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Trailnet Champion: Erika Enstrom

Meet Erika Enstrom, our first Trailnet Champion of 2020! Erika has been close to the Trailnet community for a long time and recently joined our board.  She’s passionate about improving active transportation in St. Louis for the benefits it provides to the environment and for the physical health of everyone in the region. We’re excited about her community-driven approach to advocating for safer streets for all!

Erika said she believes Trailnet’s Connecting St. Louis Plan will encourage people to more deeply connect to their communities and enable more walking and bicycling in the region. Her passion for safer, more comfortable streets is bolstered by her joy of walking. She prefers exploring the city on foot, she said, because she can easily put her daughter in the stroller and enjoy all the region has to offer.

“One of the biggest barriers to advancing walking and biking in St. Louis is that the city is so spread out and it seems daunting to think that there is the option to walk or bike from where you live to work or to sporting events or other community events,” Erika said. “That’s what makes the Connecting St. Louis plan so great.  It helps bridge the gap between your everyday community and other communities and really demonstrates that biking throughout the city really is possible.”

Erika is ready to push for a paradigm that values the importance, convenience, and benefits of walking and biking. She said that while connecting such a spread-out city is a challenge, another barrier is in changing the mentality of people in our communities.

“People’s immediate thought is to hop into their cars to move from point A to point B,” Erika said. “By adding infrastructure in the communities and making sure that we have advocates in each of those communities to help push the movement, we can help change that mentality.”

When Erika isn’t advocating for better streets for all, she works in public accounting. She spends her spare time running, biking, enjoying good weather, and playing the cello.

“I am super excited about the trajectory that Trailnet is going in and look forward to helping move the organization along in the future,” Erika said.

We’re so happy she’s on our team!

Support Two Acts For Better Walking and Biking

We’d like you to help us ring in the new year by urging our local representatives to support more biking and walking projects. In just two minutes, you can start off 2020 as an advocate!

Trailnet CEO Cindy Mense sent letters to congress last week urging representatives to support and cosponsor two acts. The Complete Streets Act would set aside federal transportation funds for safe street projects and require states and local governments to create design standards that incorporate the needs of all road users when developing infrastructure projects. The Transportation Alternatives Enhancement Act would increase the share of federal funds used on biking and walking networks and allow states and communities to use that money for local bikeways and sidewalk improvements.

We need your help to get broad support for these proposals!
Click here to support the Complete Streets Act.
Click here to support the Transportation Alternatives Enhancement Act.

Moving Toward Better Biking in 2020

We kicked off the new year with a panel discussion led by Trailnet CEO Cindy Mense in conversation with leaders who understand the keys to creating a transportation network that’s fit for all. More than 40 advocates joined us to talk about what a more active transportation system will look like.

Mike Weiss, owner of Big Shark Bicycle Company and Big Shark Events, talked about how safety on the streets impacts bike shops, the people who ride bikes, and how he’s getting kids on bikes. Scott Ogilvie, Transportation Policy Planner with the City of St. Louis, shared what St. Louis is doing to improve safety for people on bikes, including policy updates and the latest on new infrastructure. Ann Falker, BJC, Clinical Nurse Specialist, expert cyclist and daily bike commuter, discussed her experience riding on the streets of St. Louis. Trailnet’s Director of Policy Taylor March talked about the most effective methods for building safer streets and the barriers to funding them.

Safety was the theme of the night, but panelists made clear that with safe streets, come better communities. Ann Falker helped attendees understand that Complete Streets (streets meant for all users) are connected to the overall health of our community. She said Complete Streets keeps families in our cities by giving them places to “walk, hop, skip, and bike” in their neighborhoods.

Scott Ogilvie spoke about the barriers to improving St. Louis streets for all users, noting that while there is a lot more willingness across the region to make streets safer, there are two main hindrances: government fragmentation and the ability to pay for projects.

“The limitation to change is no longer the desire of city departments, it’s funding,” Ogilvie said. “We’re headed in in the right direction.”

