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.
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.
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.
A: 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 cut-through traffic and the volume and speed of motorized vehicles; increase space for landscaping and managing stormwater; and increase comfort for those walking and biking.
Q: Where will Calm Streets be built?
A: The Calm Streets project is a partnership with the City of St. Louis and other partners to see Calm Streets built within the city. The City of St. Louis offers many opportunities for building Calm Streets because of its grid street network. However, other jurisdictions in the region can build Calm Streets.
Calm Streets will be created on streets in the City of St. Louis classified as “local” that are often residential/neighborhood streets. They typically have posted speed limits of 25 mph and less than 2,000 vehicles per day. Calm Streets will not be built on streets that are snow routes; have steep roadway grades of 8% or higher; have a high concentration of busses; or present difficulty for emergency service vehicles.
Q: When will Calm Streets be built?
A: The City of St. Louis has one Calm Street on Des Peres Ave. We do not know when more Calm Streets will be built. In the shorter term the City is working to build pilot Calm Streets. The partnership is working to secure funds to plan a citywide Calm Streets network that would become part of the Bike St. Louis network.
Q: Who will build Calm Streets?
A: Calm Streets will be built on City of St. Louis streets and the City is therefore responsible for construction.
Q: Would a Calm Streets network be separate from the Bike St. Louis network?
A: There is currently one Calm Street, Des Peres Ave., and it is part of the Bike St. Louis network. Future Calm Streets would be added to the Bike St. Louis network.
Q: How will the construction and maintenance costs of Calm Streets be funded?
A: Bikeway construction and maintenance costs are often covered by a variety of funding streams. Calm Streets construction could be funded by federal Transportation Improvement Program grants, one-half cent ward capital funding, or other public/private sources. The Calm Streets Project Committee is working with the City of St. Louis to develop a plan for covering maintenance costs based on best practices from other cities.
Find out more details about The Calm Streets Project here.
With funding from the Norman J. Stupp Foundation, Trailnet partnered with the Dutchtown South Community Corporation for the Dutchtown Better Block on Saturday, September 20. Beautiful blue skies and sunshine welcomed residents of all ages to join a variety of vendors on historic Virginia Avenue.
Up and down the avenue, closed to traffic, residents witnessed a transformation of their neighborhood. The atmosphere was a-buzz with the chatter of residents. Laughing and smiling, residents enjoyed the festive activities, delicious food, and being part of the positive change in their community. With the help of volunteers, Trailnet created a pop-up Calm Street with mock curb extensions, painted crosswalks, and “Sheryl’s” – a female version of sharrows. Eco Constructors donated 240 feet of erosion control material to create the curb extensions.
Tabling on a curb extension that represented what could be a rain garden, Trailnet’s Jennifer Allen discussed our Calm Streets project with residents. Calm Streets are residential streets transformed to reduce speeding and provide safety for everyone traveling there. Presenting a map of the region, Jennifer encouraged residents to map their dream Calm Street – marking their routes and destinations. We were able to connect with residents of all ages and backgrounds in this vibrant community.
Grabbing a paintbrush and a cup of bright green, blue, yellow, or red paint, residents pitched in to help local artist Cbabi Bayoc with an intersection painting at Virginia Avenue and Liberty Street. Another artistic element at the event was a colorful mural at Itaska and Virginia painted by Screwed Arts Collective. Attendees enjoyed the Photo booth Kiosk in front of the mural and resident Andrea Fortson expressed her thanks “The mural is beautiful and it definitely brightens our neighborhood.” For those seeking a creative outlet, the t-shirt design for Dutchtown and graffiti wall with doodles and words of inspiration were of interest. Many attendees also checked out Urban Matter, a unique shop on Virginia Avenue that sells new, old, and handmade items.
The Chess Pocket Park offered up some fun competition between residents of all ages. Children were thrilled to show off their animal, hat, or sword balloons. A few residents added another touch of color planting flower beds all along Virginia Avenue.
