Posts Tagged “Advocacy”
The 2022 St. Louis City and County Crash Report
Trailnet’s 2022 Crash Report reviews a year rife with traffic violence and proposes solutions for the St. Louis region.
Last year, 173 people were killed and 14,930 people injured in traffic crashes in St. Louis City and County.
In the City of St. Louis, 78 total people died as a result of traffic violence—the second-most fatalities in any year on record, and more than double the number of traffic fatalities in the City a decade ago.
In St. Louis County, the number of pedestrian fatalities over a three-year span from 2020-2022 was up 228% from 2010-2012.
These and other key findings are part of Trailnet’s “2022 St. Louis City and County Crash Report.” This report is a snapshot and analysis of traffic violence in the region and lays out recommendations for local leaders to better address these tragedies.
“This data reinforces the already-clear link between poorly-designed roads, high speeds and deadly conditions for people outside of cars,” said Sam McCrory, Trailnet’s Community Planner and the primary author of the report. “Last year, City leaders finally committed to long-term solutions, but we also need immediate responses across the region. We cannot continue waiting around for change while people die on our streets.”
“We’re focused first and foremost on the needs and safety of people walking, biking, and using transit, but these crashes can affect everyone and ripple through our community,” said Cindy Mense, Trailnet’s CEO. “The human toll of these crashes is immeasurable.”
The report is based on data from the Missouri Statewide Traffic Accident Records System, which catalogs crash information from law enforcement agencies across the state.
In addition to reporting crash data, this year’s report features a new section for fatal crash reviews. These reviews analyze the context and roadway conditions of specific crash sites from five crashes in 2022. Each analysis is followed by a series of recommendations to prevent future deaths, including: reducing dangerous driver behavior through street design, improving safety near bus stops and reimagining our most car-centric corridors.
Other key takeaways include:
In 2022, in the City of St. Louis, seven roads were responsible for 35% of crashes. Of those seven, Grand, Chippewa, Kingshighway, Broadway, and Gravois were responsible for 44% of pedestrian deaths. These high-crash corridors make up only 1% of the city’s road network.
In 2022, in St. Louis County, seven roads accounted for 23% of pedestrian crashes. Of those seven, St. Charles Rock Road, Page Ave, and W. Florissant were responsible for 42% of pedestrian deaths.
95% of pedestrian fatalities in St. Louis County occurred on roads marked 35 MPH or higher
84% of pedestrian fatalities in St. Louis City & County occurred at mid-block locations
32% of fatal car crashes in St. Louis City & County occur due to Speeding Related circumstances
Visit trailnet.org/2022-crash-report to read the full report.
St. Louis Safer Streets Bill Signed
Trailnet was invited to be a part of the signing of the St. Louis Safer Streets Bill on March 1. Here’s what that means, why we’re excited, and what more needs to be done.
On Wednesday morning, March 1, 2023, City of St. Louis Mayor Tishaura O. Jones signed the St. Louis Safer Streets Bill (also referred to as Board Bill 120) into law.
This is a huge win. It marks the City’s largest-ever investment into street safety and infrastructure, and Trailnet was invited to be a part of the ceremony.
We couldn’t have done this without support from our members and community.
Together, we have fought for pedestrians, bicyclists and transit users over the last three decades. We laid the groundwork for change by shifting the conversation, focusing on systems, and gradually building public support. We sounded the alarm about traffic violence with the Crash Report. We built relationships with decision makers and met with elected officials.
The work isn’t over, though. Now, the funding must be carefully applied, on a comprehensive scale, to the problems it hopes to solve.
As Trailnet CEO Cindy Mense said in her remarks to the press, “While improving infrastructure is crucial, it will not, on its own, deter reckless drivers or put an end to the plague of traffic violence…. Trailnet and our partners stand ready to work with the administration in pursuing a vision of zero traffic injuries and fatalities on our streets.”
Together, we will continue to fight for Streets for All.
