Who is Trailnet?

Trailnet is a 501c3 nonprofit based in St. Louis, Missouri, and is the region’s voice for better biking and walking. Trailnet’s mission is to lead in fostering healthy, active, and vibrant communities where walking, bicycling, and the use of public transit are a way of life.

Trailnet’s work integrates public policy, urban planning, public health, community organizing, into strategic initiatives that enhance the quality of life for all, regardless of their race, zip code, age, or ability. For the past 30 years, Trailnet has been helping communities in the St. Louis region reach their potential by increasing sustainable transportation options and laying the foundation for a thriving economy that produces equitable outcomes.

Trailnet maintains an ongoing dialogue with our regional audience including a cultivated list of over 18,000 email subscribers, 2,000 paying members, and social media followers including 7,278 Facebook fans and 6,915 Twitter followers.

Does my Trailnet membership go to pay for Connecting St. Louis?

Yes, Trailnet’s membership dollars have always gone to support the organization in achieving its mission, to lead in fostering healthy, active, and vibrant communities where walking, bicycling, and the use of public transit are a way of life. Membership dollars will support Trailnet as we work with others to implement the Connecting St. Louis plan. The plan was supported through donations, grants, in-kind contributions, and individual gifts.

Will Trailnet build the Connecting St. Louis plan?  

Trailnet is committed to participating in the implementation of Connecting St. Louis.  Similar projects have a wide variety of funding and building structures, including a dedicated non-profit organization in Indianapolis, a tax district in Atlanta, and municipal governments in many towns. During the planning process, Trailnet engaged the community to understand what works best for St. Louis to learn a Public-Private Partnership is the best way for Connecting St. Louis to be built. Trailnet is currently working with partners who are ready to begin implementation in smaller 1-mile segments. Trailnet is open to all possibilities, and will continue to work with civic and community partners to figure how to build a connected network.

What will Trailnet do?

Trailnet led a master planning process, guided by our planning lens. Through the plan, Trailnet identified next steps and recommendations for advocates of Connecting St. Louis. Trailnet will continue to work with the City of St. Louis and other partners to secure resources to make the plan a reality. Trailnet will also work with neighborhoods to address safety issues with traffic calming infrastructure to create a seamless network supported by calm streets.

Has Trailnet’s mission changed?

We remain committed to our mission to lead in fostering healthy, active, and vibrant communities where walking, bicycling, and the use of public transit are a way of life. The Connecting St. Louis plan helped us to focus our mission and tie it to a defined geography. We believe this targeted approach helped us create large, concrete gains in a small area quickly. As we have seen in peer cities like Indianapolis and Memphis, making a few streets into great places can build momentum and shift the conversation on a regional scale.

Will implementing Connecting St. Louis take away from other Trailnet programs?

This shift is based on the strategic planning process Trailnet’s Board completed in 2016 and Trailnet’s 2015 Constituent Survey. This plan helps expand our capacity for advocacy, planning, and outreach and help direct towards implementing Connecting St. Louis. Trailnet will continue hosting rides and serving our communities through grant-funded education and planning programs.

What is a protected bikeway?

Protected bikeways are places for people to bicycle separated from people driving. To be protected, a bikeway needs some type of vertical separation, such as like a curb or a bollard. A protected bikeway can be either one lane in one direction, or it can be two lanes and two directions. The proposed protected bikeways will be at sidewalk level, separated from people walking by planters and trees, and marked with different paving types.

Protected bikeways are also known as protected bike lanes or cycle tracks. Regardless of the name, exclusive use for people bicycling and vertical separation are key to making protected bikeways work for everyone.

Who will pay for the project?

Trailnet will work with civic and community partners to determine the best funding models to build Connecting St. Louis. Similar projects have used philanthropic funds, federal funds, TIF, and even local sales taxes. The Indianapolis Cultural Trail used a Public-Private Partnership, foundations, federal grants and donations.

Will this project duplicate the tax-supported work by Great Rivers Greenway?

No, they will complement each other. These are different types of projects and our community members need and deserve multiple ways to explore and enjoy everything St. Louis has to offer.

The Connecting St. Louis plan will create bikeways, sidewalks and calmer streets to connect to existing and planned bicycling and walking infrastructure. Great Rivers Greenway, supported by regional sales tax, connects the St. Louis region with greenways, which are paved, accessible paths where people can walk, run, ride a bike and live life outside.

Both systems are helpful steps toward making walking and bicycling enjoyable and convenient in our region.

How will the Connecting St. Louis plan & the Chouteau Greenway planning process work together?

Trailnet and Great Rivers Greenway are collaborating efforts by meeting regularly to discuss project updates and determining how to build off of one another’s work.