As dusk approached, residents turned the lawn into a dance floor, grooving to the Electric Slide and the Cupid Shuffle. Continuing the good vibes, poets took to the stage for spoken word. Children crowded close with their balloons to sit at the poets’ feet. The sun set and attendees unfolded their blankets and brought out their lawn chairs for a family-friendly movie and a pleasant end to a wonderful community event.
Trailnet has always known that Dutchtown is special. Its residents and elected officials have always had a deep love for their neighborhood and have been devoted to its constant improvement. It was wonderful to be part of an event that was such a powerful representation of true community.
Trailnet one of 12 organizations to get 2014 Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem-Solving grant from the EPA
The grant will allow Trailnet to work through critical next steps with the City of St. Louis and other partners to make Calm Streets a reality in St. Louis! Look out for community meetings in October and visit the project page to find out more. Read the press release.
Trailnet exploring idea of pedestrian, bike-friendly greenway system in St. Louis
Last night was the first of a series of kickoff meetings to discuss Trailnet’s Calm Streets St. Louis project.
We had a great turnout, and received some excellent press.
Read the article on STLtoday.com, or read the excerpt below:
By Valerie Schremp Hahn firstname.lastname@example.org 314-340-8246
ST. LOUIS • Imagine a network of pedestrian and bike-friendly greenways in the city of St. Louis, where people feel safe to go outside, get some exercise, and spend time going places and getting to know their neighbors.
Trailnet, a cycling, walking and trail advocacy group, is starting the conversation about creating a neighborhood greenway system in the city. On Wednesday night, it hosted the first of three neighborhood meetings in St. Louis to garner neighborhood interest and get input on how a network might be built.
In short, neighborhood greenways are residential streets transformed to encourage biking and walking – in a low-stress, family-friendly way. Streets might have dedicated bicycle lanes, bicycle lanes buffered by landscaping, dedicated signage, or speed bumps and lowered speed limits to encourage cars to slow down. The greenways would build upon the growing network of bicycle lanes in the city.
The city of Portland is expanding on a network of neighborhood greenways. By 2015, more than 80 percent of all Portland residents will live within half a mile of one.
“We see this as something that could take St. Louis to the next level,” said Jennifer Allen, project manager and Trailnet staffer. The group wants to create a cultural shift where the average person feels safe about biking in the city, she said.
The project is part of the city’s sustainability plan, which calls for considering the greenways to help people get around the city. The project will first focus on the Ville, Greater Ville, JeffVanderLou, and Carr Square neighborhoods in north city and Forest Park Southeast and Dutchtown.
Lance LeComb, spokesman for the Metropolitan Sewer District, said at the meeting that the district hopes to work with Trailnet if the greenways become a reality. “Rainscaping,” or managing rainwater where it falls, can be built into the greenway system and help improve the sewer system overall, he said.
Carl Filler, from the St. Louis City Department of Health, also spoke and pointed out that greenways would promote physical fitness. People who live in walkable neighborhoods are two times as likely to get enough physical exercise than those who do not, he said.
Linda Carter, 66, a retired nurse from the Kingsway West neighborhood, likes the idea of a neighborhood greenway system. It will help the planet and people’s health, she pointed out, and she might be more likely to walk in a green space closer to her house rather than a park she has to drive to. “I would be more interested in walking if I would feel more safe,” she said.
Curtis Royston III, 45, an advocate who runs the St. Louis Major Taylor Bicycle Club, which encourages bicycling among African-American youth, loves the idea of a greenway system. Bicycling is a non-aggressive activity that gives children something to do and brings communities together, he said. “The cycling community here in St. Louis is one of the most open and peaceful groups I’ve been involved in,” he said. “There’s a lot of good that can come out of this.”
There’s no money set aside to build such a project yet, but Trailnet still needs community input to see if people want it and, if so, get funding and form partnerships with other groups to build it, Allen said.
Trailnet will be hosting two more kickoff meetings about the project. The next one is Saturday, May 24 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Thomas Dunn Learning Center, 3113 Gasconade Street. The third is Thursday, May 29 from 6 to 9 p.m. at Joyia Tapas, 4501 Manchester Avenue. For more information, visit trailnet.org.