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Voice Your Support | Cortex to Tower Grove Connector

Act now for safer biking on Tower Grove Ave. Add your voice to those supporting a protected bike lane connecting Tower Grove Park to the Grove and Cortex.

You can help this project by submitting your comments for protected biking and walking infrastructure with the sample email below. The public comment section is open until this Thursday, March 26.

Last month, together with community partners, Trailnet worked with the City of St. Louis to apply for a $6.5 million federal construction grant to build a two-way protected bike lane (two-way cycle track) along Tower Grove Ave. and Vandeventer Ave. with additional bike and crosswalk improvements along Tower Grove Ave. and Sarah Ave., as well as signal optimization to decrease congestion.

This project which grew out of our Connecting St. Louis recommendations: the Cortex to Tower Grove Connector, would upgrade one of the busiest bike routes in the city to a protected bike lane, 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 and managed by the East West Gateway Council of Governments (EWGCOG).

This is a competitive grant aimed at reducing car traffic congestion and improving environmental air quality, and you can help!

Help make this project a reality, add your voice today!

How To Comment:

We’ve included some draft language you can personalize to voice your support.

Follow this link (this doesn’t work in all web browsers). If directed to the EWGCOG site, select [St. Louis City] and [CORTEX-TOWER GROVE CONNECTOR] to submit a comment.

Or

Send an Email to: TIP@ewgateway.org
SUBJECT LINE: Comment on TIP 8218-23, CORTEX-TOWER GROVE CONNECTOR

-Copy and paste this subject line
-Copy, paste, and personalize the draft comments below:

 

Do you live or work in the community where the project is proposed?

I (live/work/travel through) near the Tower Grove Connector project.

Do you support, have concerns about or oppose this project?

I strongly support the Cortex-Tower Grove Connector Project (project number 8218-23)

What are the key reasons for your position?

This project will increase safety for people biking along Tower Grove and Vandeventer by providing physical separation between people biking and people driving. Tower Grove is currently one of the busiest corridors for biking in the City, and could really benefit from increased separation and more defined space for people who bike on this corridor.

The high visibility crosswalks along the corridor and new pedestrian crosswalk signal at Sarah will make it easier and safer for people walking to get across the street.

The traffic signal optimization will help alleviate congestion along the corridor and provide benefits to people who drive along this route, making this a winning project for all users.

This project will help address the poor air quality concerns we have in St. Louis by decreasing congestion through better-coordinated traffic signals (through people idling in cars) and providing people with safe transportation options other than driving a car in accordance with the City of St. Louis’ Sustainability Plan.

Anything else you’d like us to consider or comments you’d like to share about this project?

Name or organization:

Your first and last name

2020 Transportation Survey Results

Click the infographic to expand

During February, Trailnet launched a general transportation survey to gain information on transportation trends and preferences of residents in the St. Louis region. We asked questions about walking and biking infrastructure, policy preferences, personal trends in active living, and other topics.

We want to thank everyone who took the survey in February and gave Trailnet feedback on how we can improve to achieve our mission to make healthy, active, and vibrant communities where walking, biking, and using public transit are a way of life. We are already making tremendous strides this year to improve walking and biking infrastructure and policy with our projects like the Tower Grove Connector, Tucker Blvd planning project, and St. Louis County Action Plan for Walking and Biking.

We’ve compiled some statistics from the survey which can be seen in the infographic to the right. We’ve also compiled some additional statistics, which you can read below.

Transportation Usage and Preference Data
  • 92% of respondents drive a car “daily” or “a few time a week”
  • 50% of respondents bike for fun/fitness “a few times a week”
  • 8% of respondents bike to get to work “daily”
  • 65% of respondents said they would like to walk for fun/fitness more in the next ten years
  • 42% of respondents said they want to more about types of walking and biking infrastructure and the pros/cons of each
Policy Preferences

We asked people about the prioritization of five different transportation policies. Here’s how they ranked (1 being most important, 5 being least important).

