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Missouri 2020 Primary Voter Guide

Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020

St. Louis County Executive & Missouri Senate District 5

Transportation policy and funding impact numerous aspects of life in the St. Louis Region. This voter guide is Trailnet’s effort to educate voters on candidate’s positions on transportation issues in two races St. Louis County Executive and Missouri Senate District 5.

Confirm your polling location, wear a mask, and follow public health rules while going to vote.

Trailnet is a 501(c)(3) charity and does not participate or intervene in any political campaign on the behalf of any candidate for public office, but is permitted to engage in voter education and get-out-the-vote efforts.

 

 

 

News Release: Juneteenth community tour highlights music, history

Juneteenth community tour highlights music, history

ST. LOUIS – Trailnet and 4theVille are hosting a community bike ride and walking tour to celebrate Juneteenth and African American Music Appreciation Month. From June 20 through June 30, the self-guided tour takes participants through Downtown, Midtown and The Ville to explore historically significant sites.

The 2020 Juneteenth Celebration Community Ride, marks the third year of this partnership between Trailnet, 4theVille, and Missouri Historical Society. This year’s event focuses on the past and present of St. Louis’ rich history of African American musicians shaping our national sound. The self-guided tour also features recordings of local musicians paying tribute to the city’s continuing music traditions.

“4theVille is committed to the celebration of local black history through multi-disciplinary arts and tourism. We look forward to our annual Juneteenth partnership with Trailnet and Missouri Historical Society when we explore different elements of the continued black liberation struggle. This year, we are especially proud to support local African American musicians with our story about the St. Louis origins of black music,” Aaron Williams with 4theVille said.

“Trailnet’s community rides are designed to elevate the voices of our community partners and help tell the stories they want to share. We’re grateful to help 4theVille and Missouri Historical Society share these stories of Black creators and their legacy,” Cindy Mense, Trailnet’s CEO said.

Tour Platform

Originally created as a group bike ride, the event was changed to a self-guided tour to allow for social distancing. The event uses a GPS-based scavenger hunt smart-phone app to direct participants to each site, where they’ll be able to listen to original performances by local musicians, learn about Black creators’ history in our region all while biking or walking.

Participants can begin the tour at any of the stops and can complete the tour in any order, with suggested routes taking people on slower, low traffic streets.The app also allows participants to complete the tour at their own pace and over the course of several days.

Partner musicians and organizations

Local musicians were commissioned to record performances for the tour. These musicians include: Scooter Brown, Tre G, Tish Haynes Keys, DJ Nico Marie, Royce Martin, and Wil Robinson.

The 2020 Juneteenth Celebration Community Ride is sponsored by The Missouri Humanities Council. It was made possible through partnership with 4theVille, Missouri Historical Society, GirlTrek, Northside Community Housing, Black Girls Do Bike, and St. Louis Public Radio.

Details

DATE: Saturday, June 20 – Tuesday, June 30

TIME: The tour and app is available throughout the dates

LOCATION: St. Louis City: including Downtown, Midtown, and The Ville

COST: $10, free for Trailnet members

DISTANCE: Approximately 12-14 miles total by bike, with an individual’s flexibility to do less

EVENT PAGE URL: https://trailnet.org/calendar/2020-juneteenth-celebration/

Trailnet is the St. Louis Region’s nonprofit walking, biking and public transit advocacy organization. For more than thirty years, Trailnet has been working within the St. Louis region and across the state to respond to the demand for improved walking and biking networks that attract and retain talent, strengthen our economy, and connect people to the places they love.

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Key transportation reforms in national INVEST act

Proposed legislation in Congress has the potential to transform transportation funding and improve communities’ ability to prioritize walking, biking and public transit. Trailnet joined with Transportation for America and The League of American Bicyclists to support these vital reforms in the INVEST ACT.

We will keep you up to date on ways to help and how to add your voice as this bill advances.