Trainet Policy Director Taylor March also spoke about funding for safer streets, noting transportation funding does little to support those who walk and bike. “Only one percent of U.S. Transportation funding goes toward walking and biking,” March said. “But those users experience significant levels of injuries and fatalities.”

Panelists also discussed the divisive Slay Balls that have appeared at city intersections over the past few years. Despite the controversy, studies have shown these barriers have caused a decrease in crashes.

Another controversial subject of the night was red light cameras. On the topic of why cities employ the use of red light cameras, Ogilvie said, “They are ideally used to reduce injuries and fatalities for all users… after red light cameras were overturned by the Missouri Supreme Court, pedestrian fatalities doubled in St Louis.”

Driving laws also came up during the discussion. Panelists agreed Missouri needs laws to prohibit texting and driving. Currently, Missouri is one of only two states that allow texting while driving.

Panelists also talked about how investing in safer streets is an important part of fighting global climate change. Mike Weiss touched on how, outside of catering to those who walk, use mobility devices, or bike, updated infrastructure supports Ebikes and scooters, both of which are increasing in popularity and don’t require the use of a car.

Cindy Mense outlined three key takeaways after moderating the event:

  • St. Louis has momentum and we have potential when we work together to meet the needs of all users
  • We are making progress in streets designs, traffic control measures and attitudes are changing
  • There is legislation at every level that needs your voice- join us and demand safer streets for all

Meet Trailnet’s New Rides Manager, Matt Hartman

Matt has been heavily involved in expanding St. Louis’ bicycle culture for years and we’re so happy he’s the newest member of our team. He has organized rides all over St. Louis that have drawn people from all over the country. He’s also worked at a number of bike shops, even starting his own in the heart of Gravois Park. His attitude toward bicycling and its potential for building community will bring a new energy to our rides and events.

Here’s what Matt has to say about his new role:

I’m thrilled to take the helm as Trailnet’s new Rides Manager. I have a lot of experience producing events on a local and national level. My hope is to get Trailnet’s events on riders’ “bucket lists” across the country. Bicycling in this region is rewarding because of the dynamic neighborhoods and unique buildings. St. Louis is an old city with unparalleled architecture and so many of the fine details of our 100-plus-year-old buildings are better appreciated while riding a bicycle.

I think we can continue to elevate our current events and create new, exciting, experiences that will have national pull. St. Louis is primed to be a city that bicyclists love. I’m ready to draw people from all over to see why this is an awesome place to ride your bike.

I’m excited to advance the St. Louis bicycling community that I’ve helped nurture over the years. When I moved back to St. Louis after graduate school, I didn’t know anyone who rode regularly like I did, so I would literally chase down other bicyclists in the street and introduce myself. I wanted to know more about biking in the city. Thus, SpokedSTL was born. This organization was used as a brand to organize rides within the city. SpokedSTL later morphed into a competitive team racing group at the Penrose Park Velodrome. We were also very active in the early fundraising efforts for resurfacing Penrose.

Around this time, I began working in local bike shops, starting at South Side Cyclery, then Big Shark Bicycle Company. I later opened my own Bike shop on Cherokee Street: Spoked Bikes and Stuff. With Spoked Bikes came Spoked Adventures, which focused on programming multi-day trips including bike-packing, camping, canoeing and climbing. Following the closing of Spoked Bikes, I managed The Cyclery’s service depart in Shiloh, IL.

I was drawn to Trailnet because I believe it’s making a lot of progress for biking and walking in St. Louis. Cycling is such a multi-faceted experience. It benefits the individual by serving as an affordable mode of transportation and a recreational experience that improves health and fitness. It also services the planet by decreasing the number of cars on the road and reduction carbon emissions. I’m excited to help usher in the next era of bicycling in St. Louis.

Stay tuned for our upcoming rides calendar!

Cheers,

Matt

When We Say Everyone, We Mean Everyone

We want an inclusive, vibrant community where biking and walking for transportation is a normal, everyday part of life for as many people as possible.