  1. Distracted Driving Legislation
  2. 3-foot passing law for people on bikes
  3. Statewide “Stop for Pedestrian” ordinance
  4. Work Zone Mobility Ordinance
  5. Automated Enforcement on red light and speeding violations
Infrastructure Questions

We asked what the minimum level of biking infrastructure people would need to feel safe on a collector road (Geyer or Compton Ave, 25 – 35 mph), 28% of respondents (the highest percentage) preferred an on-street conventional bike lane

When asked about how you would spend $10 million in bike facility improvements in the St. Louis region, here was the breakdown:

  • 47% – 10 miles of protected bike lanes
  • 35% – 75 miles of conventional (un-protected) bike lanes
  • 11% – 400 miles of signalized bike routes (way finding signs and sharrows)
  • 7% – 1.25 of greenways/multi-use paths

 

Tucker Boulevard Improvements Roll Forward

Tucker Boulevard between Chouteau Ave. and Washington Ave. is one step closer to seeing improvements recommended by Trailnet’s Connecting St. Louis Plan. This is thanks to the generous support of members and supporters like you, partners including The City of St. Louis, Downtown STL, People for Bikes, Alderman Jack Coatar, and a number of family foundations who are making this effort possible.

Creating a more people-centered Tucker is a primary recommendation of the Connecting St. Louis Plan. The plan recommends transforming the corridor to provide better downtown access for people on bikes and on foot. It also seeks to add bus stop improvements for the five bus routes on this corridor.

Trailnet funded a preliminary engineering study to bring this project closer to construction. It includes curb protected bike lanes on the West side of the street with floating bus islands, pedestrian refuge islands, crosswalk signal upgrades, and high-visibility crosswalks along the near-mile long section of Tucker.

This will make Tucker a more safe and pleasant place for those not in an automobile. It will also provide a safe and protected way for people on bikes to get over the rail yards to the south. The rail yards have been identified as a stressful and dangerous barrier to people getting into and out of downtown by numerous studies including the Downtown Multi-Modal Plan and Trailnet’s Connecting St. Louis plan. There is More to come, but this corridor is close to being transformed into a safer and more pleasant place for everyone. The next step is fundraising for the 20 percent match construction funds required for the City of St. Louis to apply for Federal Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) funds if they become available later this year. Stay tuned!

Trailnet Champion: Jeff Powell

Jeff Powell has been teaching kids about active transportation for 31 years. Jeff supports Walk/Bike to School days at Fairway Elementary School. Trailnet introduced the Walking School Bus to Fairway Elementary more than 10 years ago and worked with Jeff to help hundreds of kids walk and bike to school, teeing them up for a lifetime of active transportation. Alongside being a P.E. Teacher, Jeff also teaches mountain biking summer camps. Keep reading for a Q & A with Jeff about all his awesome work!

“Being an elementary PE teacher is my passion. Teaching kids to ride is just another avenue to share this passion.”

How did you become connected with Trailnet? 

It was way back in 2004 when our school, Fairway Elementary, had just opened. I met Mandy Brady from Trailnet and learned about the program. Since Fairway Elementary was built in the middle of several neighborhoods, it was the perfect opportunity to teach the kids and families safe routes to school. I talked one of the PTO reps into being the school’s parent/teacher liaison for the event.  Her name is Rebecca Timm and she worked wonders helping get other parents involved. Conveniently, Rebecca is also my sister. She had two kids of her own attending Fairway at the time, easy pickings. Trailnet was able to provide many suggestions, guidelines for the Walking School Bus Champions, and gave us connections to get our school moving forward safely. On October 7, 2005 we held the first Walk/Bike to School Day at Fairway. It still exists through our PTO. The first three years had unexpected attendance, 82%, 89%, and 92%! We still average about 90% each year.

What work have you done, or are currently doing, to advance walking and biking in St. Louis?