Our letter of support to the leaders of the U.S. House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee details why this legislation is so important:

Trailnet is writing to express our support for the INVEST Act introduced to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure last week. We believe this bill includes many key updates to our country’s outdated transportation policy, and takes many big steps towards aligning our federal funding with the outcomes Americans value. We are proud to support this bill and thank you for your work developing it, and urge you to keep advancing these reforms as the legislation proceeds. This bill is a vital improvement because of targeted changes to improve biking and walking as well as the systematic changes throughout, including:

Transportation Alternatives Program – Increases funds for this program (TAP) impacting the communities we serve. This program provides the bulk of the funding for walking and biking projects in our community and state. We hear from both urban and rural communities that there are not enough funds in this program to fill current needs. This legislation creates more local control and flexibility for local governments to fund these projects while still safeguarding them for appropriate bike, walk and transit projects.

Inclusive public process – Prioritizes equity and environmental justice for all grant programs.

Safety – Requires all states to do a vulnerable user assessment. For states with above average vulnerable road user fatalities and serious injuries, states will be required to spend on bicycle and pedestrian safety.

Complete Streets – Requires US DOT to write model complete streets policies and procedures to be used when building roads with federal dollars, this will help to ensure that when federal dollars are spent, the needs of all users are addressed – not just the individuals within a community that own a car.

Connection to jobs and services – Creates new ways of measuring and ensuring our system connects people to their destinations- especially non-car owning families and residents.

Climate – Includes new programs for states and communities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. States who don’t reduce GHG emissions from transportation will be penalized by requiring them to spend additional funds to reduce GHG.

Trailnet is the St. Louis Region’s nonprofit walking, biking and public transit advocacy organization. We believe everyone should have access to safe low-stress walking and biking connections where we live, work, and play in our communities. For more than thirty years, Trailnet has been working within the St. Louis region and across the state to respond to the demand for improved walking and biking networks that attract and retain talent, strengthen our economy, and connect people to the places they love.

Bikes for Essential Workers: Bike Match

Trailnet is partnering with the national platform Bike Match to connect people who have extra bicycles with essential workers who need them.

If you have an extra bike in working condition to donate or are an essential worker who needs a bike, sign up and we’ll help match you together.

We know how powerful and transformative a bike can be.

Help support the people keeping our community running during the pandemic. A bike can allow them to continue their work without needing to get on a bus or train that may increase their risk of exposure. Whether you have a bike or need a bike, we want to help.

If you have a bike to donate but it’s not ready to ride and needs some work, please consider donating it to our friends at St. Louis BWorks who will refurbish your donated bike.

For more information on Bike Match and how to connect, read the program’s Frequently Asked Questions.

Parklets and Placemaking

The corner of Laclede Avenue and South Vandeventer Avenue will see exciting improvements in pedestrian safety and social engagement–part of a multi-faceted approach planning we like to call placemaking.

Trailnet was awarded funding from AARP this year to establish a parklet kit to be initially placed at the intersection. The parklet kit will also be used in Trailnet’s Traffic Calming Lending Library

In 2019, Trailnet has met with business owners (Kaldi’s, Narwhal’s Crafted, BLK MKT Eats, Regions Bank, Alpha One, and Capstone Development) on the corner of Laclede and Vandeventer to discuss material specifics and recommendations for the parklet’s implementation. Trailnet CEO Cindy Mense presented for the West Pine-Laclede Neighborhood Association and the Central West End Southeast Special Business District. Mense discussed the benefits of parklets and shared conceptual designs of how the parklet space would be utilized.

Along with implementing a parklet, Trailnet has advocated for continental striping and a Leading Pedestrian Interval at the intersection, both crucial bike/pedestrian safety enhancements. With funding assistance from Alderman Joe Roddy, the CWE SE Special Business District, and Saint Louis University, four new continental crosswalks were installed at the intersection of Laclede & Vandeventer in December 2019.

In 2020, Trailnet received $12,000 in funding from the CWE Southeast Special Business District to install this permanent parklet, and will be looking at late summer 2020 as a completion date for this brand new public space.

 

April 22 Crash | Statement

Yesterday’s high-profile video of a crash where a person on a bike was hit by a person driving a car in St. Louis City has received significant attention.