St. Louis Board of Aldermen Candidate Survey on Safe Streets
Trailnet and St. Louis BWorks teamed up to survey candidates for the Board of Aldermen in advance of the City of St. Louis Primary Municipal Elections on March 7, 2023.
This questionnaire was created to educate City voters on the issues that our organizations consider central to our missions. These survey questions were constructed to collect Board of Aldermen candidates’ positions on issues related to safe streets, infrastructure funding, environmental impact and more. We received responses from nine of the 39 aldermanic candidates in the new 14 wards. See the list of respondents and their complete, unedited responses below:
|Ward 1||Anne Schweitzer & Matthew Kotraba|
|Ward 5||Helen Petty|
|Ward 6||Daniela Velazquez|
|Ward 7||Cedric “C-Sharp” Redmon|
|Ward 8||Shedrick “Nato Caliph” Kelley|
|Ward 9||Michael Browning|
|Ward 10||Emmett L Coleman|
|Ward 12||Tashara T. Earl|
Non-respondents: Anthony Kirchner (1); Tom Oldenburg, Phill Menendez, Katie Bellis (2); Shane Cohn (3); Bret Narayan, Joe Vaccaro, Casey Otto (4); Joe Vollmer (5); Jennifer Florida (6); Alisha Sonnier, J.P. Mitchom (7); Cara Spencer, Ken Ortmann (8); Michael Gras, Tina Pihl (9); Shameem Clark Hubbard (10); Laura Keys, Carla Wright (11); Sharon Tyus, Darron M. Collins-Bey, Yolanda Brown, Walter Rush (12); Pam Boyd, Norma Walker, Elicia Middlebrook (13); James Page, Brandon Bosley, Rasheen Aldridge, Ebony Washington (14)
Questions in this section included pre-made answer choices, as well as an option for open response.
Should the 1/2 cent sales tax for street and sidewalk infrastructure go directly to the city or continue to be distributed as “ward capital” to the alderpersons?
|Anne Schweitzer (1)||The city needs an infrastructure plan, with the administration and alderpersons working together to fund it. That plan will likely take several revenue streams to accomplish. Ward capital alone is nowhere near enough for all the infrastructure needs of the city it is expected to cover.|
|Matthew Kotraba (1)||Alderpersons know their ward best and should make those decisions|
|Helen Petty (5)||Infrastructure issues should be approached holistically, city-wide|
|Daniela Velazquez (6)||Infrastructure issues should be approached holistically, city-wide|
|Cedric “C-Sharp” Redmon (7)||If the city can justify the spending with a clear, comprehensive plan that is authentic to each neighborhood, while directly impacting the problems, and beautifying streets simultaneously, that would be something I could possibly introduce to residents and voters as an option with their tax dollars. Until then i believe the alderman is elected to make those budget decisions to address those needs and i believe that the Ward capital should be given to the alderman.|
|Shedrick “Nato Caliph” Kelley (8)||Infrastructure issues should be approached holistically, city-wide|
|Michael Browning (9)||Infrastructure issues should be approached holistically, city-wide|
|Emmett L Coleman (10)||Infrastructure issues should be approached holistically, city-wide|
|Tashara T. Earl (12)||The money should be divided between alderpersons and the city|
What metric(s) should be used to determine equitable distribution of the 1/2 cent sales tax?