Both of our maps and plans showcase what we have heard from the community thus far. As both projects move into planning and design, we will work together to understand the opportunities, challenges and roles for the many partners involved in this work.

It’s important that both agencies continue to collaborate with each other, the City of St. Louis, and all other entities working on these kinds of projects. Not only do partnerships increase impact, but our community members use and benefit from different routes and facilities.

Where will it be? How long is it?

Trailnet created the 14-mile primary network for Connecting St. Louis with additional supporting networks to connect cultural districts, trails, and transit. We are excited to share the plan that was created in collaboration with civic and community partners

To learn more about the Connecting St. Louis master planning process click here. To review an overview of the plan click here.

Will driving lanes or parking lanes be removed?

Possibly, all infrastructure projects require trade-offs. The Connecting St. Louis plan reviews implementation strategies and possible cross-sections of how to build different types of bicycle and pedestrian improvements. Trailnet created this vision to work for everyone that uses our public streets because we want streets that make walking, biking, using transit, and driving safe and pleasant for everyone.

We proposed a vision that may impact the number of traffic lanes because we have seen in peer cities like Indianapolis that improved walking and bicycling facilities have inspired more people to walk and bike for short trips. Though Indianapolis took out a traffic lane to achieve better walking and biking, the city has not seen increased congestion because some residents have changed their behavior.

If driving lanes or parking lanes are removed in the City of St. Louis for the Connecting St. Louis, then it should have similar results as Indianapolis. The City of St. Louis was built for almost 1 million people, but has less than 320,000 residents right now. Traffic counts show that some streets have more travel lanes than they need to efficiently handle the number of cars using them. Studies have shown when there are more traffic lanes than the traffic demands or when traffic lanes are painted too wide, it encourages speeding, which is dangerous for people walking, biking, and driving. St. Louis is a federally designated Pedestrian-Bicycle Focus City because of our high rates of people getting killed while walking or biking.

Because our current traffic lanes are not being fully used on some streets, and are encouraging speeding, we want to work with the community to re-envision how some streets could be used differently to create more transportation options.

Who will maintain it?

Trailnet is continuing to have discussions to determine who is the best agency or organization to maintain infrastructure once it is built. We will incorporate the cost of a maintenance endowment into the full cost of the project.

When can I ride my bike on it?

When it gets built! We cannot wait to ride our bikes on it either and are working with Public-Private Partnership to push for the best design for the facility to be built.

How does it connect with existing trails? How will it connect to transit and metrolink?  

The Connecting St. Louis plan focused on connecting neighborhoods, business districts, and parks and trails. Through reviewing existing conditions, committee and stakeholder input, and community engagement, Trailnet found the primary network for Connecting St. Louis is to connect between Fairgrounds Park to Tower Grove Park and Forest Park to the Arch. Connecting St. Louis works to enhance and connect our existing network, and make sure people can bike and walk safely from their front door to wherever they want to go.

What about bikeshare?

In April 2018 dockless bike sharing was launched in the City of St. Louis and electric scooters were launched in August 2018. To learn more about the micro-mobility options in St. Louis click here to read about the process and partners and here for a bike share/e-scooter FAQ.

Looking at cities around the country, we can see that bike share works best when there is safe and pleasant infrastructure connecting thriving neighborhoods before the systems are launched. When people do not feel safe bicycling, or when there are not multiple destinations to bike to, bike share does not get used to its full potential. We see this project as an essential part of supporting a successful bike share system in St. Louis.

Will this displace people and cause gentrification?

Improvements to public streets and services come with the risk of rising property values and rents that displace people from their neighborhoods. Trailnet wants Connecting St. Louis to serve our current residents and to help neighborhoods grow on their terms. Advocates for Connecting St. Louis can find in the plan a list of recommendations and strategies in how to ensure this plan is implemented for all people in the St. Louis region. Policies that address affordability and prevent displacement will have to be a part of implementing Connecting St. Louis to succeed and to serve the current residents of St. Louis.

Why should walking and bicycling be a priority in a region with so many needs?

Trailnet is a mission driven organization with a 30 year history of focusing on improving access to active transportation. We do this because we believe safe and pleasant options for walking and bicycling is a necessary part of a healthy community. When walking and bicycling are part of our daily lives, it helps people get to know their neighbors, improve their health, shop at local businesses, and save money on gas. When people can choose to walk and bike, it helps our communities have cleaner air, safer streets, and it reduces the demand for high cost car-oriented infrastructure improvements. We believe that streets that welcome walking and bicycling are an important part of creating a St. Louis that is equitable and thriving for everyone.