This video is incredibly real, visceral evidence of the broader reality that people who ride or walk in our communities know first hand: that our streets are not as safe as they could or should be and people who drive carelessly continue to threaten other people using our roads.

We’ve decided to not share the video itself out of respect for the person who was hit and the potential effect the traumatic content of the video may have on people who have been the victims of traffic violence or their loved ones.

As in any crash affecting someone walking or biking, we offer our support and assistance to victims of traffic violence, when requested by them or their families.

Should everyone be outraged by this crash? Of course.

Are we outraged? Of course.

We hope to do more than express outrage over this crash.

This also shouldn’t take away from the other recent crashes affecting people walking and on bikes that have received less attention.

We are continuing our work in the community to create an environment where people can bike and walk safely, where the media and police don’t blame victims of traffic violence, where people who drive are trained and responsible, and our streets are designed for the safety of people.

This work is slow and at times frustrating, but we are committed to it and hope everyone following our work is too.

If you want to help, we encourage you to contact your elected officials: city aldermen, county officials, or municipal leaders to ask that more resources be spent on safety improvements for people biking and walking.

Public Spaces and COVID-19

Use our interactive map to report outdoor spaces and routes that don’t allow for safe social distancing or complete this online form.

Due to the circumstances surrounding COVID-19 and stay-at-home orders, St. Louis and cities across the world are witnessing an unprecedented increase in the usage of our parks, trails, and other public spaces. However, even though exercise and outdoor activities have been deemed essential, many of our public spaces don’t provide room for residents to maintain proper social distancing. This has unfortunately led governments to close some beloved public spaces.

To help address this problem many cities, including St. Louis, are closing streets and creating new spaces so people can still be active while maintaining proper social distancing during stay-at-home orders.

Our communities have the opportunity to create more public space for people to safely walk and bike. As advocates for walking, biking, and healthy living across our region, Trailnet is here to help them accomplish that.

Why do we need to convert more of our public space for people?

  • Creating more public space allows people to stay active while maintaining proper social distancing
  • More public space can help to reduce overcrowding on our park, trails, and sidewalks, preventing the need to completely close existing spaces
  • Maintaining social distance on sidewalks, trails, and streets requires expanded sidewalks and new ways of sharing streets and public space.
  • Many communities in St. Louis do not have adequate sidewalks for people to practice safe and proper social distancing
  • Walking in the street is becoming more common as people practice proper social distancing, however, this increases their risk of getting hit by car traffic
  • Families and vulnerable populations are at risk of injury and infection in over-crowded parks and trails
  • People who rely on public transit could have an option to safely bike or walk to their destination, avoid overcrowding, and help prevent exposure.

What can our communities do to provide more public space?

Temporarily close roads in parks to car traffic
This has already been done in several St. Louis City Parks including Tower Grove Park and partially in Forest Park, but if all area parks followed this model, it would allow residents to social distance properly while staying active.

Temporarily close specific roads to non-essential car traffic
Residents who live on the streets, delivery vehicles, and emergency vehicles should all be able to access the temporary closures.

Temporary lane conversions

  • As vehicle travel decreases, this provides an opportunity to temporarily convert car-travel lanes to extended sidewalks or bike lanes to allow more space for social distancing.
  • Provide communication to important community decision makers.
  • If a group of residents or a neighborhood wants to close their street to essential traffic only, community leaders should be accessible and provide an easy and hassle-free system to allow residents to create public space in front of their homes.

What Trailnet is doing to push these ideas forward?

Talking to local leaders about these challenges and opportunities
Trailnet has been communicating with local leaders to present challenges people are facing and exploring solutions to these challenges. We are also providing resources and guidance for communities that want to create more public spaces.

Collecting data on existing conditions
We created an interactive map and form for residents to use – which will identify public spaces seeing the greatest use and overcrowding. This will help identify optimal areas to convert into public spaces.

Gathering partners and recording recommendations
Trailnet and community partners are working together to identify optimal locations to convert into public space based on numerous factors and the data provided by the public.

How can you get involved?

Provide feedback on our interactive map or web-form.

Get educated on ideas and best practices
There are numerous articles and examples of best practices on creating public spaces across numerous countries and cities. Trailnet has been compiling these resources, which you can access here.