This is why we advocate for AAA (All Ages and Abilities) when it comes to bike infrastructure. That means our streets are built for the safety and comfort of everyone.

When we say everyone – we mean everyone.

Safety is our top priority. This means our streets should be more than safe, they should feel comfortable.

When we say all ages – we mean ALL ages. If you are old enough to ride a bike and young enough to do so comfortably, you should feel welcome on our streets. This approach is also known as 8-80, meaning a bike lane should be safe and comfortable for an 8-year-old or an 80-year-old.

When we say all abilities – we mean ALL abilities. If it’s your first time on a bike or you haven’t ridden in years, you should feel welcome on our streets. This also goes beyond bikes and should apply to people who use wheelchairs and other mobility aids.

But, our vision of inclusion goes beyond just age and ability. We want a world where the makeup of the people on bikes in our community represents the richness and diversity of our community.

Our streets belong to everyone and they should be built for everyone.

When we say everyone – we mean everyone.

We want to wish everyone a Happy Holiday Season and look forward to seeing you in 2020!

Shared Use Paths Planned for I-270

As apart of the I-270 North Project, the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) has planned for significant bicycle and pedestrian improvements in the form of shared use paths on the I-270 North and South Outer Roads.

A 6-mile stretch of shared-use path will run from N. Lindbergh Blvd (Route 67) to Breezy Point Lane along Dunn Road, while a 4-mile stretch of shared-use path will run from Hanley/Graham Roads to Old Halls Ferry Road along Pershall Road. Connections will also be made across I-270 to connect both shared-use paths. See this map for more details.

The project will look to “maximize reliability and safety while linking communities for all users,” as well as providing walking and biking facilities in an area of the St. Louis Metro region where few facilities exist today.

The shared-use path will provide improved walking and biking conditions between locations like the North County Transit Center, St. Louis Community College Florissant-Valley, McCluer High School, Grandview Plaza Shopping Center, the Christian Hospital, among other commercial, educational, and residential developments.

More information on the I-270 North project can be found at http://www.i270north.org/

Trailnet Champion: Tim Eby

Trailnet is happy to partner with St. Louis Public Radio to merge our goals of informing the public, building St. Louis’ culture, and connecting communities. We’re excited to present St. Louis Public Radio as this month’s Trailnet Champion. Read on for a Q & A with the station’s General Manager Tim Eby about how Trailnet and St. Louis Public Radio are uniting to advance and empower St. Louis.

Trailnet: Trailnet and St. Louis Public Radio have burnished their partnership over the past couple of years. Where do you see the points of connectivity between the two organizations?

Eby: Our two organizations are aligned in so many ways as we seek to nourish the mind, body, and spirit. The audience for St. Louis Public Radio is incredibly active and involved in the community. They love to walk and ride bikes. It’s a near perfect match.

St. Louis Public Radio sponsored Trailnet’s 2019 Community Ride Series and your logo is on their Bike City t-shirts. Why do you want to have your brand associated with Trailnet’s work?

We believe that the association with the Series reflects on our belief that an active, healthy community makes for a stronger region. We help people understand and appreciate the wealth of ideas and cultures in our region and this type of partnership with Trailnet is an ideal match.

Where do you see our audiences overlapping?

I think that it’s almost universal in how our audiences overlap one another. A recent research study found that NPR listeners are 74 times more likely than the general population to bike and 104 times more likely to hike. You can’t get much closer alignment than that!

As you look at the future direction of the station, how does Trailnet’s work to make it safe and easy to bike, walk, and take transit fit in?

One of our key initiatives is to go to where our audience is going so we’re focused on delivering our news and information online, through social media platforms, with podcasts, as well as with broadcast streams. It’s important for us to fit into the mobile lifestyle of active people in the region. We also are looking at a variety of ways that we can help inspire important community conversations and the work that Trailnet does fits well into that initiative.

Trailnet aims to connect people to jobs and cultural centers throughout the region. How does this goal of connectivity align with your mission to inform and provide a deeper understanding and appreciation of events, ideas and cultures for a more inspired and engaged public?

