Who is Trailnet?
Trailnet is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with a 29 year history whose 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 has been creating Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plans since 2007 and has partnered with over 35 communities to develop these plans. Trailnet is leading the master planning process for the protected bikeways and sidewalks vision.
Does my Trailnet membership go to pay for the project?
Yes. Trailnet’s individual and business membership dollars have always gone to support the organization in achieving its mission. Membership dollars will aid in supporting the master planning process to determine how St. Louis can achieve this vision. The master planning process will also be supported through donations, grants, corporate and foundation support, and in-kind contributions.
Will Trailnet build the project?
Trailnet is committed to seeing the master planning process through to give St. Louis a forum for deciding how the project should be built and by whom. Similar projects have a wide variety of funding and building mechanisms, including a dedicated non-profit organization in Indianapolis, a tax district in Atlanta, and municipal governments in many towns. Trailnet is spending the next 18 months doing master planning with the community so we can understand what works best for St. Louis. We are open to all possibilities, and will work with the community to figure how to build a connected network.
What will Trailnet do?
Trailnet is leading the master planning process, guided by our planning lens. The results of this planning process will provide the direction for building the network. Trailnet is committed to advocating for the recommendations determined through the planning process and community input.
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. Our new vision helps us to focus our mission and tie it to a defined geography. We believe this targeted approach will help us to quickly create large, concrete gains in a small area. As we have seen in peer cities like Indianapolis and Memphis, making a few streets into safe, family-friendly, lively places can build momentum and shift the conversation on a regional scale.
Will the project take away from other Trailnet programs?
Our capacity for advocacy, planning, and outreach will be directed toward completing the network’s master plan, through which we will develop a process for how St. Louis can achieve the vision. The decision to focus on a network of protected bikeways and sidewalks was based on Trailnet’s 2015 Constituent Survey and our Board’s strategic plan completed in 2016. Trailnet will continue hosting rides and serving our communities through grant-funded education and planning programs.
Trailnet’s vision is based on a network that invites people to walk, bicycle, and enjoy our streets as part of their daily lives. Creating places where people want to be helps to build healthy communities and encourages people to bring their energy and creativity with them. Trailnet prioritizes high-quality facilities, ongoing maintenance, and resident-centered development.
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 physical separation, such as 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. Protected bikeways are also known as protected bike lanes or cycle tracks. Regardless of the name, exclusive use for people bicycling and physical separation are key to making protected bikeways work for everyone.
Our proposed protected bikeways will be at sidewalk level, separated from people walking by planters and trees, and marked with different paving materials. The Indianapolis Cultural Trail provides an excellent model of what we envision for St. Louis.
Who will pay for the project?
Trailnet’s master planning process is being paid for through donations, grants, corporate and foundation support, in-kind contributions from our partners, and membership.
Recommendations for funding the build out will be determined by the master planning process. 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 of Great Rivers Greenway?
No. This project focuses on adding protected bikeways and sidewalks on streets to connect people to destinations such as jobs, schools, essential services, shops, parks, arts venues and transit. Trailnet’s vision will connect to existing and planned bicycling and walking infrastructure. Trailnet’s work is grounded in placemaking and is specific to our streets reimagined as places that build community.
Great Rivers Greenway is a regional parks and trails district, created in 2000 by a vote of the people. The sales tax funds the organization to build, bring to life, and care for a network of greenways throughout St. Louis City, St. Louis County and St. Charles County. Great Rivers Greenway is developing a network of greenways to connect people to their rivers, parks and communities.
The greenways and our proposed network are both necessary to make walking and bicycling enjoyable and convenient in our region, and Trailnet will collaborate with GRG to ensure that the two systems work together effectively.
Where will it be? How long is it?
We need YOU to help answer those questions! We are committed to the master planning process to figure out a network that connects cultural districts, trails, and transit. We also acknowledge that it has to be large enough to be useful, but focused enough to feasibly create a network. We are excited to collaborate with the community to create the recommendations.
Will driving lanes or parking lanes be removed?
Possibly. All infrastructure projects require trade-offs. We are embarking on a Master Plan to understand how the people of St. Louis want to use their streets and what types of trade-offs would be prudent. Because we want streets that make walking, biking, using transit, and driving safe and pleasant for everyone, Trailnet is committed to going through an 18-month master planning process to figure out how our vision will work for everyone who uses our public streets.
We are proposing 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 or parking lanes are removed in the City of St. Louis for the network, results will likely be similar to those seen in 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 that 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 modified to create more transportation options.
Who will maintain it?
The master planning process will help us figure out 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, so please help us make it happen by getting involved in the master planning process and by supporting us through membership. Working with the community is critical to figuring out routes, funding, and governance, and will give us the information that we need for planning the next steps.
How does it connect with existing trails? How will it connect to transit and MetroLink?
The routes will be figured out during the master planning process, so we cannot say for sure yet. However, connecting to existing and future trails and transit is vital for making these routes useful. Our vision is to enhance and connect our existing network, and make sure people can bike and walk safely from the their front door to wherever they want to go. We are excited to finish the route planning process so we can answer these questions fully!
What about bikeshare?
One of the most exciting lessons from the Indianapolis Cultural Trail has been the great success of the Pacers Bikeshare system that was installed along the Trail after it was built. Looking at cities around the country, we can see that bikeshare 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, bikeshare does not get used to its full potential. We see this project as an essential part of supporting a successful bikeshare system in St. Louis.
What is the name?
Trailnet is working with partners to decide on a name that will inspire the community and capture the vision! If you have ideas, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 this vision to serve our current residents and to help neighborhoods grow on their terms. As we plan the destinations and routes, we will have a committee focused on land use to research best practices in how to prevent displacement. Policies that prevent displacement will have to be a part of the process for the vision 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 29 year history of focusing on improving access to active transportation. We do this because we believe safe and pleasant options for walking and bicycling are 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. In addition, we know from peer cities that have implemented protected bikeway and sidewalk networks that these networks are an economic engine that attracts people to live, work, and play nearby. According to a recent economic development study, the Indianapolis Cultural Trail will create more than 11,000 jobs and the economic benefits attributable to the Cultural Trail exceed $863 million. The potential returns on investment for St. Louis are economic growth, improved health and wellness, greater social equity and access, and truly connected neighborhoods.