As a teacher, I support our PTO by promoting the school’s Walk/Bike to School Day each year in all of our PE classes.  Along with this day, we teach street/neighborhood safety as part of our school’s Health curriculum. This includes walking and biking on the sidewalks, traveling in groups, obeying all traffic signs, stranger safety, and using your senses to be aware of your surroundings.  To encourage the kids to ride and walk to school, I too frequently ride my bike to school since I lived in the same neighborhood. They get a kick of how I push a button, the doors open, and I ride down the hall right to the gym office.

Here in St. Louis I am a member of GORC, Gateway Off-Road Cyclists.  Through them I found the chance to support their trail work as they “contribute a great deal of experience in designing safe, sustainable, multi-use trails.”

Can you tell us about your involvement in Bike Camps?

The first mountain club I sponsored was in 1991 at Parkway West High School.  It was called the Parkway Wheels West mountain bike club as we were supported by the Wheels West bicycle shop. We would do rides together and it enabled the high schoolers a chance to try cross country mountain bike racing. In 1995, we took our first guys trip to Crested Butte Colorado.  I’m still friends with several of them to this day. I have been teaching kids to mountain bike for well over 11 years starting with the district’s Community Education program. Being an elementary PE teacher is my passion. Teaching kids to ride is just another avenue to share this passion. The interest in this type of class has grown immensely over the years beyond that one annual summer camp.  What started with three elementary kids and one PE teacher has become Wheels UP, LLC.  Now with Cody Jones, we have instructed hundreds of young riders to discover the pure joy of mountain biking. Over the past 2 years this has come to include adults of all ages too. Our Youth camps are tailored out of the foundation of BICP based skills and lessons. We specifically cater our lessons to be safe while pushing skill progressions to help each rider achieve the soundest fundamental riding base. We offer different level rides to accommodate from a 1st time off-road rider to an experienced advanced skill clinics. We ride bikes, have a blast, learn bike-handling skills, and most importantly learn to be safe on a bike. You can find out more at WheelsUpmtb.com or follow us on Facebook.

Can you tell us about the Walking School Bus and the PTO at your school?

We call it “Walk/Bike to School Day.”  Each year, our PTO sets this up as an all school function.  It normally occurs on or near the International Walk to School date.  As the flyer reads, “The idea is for students, parents, and friends to walk to school together with a purpose – to promote health, safety, physical activity and concern for the environment!”  We also organize a BikeTrain to show how to safely ride bicycles to school. We PE teachers meet the kids and parents to lead them in a really long Bike Train of 30-60 participants.

What do you see as some of St. Louis’ biggest barriers to safer walking and biking?

Having a safe space to ride our bikes without interfering with others or having them risk our safety.  We can work past these barriers by educating local communities on safety from both the cyclist’s and driver’s perspectives.

Do you have a preferred form of active transportation (biking, walking, transit, etc)?

I ride my bike to school most days.  Mainly because it energizes me in a positive direction each day.

What keeps you at it?

Easy, my students.  On the way to school I ride past five bus stops which gives us a chance to smile, say hi, and sometimes ride together.

In your opinion, what makes a city or region thrive?

The ability to find a common thread in the community.  Find that common factor, finance it, build it, and they will come out to enjoy it.  Kind of like that saying, if you build it, they will come.

What do you do for fun?

For fun? Easy answer, ride my bikes and teach kids.  Mainly I stick to mountain biking here in Wildwood all year round.  When we have a snow day at school it’s a play day for me and my Fat Bike.  I really like going on bike trips to Colorado each summer with my buddies and more recently monthly trips to Northwest Arkansas.  When the trails are wet riding the roads of Wildwood and hiking are the go to alternatives. When the weather gets warmer, I like to share the fun by leading weekly rides with kids through Wheels UP.

What do you do for work?

I teach Physical Education and Health in the Rockwood School District.  This is my 27th year in the Rockwood School District, and 31st year in Education.

Any final thoughts or words?

Finding ways to get our kids outside and moving is critical to helping them become healthy, successful adults.  The habits they develop now can and will lead them in a direction conducive to a happy life. Play Hard, Play Often, Be Happy.

Distracted Driving Laws are a Must-Have for Missouri

“It’s completely preventable.”

