St. Louisans are fortunate to enjoy lush greenspace in our numerous parks, fine food offered through restaurants and a growing fleet of food trucks, a vibrant art and music scene, and a champion baseball team. These many assets are clouded by statistics that rank St. Louis as one of the most dangerous cities in the country for pedestrians. In the U.S. as a whole, 12 percent of lethal traffic accidents involve pedestrians. This number compares to 14 percent in Europe and 25 percent in China. In St. Louis, 36 percent of fatal accidents affect pedestrians. In the first six months of 2015, 15 pedestrians were killed in the city of St. Louis, many in hit-and-run incidents. These sobering statistics earned St. Louis a designation as a Focus City by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, joining 21 other U.S. cities in which pedestrian deaths are higher than the national average.
A number of factors have contributed to creating this risky environment for pedestrians, most notably road designs that prioritize automobiles over pedestrian safety, and excessive speed of car traffic. Statistics indicate that pedestrians struck by cars travelling at 20 miles per hour generally suffer minor injuries and fatalities are below 10 percent. As speeds increase, the risk to pedestrians involved in collisions rises dramatically: at 30 mph, 45 percent of pedestrians who are struck suffer fatal injuries; when struck by a car traveling above 40 mph, pedestrian mortality increases to 80 percent.
Trailnet was recently awarded a Plan4Health grant in collaboration with the HEAL Partnership to improve the safety of pedestrians in the city of St. Louis. Our efforts will begin with community meetings in the Ville, Greater Ville, Carondelet, Dutchtown, and Jeff-Vander-Lou neighborhoods to learn about residents’ concerns about pedestrian safety. These meetings will be followed by walk audits and “pop-up traffic calming” demonstrations in the neighborhoods. Traffic-calming measures help to decrease vehicle speeds and provide refuges for pedestrians. These measures include infrastructure changes such as speed bumps, roundabouts and pedestrian islands.
A rainy day did not dampen students’ enthusiasm for the May 20 Field Day at Froebel Literacy Academy in the Dutchtown neighborhood. Children ranging from pre-school through fifth grade participated in a variety of activities coordinated by school staff and community partners, including Trailnet.
Students and teachers enjoyed smoothies produced by Trailnet’s pedal-powered “bike blender.” One after another the kids lined up, taking turns spinning their legs to swirl the fresh fruit and juices. Even those with legs too short to reach the pedals eagerly mounted the bicycle while Trailnet staff helped out by manually turning the cranks.
Waves of children rotated through a circuit of activities in the building, including basketball in the gym and scooter races in the hallways. Trailnet offered a version of musical chairs that involved student leaders parading through traffic cones and leading buddies through a “crosswalk” set up in the cafeteria. Each student received a poem stressing the importance of “using your head before your feet” while walking in the neighborhood. The poems were entered into raffles for sunglasses, flashing safety lights, and “footie” bracelets.
Trailnet has partnered with Froebel for the past two years, organizing a variety of activities aimed at improving pedestrian safety around the school. These activities have included Walk to School Days, an after school “Walk Ambassadors” program for Froebel’s Leadership students, and surveys soliciting parent input about transportation in the neighborhood.
Trailnet also recently completed a traffic study of the area surrounding the school in order to outline recommendations for infrastructure and behavioral changes that will improve pedestrian safety. One issue cited by the traffic study was the lack of a crosswalk and stop sign at the school’s front entrance where many parents drop off and pick up their children.
Before leaving, Trailnet presented the school with a portable stop sign, safety cones, reflective vests and hand-held stop signs. This equipment will be used to improve safety at the drop-off area and by crossing guards at nearby intersections. Trailnet thanks Mr. Von Smith, Froebel’s Family and Community Specialist, and Anne Thomas, Academic Instructional Coach, for an ongoing partnership that has been highly rewarding and lots of fun. We also thank the Missouri Department of Transportation, the Dana Brown Charitable Trust, Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, the Saigh Foundation and Wells Fargo Advisors for funding our work in Dutchtown.
Advocacy Alert: Help ensure funding for safe walking and biking for our youth
Help make sure that Congress doesn’t cut the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) funding in the next transportation bill. TAP helps local communities build sidewalks, crosswalks, bike lanes, trails and more. TAP funding supports Safe Routes to School initiatives throughout St. Louis City and County.
Without TAP, hundreds of millions of dollars used to improve streets for walking and biking would evaporate. Some of these funds have been used to support youth programs like Trailnet’s “Steps in the Right Direction” at Froebel Literacy Academy to help make walking and biking a way of life in St. Louis.
Please follow the link below to ask Senators Roy Blunt and Senator Claire McCaskill to support bill S. 705, the Transportation Alternatives Program Improvement Act. Thank you for supporting legislation that will keep our youth walking and biking safely.