As we look to reach audiences through a variety of channels and platforms, it really is all about connectivity. One of the best ways to achieve this kind of connection is with partnerships with like-minded organizations in the region. We care greatly about the community and seek to make it better by producing journalism and storytelling that connects with audiences.

How do you view the current state of transportation in St. Louis? How might that be impacted by increased accommodations for those who walk, bike, or use transit?

I’m a huge believer in public transportation and will take a bus or a train as often as possible. I also love the many parks and bike trails that we have around the region. We have work to do to ensure that the entire region – wherever the location – has good access to these options. We’re certainly not to that point yet, but I do think the community believes this is important and is working toward bringing equity to those who currently don’t have that much access right now.

How does your geographic location in the Grand Center Arts District- next to the Nine Network and KDHX – put you in a better position to deliver on your mission with engaging content? What does that sense of connection mean?

Being near these public media partners provide us with great opportunities to collaborate. The same is true with many arts organizations here in the District that allow us to [work] together in a variety of ways. I’m also very enthusiastic about how the arts and cultural organizations can further connect with the innovation community at CORTEX to take this idea of creativity to a new level to further develop the region. It’s that kind of connection that really energizes me.

Trailnet’s approach to transportation strives to have a positive impact on more than just walking and bicycling. How do you think increased active transportation access impacts St. Louis in terms of culture, environment, and talent attraction/retention?

From what I know, and I’m not an expert, active transportation access is essential to building a more “whole community” in the St. Louis region. It puts individuals on a more equal playing field, so to speak, to participate the vibrant life of our region. It’s really essential to provide individuals with the mobility they need to thrive economically, socially, and culturally in the region.

So much of your on-air content is about where St. Louis is heading as a region. Transportation is part of that equation. How do you see being able to safely and conveniently move about St. Louis without the need to get in a car as part of the storytelling in We Live Here, St. Louis on the Air, The Story Collider?

Our stories can transport you to a place through the audio portraits that we produce and that, hopefully, inspires listeners (including community, business, and civic leaders) to ensure that we are all connected in the region. One of our commitments is to bring diverse voices into our work. By hearing those who may look like us, and those who don’t, we seek to help our audience understand one another in a more effective way. When we hear stories that might challenge our beliefs, it helps bring us all closer together that, at least I hope, will lead us to finding solutions to the various challenges facing our region – including the challenges that exist in our transportation system and infrastructure.

People First: Language and Understanding

Language matters.  The way we talk about about people, challenges, and solutions shapes how we think. You are a person, so is everyone else. At Trailnet, we encourage everyone to use specific language that puts the person first.

A person who bikes.

A person who walks.

A person who uses a wheelchair.

A person who drives a car.

Putting the term “person” first is a small step to value the person you’re describing as an individual human being more than applying a generic label.

At first this feels clunky. It’s quicker to say “cyclist,” “pedestrian,” or “driver” than it is to say “person who bikes,” “person walking,” or “person who drives.” In the same way it’s easier to think of each of these groups as one big block.

It takes effort and patience to try understanding another person. It’s easy to slap on a label and move on with your day. In moments of stress it’s easy to say: “That jerk driver cut me off,” “that reckless cyclist blew that stop sign.”

Trying to acknowledge the individuality and humanity of the other person is an important step to understand their views and values. That important understanding is what paves the way for collaboration, creative compromise and the solutions we need for the St. Louis community.

This all starts with how we talk, but then goes from there.

At Trailnet, this people-first approach applies to our planning, design and advocacy work. Our streets should be built for – and used by – everyone, not just people driving cars.

This approach also extends beyond our conversations on walking, biking, and using transit. It applies to issues of race, politics, faith, class, health, and more.

People-first language was developed by activists during the HIV/AIDS epidemic and has been promoted by advocacy groups that work to empower marginalized communities including people with disabilities, people with addiction, people experiencing homelessness, and other groups at work to reduce dehumanizing language.

