people get out there to work and neighbors meet each other for the first time…they might live four doors apart but never knew each other. I grew my first cucumber – I was so excited! I just wanted to save it, but I had to eat it eventually.”
Another early goal of Live Well Ferguson was to craft Complete Streets legislation for Ferguson. Dwayne spearheaded this effort in 2008, making Ferguson one of the first communities in the region to pass Complete Streets.
“I am a civil engineer, so streets and infrastructure were things that I had in my back pocket,” Dwayne said. “We were already on a path to build a healthier, more active community, and I knew that designing streets that were safe for all users would be a great asset.”
Having served the maximum number of terms on the City Council, Dwayne is no longer a member, but is still an enthusiastic organizer of Live Well events and is also a Board Member of the Ferguson Youth Initiative.
FYI provides Ferguson teens with a welcoming space where they have access to activities, computers, and adult volunteers who provide tutoring. It also coordinates youth programs with other organizations, like the YMCA, Ferguson Parks and Recreation, and local schools and churches. Most importantly, FYI helped to create a Youth Advisory Board. This group of 10 teens provides a youth perspective on city issues, and gives young people a chance to participate in local government. Dwayne emphasizes the value of the Youth Board for the city as well as the teens who serve.
“It allows them to have a voice and empowers them to do things for themselves,” he said. “It also helps city officials understand what is important to our young people and ways that we can all work together to solve problems.”
Having lived in Ferguson for most of his life, Dwayne is familiar with its struggles, but positive about its future.
“We have people moving into the community, businesses that are growing, citizens stepping up to serve on the council,” Dwayne said. “Ferguson youth are doing amazing things. The schools are graduating some spectacular kids. If you don’t know the good and bad aspects of your community, then you’re not involved. I love Ferguson, I love North County, I love St. Louis. I know that there is lots of work to be done and it’s the entire community that makes things happen. There’s the person who steps up to volunteer, the person who comes out to an event and cheers the runners on, or even the resident who says ‘I’m ok with them shutting down my street to hold this event.’ I have faith in my community and know that working together we will continue to make great things happen.”
Host a Bike to Work Day Station
Celebrate the 60th anniversary of Bike to Work Day on Friday, May 20 by hosting a Refueling Station at your workplace. Join Trailnet in counting 500 cyclists throughout the STL area. We will help promote your station and your business!
How it works:
Recruit co-workers to run the station with you.
Decide what “fuel” you will provide. Beverage and food items may be purchased or donated by partner businesses.
Fill out the online Refueling Station form. Trailnet will arrange for delivery of educational materials to be displayed at your station.
Promote Bike to Work Day at your workplace through flyers, employee newsletters, email, and social media.
If your workplace doesn’t have one already, create a team on ShiftYourCommute.com. Celebrate the benefits of biking throughout National Bike Month by logging your car-free miles (biking, walking and using public transit).
Provide support and encouragement for your co-workers leading up to Bike to Work Day. Some ideas include:
Route mapping – provide links or maps in your company newsletter featuring bike-friendly routes; if you are a regular bike commuter, list your favorite streets, shortcuts, and parks to ride through.
Bike mentors – pair novice cyclists with experienced bike commuters who can accompany them on their first ride to work.
Bike trains – identify meeting locations to “pick up” fellow bike commuters; designate an experienced commuter to lead the group from each spot, ending at your workplace’s refueling station.
On Bike to Work Day, track the number of people who visit your station (don’t forget to count yourself and any colleagues who help run the station), and send your final tally to Taylor March at firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday, May 23.
Thank your volunteers, pat yourselves on the back, and start thinking of ideas for next year. Share your success through your company’s social media, employee newsletter, and partners. Share the experience with Trailnet and send any photos or quotes to email@example.com.
Keep those wheels rolling through the cold! Bike, walk, or take transit to work and log your miles on shiftyourcommute.com. The program will keep track of your car-free trips, calories burned, and carbon emissions saved. Commuters who log the most car-free miles during the month of February will be entered to win some rad Trailnet gear.
This year also brings the Winter Limbo competition. Those who log biking commutes on the coldest day(s) of the winter will be entered to win a long sleeve jersey from Retro Image Apparel.
Tell your friends and colleagues and help us build a community around active lifestyles!
Like many local professionals, Adrian Stillman makes frequent trips to other cities in the Midwest. Unlike most business travelers, Adrian makes these visits without getting into a car or walking through an airport. His modes of transportation include his bicycle, Metro bus, MetroLink and Amtrak.
In order to get in better shape and to save money, Adrian sold his car five years ago, bought a used bicycle, and began commuting to his office by bike—a twelve-mile round trip. Never a bicyclist before this, he soon decided to extend his car-free travels beyond St. Louis.