Reach out to your local leaders
Contact your local government personally about opportunities to create public spaces in your backyard
Provide them with ideas and solutions on how we can improve conditions during this pandemic

Spring Programming Update

Due to COVID-19, Trailnet is shifting some of our spring and summer programming to new dates and new platforms.  Since we can’t meet in person or hop on our bikes for a group ride, we’ve been coming up with some ways to stay engaged with our community while maintaining physical separation.  Read below for more information on how we are adjusting to the situation.  We’ll update this page as time goes on, so be sure to check back!

 

Trailnet Scavenger Hunts (NEW!) – Get out, get active, and stay healthy: Join Trailnet on their first ever scavenger hunt series!  Our first event will be taking place April 15-19 followed by two May events in honor of National Bike Month.  Check out our event page for more info on how you can participate.

Digital Dust Off (NEW!) – It’s getting warmer, plants are budding, and your bike’s got a flat tire.  It always takes a little effort to get back in the saddle after a cold winter and even more so when you’re doing it alone, but Trailnet’s here to help!  We’ll be hosting some online hangouts to cover a variety of topics from cleaning, to maintenance, to dealing with unpredictable weather and pandemics.  We’ll also cover some of the basics like smart cycling and safe driving practices.  Have any topics in mind?  Email joe@trailnet.org to submit a request. Click here to head over to the event page.

Zwift Group Rides (NEW!): An indoor cycling group ride experience for you to do on your home trainer. Make the most of your quarantine by linking up with friends for a virtual cycling experience. We will be doing two events during National Bike Month, May 7th and May 21st.

Breakfast for Bikers (POSTPONED):  April is here and so is that good biking weather we’ve all been waiting for!  It’s also that time of year when local bike commuters might notice Trailnet’s Breakfast for Bikers program.  Out of necessity, we are postponing our favorite bicycle encouragement program that gives out free coffee and pastries the third Friday of each month to safeguard the health and well-being of commuters and our partners who help make it happen.  But don’t be dismayed – Trailnet is working on other ways to encourage biking! Stay posted for future events that aim to excite and inspire your bike life. You’ll have to bring your own coffee, though. 

Bike Month & National Bike to Work Day (POSTPONED):  Following national and local health guidelines, Trailnet will be postponing our normal programming for Bike Month and National BTWD until Tuesday, September 22.  We will be following the new schedule as announced by the League of American Bicyclists.   As the league states, May is still national Bike Month which means  that Trailnet will be working hard to bring you things to do, on and off your bike.

If you were a participating DIY refueling station or bike home happy hour host in previous years, we invite you to continue your support of National Bike to Work Day.  Click here to learn more about how your business or organization can take part!

Stay Safe, Rediscover, and Reconnect

 

We are excited to see so many people out riding, walking and safely using public spaces. However, fighting the spread of COVID-19 and caring for our neighbors and family is the immediate priority.

As the scope of our day-to-day shrinks and our perspectives shift more tightly in on the immediate community, our individual homes, and families, we’ve seen the need for core transportation increase.

Walking, biking and the use of public green space have become more popular during the pandemic as we saw in all of the State and County parks prior to their closing.

Our biggest hope to see a lasting and positive change after this crisis.

None of this outweighs the enormous impact and tragedy of COVID-19.

In this scary, uncertain time, we hope everyone can:

Stay safe, stay informed and take every step to stay healthy.

Rediscover our streets, sidewalks, and trails as places of refuge and shared value.

Reconnect (virtually) with loved ones, neighbors, and your community.

Thank you to the people working on the front lines of this crisis, our healthcare workers, grocery store and restaurant workers, delivery workers, transit workers, first responders, and everyone continuing to keep our community and nation running.

Please do whatever is within your means to support these and all people affected by this virus.

Most of all, stay safe.

You’re helping build a bike lane: Tower Grove Ave

Renderings from Cortex to Tower Grove Connector (2019)

Your membership supports our work to make St. Louis streets better for biking and walking.