Trailnet introduced their new business membership program at an event on Tuesday, February 24 at the Venture Cafe on the Cortex campus. This invitation-only event served as a great opportunity to share Trailnet’s 2015 plans, to launch Trailnet’s Business Membership Program, and to meet Trailnet’s new executive director, Ralph Pfremmer.
The attendees were board members, community partners, donors, and prospective business members who spent most of the evening networking and enjoying food and drinks. The room was abuzz with the latest in transportation news and Trailnet’s vision to make walking and biking a way of life in St. Louis.
As part of the event, Ralph Pfremmer and Jennifer Allen, Director of Strategic Initiatives, presented research on the economic impact protected bikeways and improved walking infrastructure can have on a community. They connected this data to the introduction of Trailnet’s Business Membership Program and how, in becoming a member, businesses can invest in Trailnet’s vision for better walking and biking infrastructure that supports a prosperous, healthy region.
Executive Director Ralph Pfremmer summed up the evening this way: “In a perfect world, collaboration is abundant, everyone is included, and transparency is the standard. The Trailnet business member understands that together we can foster a quality of life that supports a prosperous, healthy region.”
Confluence Business Advisors, Ron Tanner and Dave Fingerhut, partners
Collaborate with us
As we work to make walking and biking a way of life in our region, it is critical that we have the resources and support to bring about innovative and positive change in our community. Your business membership provides for us the support we need to be visionary and collaborative leaders for progress. Click here for business membership levels and benefits. For more information contact Kay Barnes, Director of Development – firstname.lastname@example.org, 314.436.1324 x 104
Stay tuned for our next Business Membership Event – coming this Summer!
Safe Routes to School – active living for kids
Walbridge Elementary students mark the start of their walk on a neighborhood map
Encouraging kids to get out of the family car and join their friends on a walk to school is one of the goals of Trailnet’s Safe Routes to School Program. Trailnet organized a series of Walk to School Days in the Fall, engaging nearly 2,000 children at a number of elementary schools throughout the area.
At Froebel Literacy Academy, Trailnet staff presented “Steps in the Right Direction” to the school’s Leadership Development students. This five-week program focuses on the benefits of active transportation, provides guidance on safe pedestrian behavior, and encourages the kids to advocate for a safer walking environment in their neighborhood. Student activities included a “walk about” the school to identify potential hazards to pedestrians, and Jeopardy and Bingo games to learn about pedestrian safety.
Froebel students display their pedestrian safety posters
Students in the program created posters designed to encourage their classmates to walk more and to highlight wise pedestrian decisions. As the student leaders commented, hanging the posters around the school will remind kids that “walking is good for you,” to “wear bright colors at night,” and “stop jaywalking!”
Trailnet thanks Mr. Von Smith, Froebel’s Family and Community Specialist, for his enthusiastic cooperation and tireless efforts on behalf of his students. Thanks also to school staff and parent volunteers who helped to organize Walk to School Days at participating schools. Their dedication to active living (and their willingness to provide hot coffee) inspires other families to “walk the walk.”
In 2015 we look forward to continuing our partnership with Froebel’s Leadership Academy and with the many schools with whom we have enjoyed years of collaboration. We are excited about promoting healthy, active living at two additional St. Louis Public Schools through the development of walking school bus programs, and through collaboration with other Family and Community Specialists. Together with these dedicated staff and parents, we hope to put more little boots on the ground!
Funding for the Safe Routes to School Program is provided by
New Directors of Transportation in City and County
St. Louis news of late has been filled with death, tragedy and crime. We know that’s not the entire story. There is a lot of positive activity happening below the surface of the news cycle. St. Louis has become an entrepreneurial hub. Our region has talented, creative, and energetic people working every day to create a vibrant, active region. Organizations and agencies are collaborating at an increasing rate. Together, we are focusing our collective activities towards the same targeted outcomes – economic inclusion, talent attraction, and increasing transportation options.
We are in a moment of great opportunity with significant changes in City and County staff. County Executive Stenger is working to fill high-level positions in his administration, and the selections he makes will shape the future of the region. Mayor Slay announced this week a new Chief of Staff, Deputy Chief of Staff, and Director of Operations. We applaud his decision to promote the next generation to positions of power. They know better than many which assets will bring new residents and businesses to our region.
Both City and County are working to fill vacant Director of Transportation positions. The importance of placing the right people into these positions cannot be overstated, as they will determine how streets are designed throughout the region and who can safely use them. The Directors of Transportation can choose to continue on the current path of car-centric road design or choose to diversify transportation options. They can help make St. Louis a more livable region with a North-South Metrolink line, protected bike lanes the whole family can ride, and pedestrian crossings that accommodate all people regardless of age or ability.