Adrian’s most recent trip took him to Milwaukee in early November. Loaded with a change of clothes and his laptop, he left his house at 4:30 a.m., biked a few blocks to catch an express bus to the Brentwood MetroLink station, rolled his bike onto the Metro and arrived at the Amtrak station in plenty of time for his train’s 6:40 a.m. departure. Adrian estimated door-to-door travel time for his trip to Milwaukee at ten hours. A nonstop flight to Milwaukee from St. Louis takes just over an hour. This begs the obvious question: why does he do it?
“I love being able to explore and appreciate the world as I travel,” Adrian said. “Using my bike and transit, I can relax and enjoy the scenery, look at the interesting architecture and hear the music – I can explore the new city in a way that you just can’t in a car.”
Most importantly, Adrian values the way that his travels allow him to “connect with other people by sharing physical and social space with them.”
Trailnet staff member Ginny McDonald accompanied Stillman on the St. Louis leg of his journey and observed Adrian connecting and conversing with everyone from the bus driver, to other early-morning commuters, to the person who sold him his first cup of coffee at the Amtrak station. Other transit commuters shared the value of time spent together rather than being isolated in a car. Two co-workers who knitted during their bus ride described their commute as “much more relaxing than driving and a lot cheaper than therapy.”
Would Stillman recommend this mode of travel to others?
“It’s very empowering to travel like this, especially to new places,” he said. “We are all good at throwing obstacles in front of ourselves that prevent us from doing new things. It is up to us to overcome those obstacles.”
One of the barriers that Adrian encountered on this trip was having to dismantle and box his bike for the train from Chicago to Milwaukee. Amtrak baggage staff helped him with the transfer.
“Those guys were great,” Adrian said. “Any connection is so valuable, even when you have to ask for help and show that you are a little vulnerable. That’s life.”
Adrian also appreciates the importance of Trailnet’s efforts in helping to break down barriers to biking and using transit in our region.
“They are doing some awesome things for our community,” He said. “Don’t keep it a secret – tell a friend!”
Trailnet moves Calm Streets project forward with study tour
One of the best ways to advocate for better infrastructure is to allow decision-makers to experience best-practice designs first hand. We do live in the Show-Me state after all. Knowing this to be the case, Trailnet took City of St. Louis staff, elected officials, and partners to Portland, Oregon August 17 to 20. The study tour was part of Trailnet’s Calm Streets project—a project with the purpose of promoting the creation of a Calm Street network in the City of St. Louis. Calm streets are residential streetstransformed to reduce speeding and provide safety for everyone traveling there. On calm streets, traffic calming measures are used to reduce the volume and speed of motorized vehicles; increase space for landscaping and managing stormwater; and increase comfort for those walking and biking.
From left to right: Alderman Shane Cohn, Community Liaison Wendy Campbell, City of St. Louis Traffic Commissioner Deanna Venker, community partner Matthew Green of Park Central Development, and Alderman Scott Ogilvie get ready for the trip’s first bike tour of Calm Streets.
For two days, Trailnet’s Director of Strategic Initiatives, Jennifer Allen, led tour participants to meet with City of Portland staff and local organizations to learn about how Portland created successful Calm Streets and other low-stress infrastructure. They biked Calm Streets and protected bike lanes. They learned about the profound impacts rain gardens can have in managing stormwater as part of Calm Street design. They learned new best-practices and discovered new strategies for making a Calm Street network a reality in the City of St. Louis.
From left to right: Community Liaison Ramona Scott, Community Liaison Wendy Campbell, City of Portland Capital Program Manager Dan Layden, community partner Matthew Green of Park Central Development, and community partner Josh Goldman of Urban Strategies.
The tour was profoundly successful. It significantly strengthened the partnerships of those involved and everyone walked away with important realizations and strategies critical to the project’s success. Perhaps most importantly, the group came to understand that creating Calm Streets is really a low-hanging- fruit project that will meet many of the City’s goals, such as building more complete streets and reducing pedestrian injuries and fatalities.
Project partners do a mini-charette with City of Portland staff and the Bicycle Transportation Alliance. City of St. Louis Director of Operations Todd Waelterman, Alderman Shane Cohn, and Board of Public Service Planning and Program Manger John Kohler pictured left to right in back.
One of the tour’s greatest impacts was strengthening relationships with City of Portland staff and providing tools to the City of St. Louis. After the tour, City of St. Louis Traffic Commissioner Deanna Venker, requested Portland’s design specs for traffic-calming design elements used on Portland’s Calm Streets. She, other Streets Department staff, and Aldermen are now working to create a traffic-calming policy for the City of St. Louis to describe permissible traffic-calming designs in the city. This policy is an important step along the way to seeing Calm Streets built with high-quality design.