|Anne Schweitzer (1)||The 1/2 cent sales tax is split with half going to ward capital funds, and the other half going to parks, recreation centers, citywide capital improvements, and to police department capital improvements. I believe funds going directly to each ward should be split equally, but would be open to a conversation about increasing the percentage that goes to the other categories. All of this relies on the city having an infrastructure plan in place.|
|Matthew Kotraba (1)||The decision needs to be made before the new direction is applied.|
|Helen Petty (5)||Poverty, by census tracts; Number of street miles contained in the wardI think we need to look at the current state of roads and sidewalks in any given area, the historic disinvestment, and frequency of use by cars/large trucks etc|
|Daniela Velazquez (6)||Number of vacant lots and abandoned buildings; Number of street miles contained in the ward|
|Cedric “C-Sharp” Redmon (7)||Based on Severity & equity & cost|
|Shedrick “Nato Caliph” Kelley (8)||Number of street miles contained in the ward|
|Michael Browning (9)||Ward capital shouldn’t be the funding mechanism for infrastructure. It is not enough money and it puts decisions in the hands of political actors and non-experts. Most of ward capital is currently used on infrastructure. I am in favor of a small amount distributed equitably among the wards based off of a combination of metrics, but only if the city takes infrastructure out of the purview of alderpeople and their ward capital budgets.|
|Emmett L Coleman (10)||Poverty, by census tracts; Homeowners vs. renter percentage; Number of vacant lots and abandoned buildings; Number of street miles contained in the ward|
|Tashara T. Earl (12)||Poverty, by census tracts; Number of vacant lots and abandoned buildings|
Should the City embark on a Vision Zero “No traffic fatalities” approach to street and sidewalk maintenance and improvements?
|Anne Schweitzer (1)||Yes, there should be a No fatalities approach, and I will prioritize achieving this goal|
|Matthew Kotraba (1)||I would like to know more about Vision Zero to form a position.|
|Helen Petty (5)||Yes, there should be a No fatalities approach, and I will prioritize achieving this goal|
|Daniela Velazquez (6)||Yes, there should be a No fatalities approach, and I will prioritize achieving this goal|
|Cedric “C-Sharp” Redmon (7)||It is no way to guarantee a “No fatalities” plan. We can not control “Acts of God” as tragic as some are, it’s unrealistic to promote this in that way. But, I would be open to any and all discussion that preserves human life and makes traveling our city highways, bridges, streets, alleys, sidewalks, crosswalks, bike lanes, overpasses, and snow routes safe to drive, bike, or walk.|
|Shedrick “Nato Caliph” Kelley (8)||Yes, there should be a No fatalities approach, and I will prioritize achieving this goal|
|Michael Browning (9)||Yes, there should be a No fatalities approach, and I will prioritize achieving this goal|
|Emmett L Coleman (10)||Yes, there should be a No fatalities approach, and I will prioritize achieving this goal|
|Tashara T. Earl (12)||Yes, there should be a No fatalities approach, and I will prioritize achieving this goal|
Should the city use funds to support better pedestrian and bike infrastructure and education?
|Anne Schweitzer (1)||We need to prioritize pedestrian and cyclist safety|
|Matthew Kotraba (1)||There needs to be a more feasible budget approach to all infrastructure projects.|
|Helen Petty (5)||We need to prioritize pedestrian and cyclist safety|
|Daniela Velazquez (6)||We need to prioritize pedestrian and cyclist safety|
|Cedric “C-Sharp” Redmon (7)||Yes we should, but not at any cost. Funds should not be pulled from basic needs or civil service departments to fund potential projects. If we can secure grants, federal/state funding, or even balance our own city budget better to free from wasteful spending that could open up funds to allocate resources towards eco-friendly travel expansion.|
|Shedrick “Nato Caliph” Kelley (8)||We need to prioritize pedestrian and cyclist safety|
|Michael Browning (9)||We need to prioritize pedestrian and cyclist safety|
|Emmett L Coleman (10)||We need to prioritize pedestrian and cyclist safety|
|Tashara T. Earl (12)||We need to prioritize pedestrian and cyclist safety|
Should the city increase automated traffic enforcement in light of the continued decrease in police officers?
|Anne Schweitzer (1)||I support automated traffic enforcement and officer involvement in traffic enforcement.|
|Matthew Kotraba (1)||No, the police should provide traffic enforcement|
|Helen Petty (5)||Yes, but it must be equitably enforced|
|Daniela Velazquez (6)||Automated traffic enforcement is unconstitutional in the city.|
|Cedric “C-Sharp” Redmon (7)||No, red light cameras have been proven to be unconstitutional and too evasive in court to hold drivers accountable. We need more police/traffic police presence. Traffic stops actually being executed in the field to create a sense of safety and declaration of action taken to combat our traffic problems.|
|Shedrick “Nato Caliph” Kelley (8)||Yes, but it must be equitably enforced|
|Michael Browning (9)||Yes, but it must be equitably enforced|
|Emmett L Coleman (10)||Yes, but it must be equitably enforced|
|Tashara T. Earl (12)||Yes, but it must be equitably enforced|
Should the city increase traffic enforcement through non police or courtroom tactics?