Your support allows our team of committed advocates, planners and educators to engage lawmakers, community members, and partner organizations to build support and excitement for bike infrastructure improvements.

Cortex to Tower Grove Connector

Together with the City of St. Louis and other partners, we’ve developed this $9.3 million project and applied for a $6.5 million federal grant. This combination of public and private dollars would fund a two-way protected bike lane along Tower Grove Ave. and Vandeventer Ave. with additional bike and crosswalk improvements along Tower Grove ave and Sarah.

At every step along the way, our staff has been meeting with city officials, developers, community non-profits, neighborhood associations and other stakeholders. This was only possible through your generosity.

The Cortex to Tower Grove Connector would upgrade one of the busiest bike routes in the city, connect more people to Metro Link and make riding and walking along this route safer for people of all ages and abilities.

This grant is part of the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) program from the US Department of Transportation. This is a competitive grant aimed at reducing traffic congestion and improving environmental air quality. We will likely know this June if this project is recommended for funding with a final grant decision in August.

This started with you and it takes time.

Five years ago we surveyed our members to find out what would make you feel safe and comfortable riding bikes in St. Louis. Overwhelmingly, Trailnet members supported a connected network of protected bike lanes.

This led to the two-year Connecting St. Louis project that engaged 4,000 individuals in our community and 60 partners groups to identify the areas of greatest need for on-street bike improvements. Your support made this process possible.

As a result of all that community input, we published a network of recommended protected bike lanes, bike routes with traffic calming infrastructure and policy recommendations. These route and policy recommendations have been our roadmap for pushing the City and community partners to improve biking and walking infrastructure.

Following this roadmap and the priorities of members like you, we held meetings over the last year-and-a-half with aldermen, the streets department, community members and more to assemble support for these corridors, with Tower Grove Ave. as a key priority.

Design and Tradeoffs

The proposed Cortex to Tower Grove Connector is the result of blending ideal bike infrastructure designs with the real-world restrictions of the space, existing needs and cost.

Currently, Tower Grove Ave (between Tower Grove Park and Vandeventer) has two lanes of car traffic, two painted bike lanes, and two lanes of parking heading north and south.

The proposed design would shift both bike lanes to the west side of the street as a two-way protected bike lane, paralleling the park and continuing north. It would then shift to the east side of the street at the McRee intersection, with special traffic signals, and continue north to Vandeventer. At Vandeveter the protected bike lane would then continue on the east side of Vandevener up to Sarah, where it would shift back to the west side of the road. The route would then continue north, switching to a Calm Streets style treatment, North of Forest Park Parkway.

This two-way protected bike lane creates separate space for people riding bikes from car traffic and people walking on the sidewalk. Along with the physical barrier between bike and car traffic, this project also includes intersection and traffic signal upgrades, accounting for bike traffic, high-visibility crosswalks for people on foot, and a fiber-optic connection between each traffic light, allowing for the signals to be optimized to improve the flow of traffic.

Existing infrastructure, rain-water management, parking, construction costs, building standards, and numerous other competing factors lead to this current design. The two-way protected bike lane was chosen as a compromise between maintaining parking and car traffic lanes along the route. This kind of consensus and user-focused design is only possible when committed advocates like our staff work with engineers, stakeholders and neighbors to balance everyone’s needs while shepherding this project along from its initial conception.

Thank you for enabling us to do this work.

Moving Forward

We are confident that the Cortex to Tower Grove Connector is a strong candidate for federal funding. Following a potential announcement of funding in August, this project would then undergo a professional engineering study designing specific intersection and route improvements tailoring it to the needs of people who bike, walk, use wheelchairs or other mobility devices. This step could take up to a year, followed by another year of environmental review. Barring, potential delays, construction on this project could begin in 2022 or 2023.

This is an undoubtedly long and slow process, as are most infrastructure projects, however we are committed to follow this at every step along the way, ensuring it meets the needs of people of all ages and abilities.

Time is the most important tool to building streets for all people, and while we wish we could snap our fingers and start building, this patient advocacy and accountability are key to building a region where biking and walking are a way of life.

Thank you for your support of Trailnet and our focus on improving walking and biking and getting people moving.