That’s a quote from MODOT’s Jon Nelson, talking about distracted driving deaths. Nelson was featured in a Post Dispatch story from last January about lawmakers’ efforts to pass a distracted driving ban.

Most traffic deaths are preventable, but deaths from distracted driving are preventable. That’s why passing a strong distracted driving law is vital.

Last year, 118 people were killed while walking by people driving in Missouri—the highest in 10 years. Despite a reduction in traffic deaths, distracted driving is a leading cause in crashes, and Missouri is one of only two states without meaningful distracted driving legislation.

This is a public health crisis. If 118 Missourians were killed by a new contagious illness it would be headline news, and authorities would act. Instead, those deaths are simply the cost of using our phones while driving.

While different state legislation has been introduced, varying in scope and detail, it is vital that Missouri lawmakers pass meaningful distracted driving legislation.

Trailnet supports banning drivers from using a smartphone or similar device while driving, including talking and texting, but still allowing voice-only or hands-free use; GPS navigation; calling 911 or roadside assistance. We also support the reasonable use of these devices for emergency personnel.

Convenience should never override safety. Until meaningful distracted driving legislation is passed in Missouri, it is still legal for people to drive down the highway or by a local school while staring at their phones.

-Cindy Mense, Trailnet CEO

Workzone Mobility Ordinance | St. Louis City

Last week, the St. Louis Board of Aldermen approved legislation to update how the city handles construction sites and their impact on sidewalks and bike lanes.

Alderwoman Christine Ingrassia sponsored the proposal that gives the city’s streets department more authority to keep sidewalks open and guidance to developers creating safe accommodations in the case of construction impacting sidewalks or bike lanes. These accommodations can include: covered sidewalks, fencing, scaffolding, and other safety improvements.

We support this change as an important step to prioritize the needs of people who walk, use wheelchairs or ride bikes. Our sidewalks belong to everyone and should safely remain open during construction.

We look forward to working with the streets department on incorporating some of our priorities into these changes, including: minimum sidewalk widths, bike lane accommodations, specific considerations for people with visual impairments or people who use wheelchairs, and appropriate lighting requirements.

The legislation also updates the permit fee structure creating a higher-fee for developers that want to close sidewalks on major roads and around downtown. The increased fees will allow the streets department to hire two additional inspectors to enforce the ordinance and an additional plan reviewer to give guidance to developers on creating safe and continuous temporary connections for non-automobile transportation users during construction.

St. Louis County Bike Reforms

County Bill 385St. Louis County is on the verge of prioritizing the safety of people on bikes, and other vulnerable road users through a change to the county traffic rules.

The proposed legislation prioritizes people’s safety and judgement when using lanes, creates a 3-foot passing rule, clearly spells out when people are allowed to ride side by side, creates protections for vulnerable road users, and extends rules for bikes to apply to e-bikes.

This week, the St. Louis County Council is set to vote on County Bill 385, introduced by Councilwoman Kelli Dunaway, which updates the county’s outdated rules on how people on bikes can use roads in the county.

Our streets belong to everyone and everyone should be free to safely use them. We are confident that these policies are an important step towards safer streets.

Contact your county council member to let them know you support these practical, necessary reforms to the county’s traffic laws.

The original proposal was amended to include input from Trailnet and other advocates. We wish this went further by including similar language prioritizing the judgement of people on scooters, skateboards, rollerblades, and other wheeled mobility devices as well as other updates on e-bike rules. Likewise, laws are no replacement for road-design changes and infrastructure improvements, Trailnet supports this as a necessary and timely step to improve the law.

Click here to see the full text of the proposal.

The current version of the legislation reforms the county traffic code by:

Prioritizing people’s safety and judgement

Currently, the county has a one-size-fits-none approach, requiring bike traffic to stay as far to the right as “practicable” with no exemptions. If taken by the letter of the law, this means, riding in the gutter, in the door zone or on the shoulder. People riding bikes any other way could be cited for violating traffic law.

The proposal gives people on bikes more flexibility under the law to use their judgment. It lays out different exceptions that more closely matches how people actually interact safely on the road.