|Anne Schweitzer (1)||Warning letters to car owners; Warning letters to Insurance companies; Residents can report concerns to their Neighborhood Improvement Specialist. They often help with issues like this in the neighborhood.|
|Matthew Kotraba (1)||Increase police visibility and enforcement that could help overall crime concerns.|
|Helen Petty (5)||Warning letters to car owners; Warning letters to Insurance companies|
|Daniela Velazquez (6)||Warning letters to Insurance companies|
|Cedric “C-Sharp” Redmon (7)||We can not “enforce” without the judicial system and police departments working together to ensure safety. To increase accountability by using non law enforcement to protect state and city traffic laws at this time seems unrealistic but not unreasonable|
|Shedrick “Nato Caliph” Kelley (8)||Warning letters to car owners; Warning letters to Insurance companies|
|Michael Browning (9)||Warning letters to car owners; Warning letters to Insurance companies; Civilian personnel can be used as extra eyes and ears on the road, and respond to low-risk situations like traffic collisions to fill out reports, instead of diverting one of the city’s few traffic officers to do these routine tasks.|
|Emmett L Coleman (10)||No, the city should not use these strategies, I believe that simply sending letters to car owners is wasteful and the majority of people will ignore them. There is no way to even determine if car owners have current car insurance outside of police enforcement. There has to be some sort of enforcement to be effective, even if there are warnings provided to drivers. I think having cameras at intersections and along bike routes can help solve our hit-and-run crisis to assist the police in catching drivers who take off after an accident.|
|Tashara T. Earl (12)||Warning letters to car owners; Warning letters to Insurance companies|
Should the city allow residents to assist with (submit photos of) simple infractions of non-moving motor vehicles such as blocking sidewalks with cars for review and possible mail ticketing?
|Anne Schweitzer (1)||Yes. This can already occur through reporting to CSB, police, and the traffic division.|
|Matthew Kotraba (1)||Use available city services appropriately for citizens to report local issues.|
|Helen Petty (5)||Yes|
|Daniela Velazquez (6)||No|
|Cedric “C-Sharp” Redmon (7)||Yes, to residents submitting their own photos to help investigators, but No, to mailing tickets to a person house, we have a sheriffs department and those officers could serve those duties in a professional way. Mailing tickets seems a little predatory and will create more of a division between neighbors.|
|Shedrick “Nato Caliph” Kelley (8)||I would yes, but with guidelines around dates and times. As well as limitations to the number of times a submission could be made within a certain timeframe.|
|Michael Browning (9)||Yes|
|Emmett L Coleman (10)||We currently have a system in place where residents can take photos and file complaints with the Citizens Service Bureau(CSB) or contact our designated Neighborhood Improvement Specialist(NIS) to solve most non-moving motor vehicle infractions. I plan to go the extra mile to further communicate and collaborate with the NIS and CSB to obtain estimated timelines on resolving issues, relaying those timelines to residents to keep them updated on the status of their requests, and to collaborate with the city department employees and housing inspectors to ensure the issues are completed within a timely manner.|
|Tashara T. Earl (12)||Yes|
In the past few months, what different modes have you used to get around the city?