We are counting on our leaders to choose wisely, selecting staff who are innovative, with a collaborative and transparent nature, and are willing to work hand-in-hand with private and public businesses for the betterment of the region. We need a 21st century vision and plan for the St. Louis we want to become, and stand ready to support our leaders and put in the work to take the region to the next level.
As we plan for our future, we should always focus our energies towards principles that ensure community advancement. We must collaborate, be inclusive, and promote transparency to meet our region’s highest potential. Together, our region can lead in fostering a healthy, active community where walking, biking, and public transit are a part of our daily lives.
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.
Kirkwood Plan Review and Pop-up Plaza – October 25, 2014
An unseasonably warm day welcomed Kirkwood residents young and old to the Farmers’ Market in Downtown Kirkwood. The blue skies and pleasant fall breeze made for prime pumpkin patch and harvest market perusing and a perfect day for a Pop-up Plaza on Argonne Drive.
Early Saturday morning Trailnet staff and volunteers, including City Councilwoman Nancy Luetzow and her husband Mark, constructed makeshift infrastructure for the Pop-up Plaza. Using chalk paint, they stenciled traffic-calming apples on the streets in the area surrounding the plaza. Reflective duct tape and chalk paint were used to design crosswalks on Argonne. Kirkwood resident Mary Hanson later expressed her appreciation: “I love this crosswalk. It makes cars really kind of stop and think that there are pedestrians here and it gives you a safe place to cross.” Hay bales on either side of the plaza acted as bulb-outs – narrowing the traffic, slowing speeds, and protecting the pedestrian space.
The Pop-up Plaza served as an inviting atmosphere for residents to learn about and provide feedback on Kirkwood’s Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan. Planning Manager Marielle Brown and Trailnet staff were on site for questions and to further explain the elements of a bikeable, walkable community. Enthusiastic volunteers in reflective vests welcomed residents and joined them in examining large maps of Kirkwood to identify walking and biking routes and areas of concern. Resident Jennifer Pangborn Dolde explained her concerns: “I think the two big things to improve biking and walking in Kirkwood is connectivity and the speeds of vehicles.” Planning Advisory Committee members David Eagleton and Robert Trottman volunteered at the event, sharing their involvement and discussing the Master Plan with attendees. Residents also participated in the Plan Review by selecting infrastructure options they prefer for Kirkwood.
Trailnet has enjoyed working with Kirkwood since January of 2014, leading a series of meetings with the Planning Advisory Committee to develop Kirkwood’s Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan. The lively gathering and chatter among residents at the event revealed the community’s enthusiasm and desire to improve walkability and bikeability in the Kirkwood area. Nathan Leming, a volunteer at the event, recognized the impact stating “The downtown area is the center of the community. If you make the community more bikeable and walkable, you’ll see more people down here. There wouldn’t be as much traffic.”
Kirkwood residents are not only enthusiastic but great supporters of their community. Kirkwood resident, Jennifer Pangborn Dolde, expressed “We love the feel of community you get, just being around it, it’s the aura, it’s the people . . . We have this great downtown that draws people from all over the city.” Showing his support, Mayor of Kirkwood Arthur J. McDonnell visited with event attendees discussing the Master Plan and asking little ones about their Halloween festivities. Event volunteer and Planning Advisory Committee member, James Myers, shared “I’ve lived in Kirkwood for 12 years. It feels like a real town, it’s really close-knit.”
The input and presence of the community made Kirkwood’s Plan Review and Pop-up Plaza a success. Proactive residents showed interest in making our vision a reality in Kirkwood with valuable feedback and a desire to get involved. We hope to finalize the Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan in December 2014. For additional information and updates on the Master Plan: https://trailnet.org/work/transportation-planning/communities/kirkwood/
Using an awards system based on engineering, education, encouragement, evaluation and planning, the League of American Bicyclists recognizes the bicycle-friendly efforts of more than 800 businesses from across the nation. Bicycle Friendly Businesses foster a sense of community and promote wellness and sustainability in the workplace. Trailnet’s TravelGreen program seeks to increase the number of Bicycle Friendly Business in St. Louis. Bicycle Friendly Businesses enhance the quality of life for our residents and shows support for initiatives that raise the city’s Bronze bicycle-friendly status.
Trailnet is thrilled to share this announcement and congratulates the four new St. Louis businesses on becoming leaders in the community. The Saint Louis Zoo is one of only two zoos in the nation to receive the honor and Spoked Couriers received a gold level status on their first application! Looking to the future, Trailnet seeks to build a network of Bicycle Friendly Businesses supporting and promoting our healthy, active initiative throughout the region.
Bicycle Friendly Businesses in the St. Louis region:
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.