Aldermen Cara Spencer and Scott Ogilvie check out a world-class protected bike lane
The current phase of The Calm Streets Project includes selecting pilot Calm Streets routes and devising strategies for creating a full network in the future. The Calm Streets Project is funded, in part, by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Trailnet’s Manager of Policy and Advocacy, Rhonda Smythe with Alderman Scott Ogilvie, and Trailnet’s Executive Director, Ralph Pfremmer
An update to St. Louis City’s Complete Streets policy passed on January 30, 2015 with unanimous support from the Board of Aldermen. Every aspect of our lives are impacted by the way our streets are designed and built. The comprehensive and collaborative approach laid out in this bill will have significant impacts on the quality of life for St. Louisans.
Major updates include:
A new framework for collaboration between City departments will be developed. The Departments of Health, Parks and Recreation, and Office of the Disabled will now have a formal seat at the table for the planning and implementation of future transportation projects. This means that air quality, public health, public safety, ADA improvements, and safe connections to major destinations will have a higher priority than in years past.
Street design standards will be updated to reflect the most current best practices, guidelines, and recommendations issued by the USDOT. This means no more bike lanes in gutters and appropriate pedestrian signals!
A targeted, data-driven approach to high crash intersections and corridors with prioritized improvements. Trailnet recently partnered with OpenDataSTL and Walker Hamilton to create an interactive map of bicycle and pedestrian crashes at http://bike-ped.confluencecity.com/. Tools like this enable data-driven decision making.
Performance measures and benchmarks will be identified and assessed annually.
Alderman Ogilvie sponsored this important piece of legislation and continues to be a strong advocate for pedestrians, bicyclists, and people with disabilities. Many partners joined Trailnet in advocating for the Complete Streets update, including Paraquad, American Heart Association, AARP, YMCA, and numerous neighborhood advocates. Our deep and sincere thanks for the valuable work they do to support a more livable St. Louis!
For more information on Complete Streets, click here.
With funding from the Environmental Protection Agency, Trailnet is working with partners to see a Calm Streets network built in the City of St. Louis. Calm Streets are residential streets transformed to reduce speeding and provide safety for everyone traveling there. On Calm Streets, traffic calming measures are used to reduce the volume and speed of motorized vehicles; increase space for landscaping and managing stormwater; and increase comfort for those walking and biking.
There are many benefits to creating Calm Streets.
Calm Streets reduce speeding
By using traffic calming elements such as speed humps, curb extensions, and traffic circles, people travel at slower speeds.
Calm Streets improve safety
The City of St. Louis is now at a five‐year high for traffic deaths. Our high rate of pedestrian injuries and fatalities have made us a Federal Highway Administration pedestrian focus city since 2011. By slowing traffic down we can save lives. With increased “eyes on the street” as a result of increased walking and biking, Calm Streets can help deter criminal activity.
Calm Streets encourage walking and biking
The safety and comfort Calm Streets provide can increase walking and biking, which is good for our health and the environment. Across the country, Calm Streets have encouraged more biking than standard bike lanes. The high degree of safety and comfort they provide can draw in populations that have had historically lower levels of biking, such as youth, the elderly, women, and communities of color.
Calm Streets add beauty and help reduce flooding
Calm Streets often include rain gardens planted with native landscaping that add beauty and help reduce street flooding. (insert photo)Using traffic calming features such as speed humps and curb extensions, we can create Calm Streets where people drive the speed limit and therefore preserve the safety of people walking and biking.
Calm Streets connect us to the places we go and can help strengthen the economy
Because they are on residential streets, Calm Streets make it easier to get to our parks, schools, and other places in our neighborhoods. Studies have shown current and future residents want to walk and bike more. Calm Streets can help retain and attract new residents, thereby strengthening the local economy.
Though all city residents are encouraged to participate in the project’s outreach, during different phases of the project outreach has been focused in three opportunity areas: Opportunity Area #1 (The Ville, Greater Ville, JeffVanderLou, Carr Square), Opportunity Area #2 (Forest Park Southeast), Opportunity Area #3 (Dutchtown). The Calm Streets Project is helping to implement the City of St. Louis’ Sustainability Plan which calls for considering Calm Streets as a means of improving city-wide and neighborhood-scale mobility.
In 2014 Trailnet and partners educated more than 1,200 residents about Calm Streets through community meetings, walks, and outreach. From 2015 – 2016, Trailnet and partners have been working through a strategic work plan for building Calm Streets, beginning with selecting pilot routes.