|Anne Schweitzer (1)||Drive alone, Carpool, Walking, Bicycle, Bus, Taxi / Rideshare|
|Matthew Kotraba (1)||Drive alone, Metrolink, E-Scooter / other micro-mobility|
|Helen Petty (5)||Drive alone, Carpool, Walking, Bicycle|
|Daniela Velazquez (6)||Drive alone, Carpool, Walking, Taxi / Rideshare|
|Cedric “C-Sharp” Redmon (7)||Drive alone, Walking, Metrolink, E-Scooter / other micro-mobility, Taxi / Rideshare|
|Shedrick “Nato Caliph” Kelley (8)||Drive alone, Carpool, Walking, Bicycle, Metrolink, Bus, E-Scooter / other micro-mobility|
|Michael Browning (9)||Drive alone, Carpool, Walking, Bicycle, Metrolink, Taxi / Rideshare|
|Emmett L Coleman (10)||Drive alone, Carpool, Walking, Bicycle, Metrolink, Bus, E-Scooter / other micro-mobility, Taxi / Rideshare|
|Tashara T. Earl (12)||Drive alone, Carpool, Walking, Bicycle, Taxi / Rideshare|
Questions in this section are exclusively open response.
2022 saw 18 pedestrian and 2 cyclist fatalities, and 171 pedestrian and 48 cyclist injuries. What is your vision for solving this problem?
|Anne Schweitzer (1)||I believe in the Vision Zero approach to build systems that prioritize safety first and foremost, bringing together transportation professionals, policymakers, and all stakeholders to work towards this goal together. That means knowing the data, and using that to guide decision making. The city budget needs to reflect the priorities of the community through community engagement and prioritizing areas that need the most attention and investment. The city must set a date to achieve this goal, and I’m hopeful this can be a priority of the Board of Aldermen in the upcoming session.|
|Matthew Kotraba (1)||Increased police prescience in assumed high incidents areas.|
|Helen Petty (5)||The use of technology to enforce traffic laws, increasing use of public transportation, stiffer repercussions for traffic violence, mandatory driver training programs for repeat offenders, and public education campaigns.|
|Daniela Velazquez (6)||The first step is making our streets safer by lowering the speed limit on high-traffic streets. At the same time, we need to invest in pedestrian enhancements on busy streets holistically and across the city.|
|Cedric “C-Sharp” Redmon (7)||My vision is having drivers actually respect traffic laws, speed limits, and traffic lights. Accidents happen, accidents are unfortunate and unpredictable. The best thing we can do as a city is continue to work to update and upgrade our infrastructure to meet the needs of all no matter their choice of transportation. The metro link needs better security, the buses need better ventilation, the bike lanes need to be barricaded to protect the cyclists from cars from merging, crosswalks needs to be elevated, intersections need to be safer. It’s a lot of work that needs to be done but my vision is to work with all the experts to comprise a plan to improve the quality of transportation in this city.|
|Shedrick “Nato Caliph” Kelley (8)||Harsher penalties around reckless driving (e.g. loss of your license for 5-10yrs), and increased fine amounts (double the current amount).|
|Michael Browning (9)||This numbers are horrifying, and likely an undercount. It is absolutely a policy choice to continue to let this happen. To address, we should move infrastructure planning and funding back to a central city department with the directive to connect existing pedestrian and bicycle networks. St. Louis’ future is walkable, and we need more leaders who prioritize people over cars and car infrastructure.|
|Emmett L Coleman (10)||I plan to reduce the number of pedestrian and cyclist injuries and deaths by sponsoring legislation for stricter pedestrian protections locally while also working with state lawmakers to do the same statewide. I will also facilitate the installation of traffic-calming measures within the new 10th Ward that would include more pedestrian and cyclist protections such as protected bike lanes, crosswalks, and curb extensions while fighting for these improvements citywide.|
|Tashara T. Earl (12)||I lost a family member cycling due to a drunk driver on Mardi Gras in 2019. I truly believe we must address this issue from all angles starting with enforcing drivers education for all new drivers. Parent with poor habits teaching teens how to drive creates irresponsible drivers. We should review the legalities of the red light cameras to fine the vehicle of the car and not the driver. We should install more bike lane visibility and safety infrastructure to better protect our pedestrian and cyclists. In addition, add more signage to the streets to bring more awareness to cycling in the city.|
In order to decrease carbon emissions, what would you do to increase the usage of public transportation or biking to work?