It creates a default for people on bikes to ride in the same direction as traffic and to stay to the right side of the right-most lane. However, it prioritizes people’s safety and judgement when laying out conditions where people can use the full lane, shoulder, or change lanes to:

  • Avoid debris or other hazards
  • Avoid vehicles turning in right-turn only lanes
  • If the road is too narrow for bikes and cars to share the same lane
  • Preparing to make left turns
  • Passing slower traffic
  • Avoid other unsafe conditions
  • If people follow these rules and obey other traffic laws, they would not violate rules against impeding traffic.

3-foot Passing

It also adds a 3-foot passing law for people in cars when overtaking people on bikes. It requires people driving to:

  1. Change lanes to pass, if there is a passing lane.
  2. If there is no passing lane, people driving must still give the person on the bike 3 feet of space while passing.
  3. It allows people driving to safely cross over the middle lane, even in no-passing zones, in order to give 3 feet to the person in the bike.

Riding Abreast

The legislation would also update the law to allow people on bikes to ride side by side on the street, which was prohibited under the old ordinance.
People may ride abreast if:

  1. They don’t significantly impede other traffic
  2. They are riding on the shoulder, bike lane, or bike path
  3. The right most lane of traffic is too narrow to be safely shared between a person on a bike and a car

Vulnerable Road Users

The bill also defines Vulnerable Road Users including:

  • People walking
  • People using wheelchairs
  • People riding bikes and using scooters, skateboards, roller skates, etc.
  • People working on the roadway: construction workers, first responders
  • People walking pets
  • People in animal-drawn vehicles
  • People on mopeds or motorcycles
  • People driving farm equipment

The proposed ordinance also prohibits people driving in a “careless or distracted manner” if it causes injury to a vulnerable road user. This creates a penalty for distracted driving if it causes a crash, hurting a vulnerable road user. This falls short of an overall distracted driving ban, since state law currently prevents local governments from passing their own distracted driving traffic rules. This reality prevents counties and cities from exercising local control, blocking them from addressing this dangerous behavior.

E-Bikes

This bill also extends rules governing bikes to include e-bikes and motorized bikes. This is a somewhat imperfect approach, because it uses engine cylinder size and horsepower as criteria, which doesn’t necessarily capture the differences of an e-bike motor. However, its way of dealing with top-speed that mostly fits in line with state and federal approaches for e-bikes.

In an ideal situation we would like to see St. Louis County and the State of Missouri adopt the three class E-Bike system being used in twenty two other states.

Contact your county council members to let them know you support these practical, necessary reforms to the county’s traffic laws.

St. Louis City Community Mobility Committee

Last week, the St. Louis Board of Aldermen, and the streets committee advanced a proposal to create and formally recognize a Community Mobility Committee that will serve an important role advising the City on active transit and personal mobility.

Thank you Alderwoman Christine Ingrassia for introducing this resolution and to the board for supporting it.

The resolution updates the previously established citizen-based Bike Share Working Group that was created to address bike and e-scooter sharing and has evolved to take on more issues facing people who walk, bike, use wheelchairs, take transit or use other mobility devices.

The resolution transforms that group into a more-formal committee that will weigh in on transportation issues for the city, develop policies and be a conduit for residents to have a say greater say in city government.

Trailnet has been part of that working group since its creation and we welcome the continuation of its work to make sure the voices of citizens vulnerable road users are heard by transportation policy makers in the St. Louis Region.

We hope the Community Mobility Committee will be an inclusive space where residents and advocates can work with city officials for more equitable and sustainable transportation policies.

Trailnet Classics | Message from the rides manager

Thank you to everyone who has reached out to us about the 2020 Trailnet Classics ride calendar.

We have received a lot of direct and indirect feedback about our changes to the rides. I want to acknowledge and accommodate people’s thoughts on the changes. Based on this feedback we are making adjustments to the start times of these rides.

Your input makes our events better and I appreciate it. I want these rides to be safe, fun, and memorable experiences for our riders, partners, and the communities who graciously welcome us.