With all this in mind, the labels that we apply to ourselves and the communities we are a part of are all important to our identities. Being a cyclist could be an important part of how you see yourself. Even more; your race, belief background, occupation, gender, sexual orientation, age and many more facets of a complex life shape your personal identity.

Using people-first language doesn’t diminish those parts of an individual’s personal identity. Instead is tries to put their personhood first and foremost.

Changing how we talk about issues is a small, but foundational part of working towards solutions.

We are all people, so let’s put people first.

Trailnet’s 2019 Movers & Shakers Gala Brings Advocates Together

Trailnet Announces Transportation Policies as Priority at Annual Gala

Thanks to everyone who helped us celebrate active transportation at Trailnet’s biggest fundraiser of the year! With your help, we are advancing walking and biking in St. Louis.

Throughout the night, our expert speakers described Trailnet’s heightened priority to increase safety for people who walk, bike, or use public transportation. Scroll down for more information about the event and make sure to check out the slideshow below!

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Trailnet, on Wednesday, November 6, announced its heightened priority to increase safety for people who walk, bike, or use public transportation.

City of St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson said enhanced, multi-modal transportation systems have shown to improve quality of life in cities that have taken steps to prioritize people over cars, adding St. Louis is poised for this type of effort.

“When it’s safe and easy to walk, bike and use public transit, those are great places to live,” Krewson said. “That’s what I want for St. Louis.”

Krewson added making St. Louis streets more accommodating can have a positive ripple effect on the region’s general public health.

“One of the highest transportation priorities that we have is the safety of people walking,” Krewson said.

Scott Ogilvie, Transportation Policy Planner with the City of St. Louis’ Urban Design Agency, was the keynote speaker for the event. Ogilvie spoke about how city streets weren’t always as car centric as they are today, noting there was a time when streets operated more as public spaces.

Ogilvie spoke about the upcoming Louisiana Calm Streets project, which is a direct result of Trailnet’s effort to educate local leaders on enhanced street design that prioritizes people over cars. Ogilvie said the project will use designs that slow down traffic. Part of this strategy uses landscaping to physically separate people from cars.

“One mile of Louisiana Avenue, in the first phase, will be re-envisioned as a slow street where people can be comfortable and safe using the street for more than just transportation,” Ogilvie said. “This project grew directly out of a trip Trailnet organized to Portland for elected officials, residents, and city staff in 2015.”

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page also spoke at the event, describing Trailnet’s involvement in connecting people to the city and county through planning for bicycling and walking infrastructure.

“Decisions we make today have a lasting impact,” Page said. “If we are able to make those decisions in ways that support sustainability efforts for the region, they become an even greater achievement still.”
Ogilvie closed by saying that the pursuit of calmer, safer streets is on everyone.

“My job is to ask for more. But I need that to be all of our jobs,” Ogilvie said. “We all need to ask for more. Walking is essential. To engineer away our ability to walk is to steal away part of our humanity… Number one is slow down the cars. Number two: allocate more space for people-reallocate space away from the automobile and to people. And number three: put things closer together. When things are close together, you decrease the need for transportation in the first place, and make life a lot easier if you don’t, can’t, or don’t feel like using a car.”

Jason Hall, CEO and Co-Founder of Arch to Park, and Justin Kern, a medical researcher at Washington University School of Medicine, served as co-chairs at the Gala. Hall spoke about how proper transportation infrastructure can help St. Louis grow.

“Bike and pedestrian infrastructure like what Trailnet has envisioned is critical to making the City a growing place, a more equitable place, and help those organizations attract the talent they need to be successful,” Hall said.

Trailnet has a 30-year track record of advocating for better walking and bicycling in St. Louis. Trailnet educates civic leaders and public works staff who make decisions about street design and street purpose. The organization helps communities plan safer street networks.

Ride to Unite Brings Together Cyclists of all Ability Levels

Trailnet is honored to have partnered with Ride to Unite in August to promote the message that cycling can be enjoyed by everyone, including people with disabilities. In this annual event, professional and amateur racers enjoy a leisurely ride alongside participants of all ability levels. Check out some of the heartwarming and inspiring photos below.

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