We believe that bikes are not just a great way to get around but an even greater tool to bring folks together and build community. These rides support our work to advocate for safer streets for everyone and allow us to better engage these host cities and neighborhoods with our work.

Beginning in 2019, Trailnet started reviewing its distance rides to look at improving safety and rider experience. Coming into this position, my main focus was to build on the existing success of these rides, bring additional experience, and wider industry standards to the process, and give our members and riders a great experience.

Our overarching goal is to improve the safety and the community-building aspects of these rides without changing the core of these events: high-quality supported bike rides that build an appreciation and awareness for cycling.

Group Starts
Switching from a scattered start to a group start has been the change that has drawn the most attention and is the biggest change from previous years.

I understand this is a major change, and I appreciate the concerns people have shared over the shift to more-structured rides.

Changing registration and start times- Based on rider input, we are creating a second, earlier start time of our rides to address concerns of summer temperatures.

We will have two group starts. Riders can choose to depart in either a 7:30 or 8:30 A.M group start.

At both starts we will encourage riders to be mindful of their own ability and comfort level when positioning themselves in the staging area. Group start etiquette and safety will also be covered in the rider briefing.

We may make additional changes based on potential severe weather conditions, with appropriate notification time before the rides.

We are still committed to the benefits a group start offers:

  • Each start will have a police escort for the beginning section (10-12 mph. for approx. 1 mile) of each ride, to increase visibility and safety. People will be able to set their own pace after the escort has lead riders safely onto the course.
  • A rider briefing on the route and road conditions will allow more-consistent communications.
    The set start time will also improve the responsiveness of SAG and first aid support by having a clearer understanding of riders’ positions along each route.
  • The group start times shorten the volunteer shifts we ask including registration, rest stops, driving SAG vehicles, and managing traffic.
  • The set start times will help create a greater sense of community between riders of all experience levels. It allows more people to connect and socialize over coffee before the ride.
  • The group start addresses the concerns of people who feel safer riding in groups.

These changes also allow us to better work with municipal agencies on the timing of our rides as part of the permitting and insurance process. We need to operate within the agreements and expectations of the host communities and their agencies.

We are confident these benefits as well as day-of safety measures outweigh the potential challenges of a group start.

I want to keep hearing your thoughts and appreciate the chance to talk through these changes. Please shoot me an email or give me a call.

Matt Hartman
Rides Manager
matt@trailnet.org
314-828-2196

Trailnet Classics: Group Starts

We believe that bikes are not just a great way to get around but an even greater tool to bring folks together and build community. These rides support our work to advocate for safer streets for everyone and allow us to better engage these host cities and neighborhoods with our work.

Our overarching goal is to improve the safety and the community-building aspects of these rides without changing the core of these events: high-quality supported bike rides that build an appreciation and awareness for cycling.

Group Starts

We will have two group starts. Riders can choose to depart in either a 7:30 or 8:30 A.M group start.

At both starts we will encourage riders to be mindful of their own ability and comfort level when positioning themselves in the staging area. Group start etiquette and safety will also be covered in the rider briefing.

We may make additional changes based on potential severe weather conditions, with appropriate notification time before the rides.

We are still committed to the benefits a group start offers:

  • Each start will have a police escort for the beginning section (10-12 mph. for approx. 1 mile) of each ride, to increase visibility and safety. People will be able to set their own pace after the escort has lead riders safely onto the course.
  • A rider briefing on the route and road conditions will allow more-consistent communications.
  • The set start time will also improve the responsiveness of SAG and first aid support by having a clearer understanding of riders’ positions along each route.
  • The group start times shorten the volunteer shifts we ask including registration, rest stops, driving SAG vehicles, and managing traffic.
  • The set start times will help create a greater sense of community between riders of all experience levels. It allows more people to connect and socialize over coffee before the ride.
  • The group start addresses the concerns of people who feel safer riding in groups.

We are confident these benefits as well as day-of safety measures will give our riders a safe, high-quality ride experience.