|Anne Schweitzer (1)||In the last few months, I’ve started commuting to work by MetroBus and encourage others to do the same. I support the North South MetroLink expansion and public information campaigns that encourage public transportation. I try to share my own experiences with public transit on social media. I support increased and improved biking infrastructure and more enforcement of traffic laws that are supposed to protect pedestrians, including, but not limited to, speed limits, parking or traveling in bike lanes, or parking motorcycles on sidewalks.|
|Matthew Kotraba (1)||Provide EV buses.|
|Helen Petty (5)||In order to increase the use of public transportation we need to expand the routes and make it more efficient and reliable. By looking at solutions like bus rapid transit lanes and the expansion of metro link we can make public transportation more useful for more people. Similarly, we can increase the use of biking to work by making it safer. Protected bike lanes city wide, narrowing arterials, and traffic calming measures can all be useful.|
|Daniela Velazquez (6)||First, we need to make our streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists. To increase the use of public transportation, prioritizing projects that focus on developing regional transportation, such as a North-South MetroLink, establishing a Bus Rapid Transit option and creating residential development projects near public transit. As a Board, we should pair our planning of public transit with investments in affordable housing, walkable neighborhoods, greenways and other holistic initiatives.|
|Cedric “C-Sharp” Redmon (7)||Depending on where some people work, public transit may not be an option, but I would definitely recommend it for recreational travel to the Forest Park, Downtown, Cardinals games as a method to beat traffic, parking cost and car break ins.|
|Shedrick “Nato Caliph” Kelley (8)||I would like to propose and/ move forward with developing a Rapid Bus Transit system. It would be about half as expensive compared to expanding the MetroLink, and could be completed in a shorter amount of time.|
|Michael Browning (9)||When you see a statistic like “36% of pedestrian crashes and 45% of pedestrian fatalities occur within 200 feet of a MetroBus stop in St. Louis city,” it becomes clear that using public transportation is not safe. We also know that it is not convenient. Improving the safety of infrastructure directly around bus and metro stops should be a priority. We also cannot expect people to take the bus if it takes 4 times longer than it takes to drive to their destination. Increasing the number of buses for major routes, hiring more drivers with better pay and benefits, and using technology to make it easy to use the bus are all good starts to making public transportation more convenient to use. We can also encourage new developments and employers to provide secure bike parking on site, as well as provide repair stations near common destinations. But at the end of the day, people won’t bike to work if they don’t feel safe on the roads, so it comes down to infrastructure and maintenance. Does St. Louis have a bike lane sweeper? It absolutely should.|
|Emmett L Coleman (10)||I am self-employed so I do not have to commute to work. I do, however, own only hybrid vehicles right now to reduce carbon emissions and fuel consumption. As an alderperson, I look to use public transit to commute to city hall. I plan to facilitate the installation of traffic-calming measures within the new 10th Ward, which would include more protected bike lanes, more highly-visible and protected ADA approved crosswalks, and road signage. I also plan to facilitate the installation of electric vehicle charging stations along commercial corridors within the new 10th Ward as well as enforce the installation of electric vehicle charging stations as part of any new mixed use development within the new ward to encourage more electrical vehicle usage in the city.|
|Tashara T. Earl (12)||I would highlight the benefits of taking public transportation and biking to work. In addition express how this helps our society’s air quality for our overall health. I would encourage the city to offer free public transportation to encourage more citizens to ride public transportation.|
City residents: don’t forget to vote in the St. Louis Primary Municipal Elections on March 7, 2023 and the General Municipal Elections on April 4, 2023.
Find your polling place here
Full list of candidates for the St. Louis Board of Aldermen
More information for voters in the City of St. Louis
Happy Trails, Taylor March!
From intern to Programs Director, Taylor March left a lasting impact on Trailnet and the St. Louis region. Now, he is taking his talents to the state level, advocating for better walking and biking across Missouri as the new Executive Director of Missourians for Responsible Transportation.
For eight years, Taylor was the smiling face of Trailnet. It’s only right that we reflect on the legacy he leaves behind—a legacy of kindness, knowledge, professionalism and passion.
Taylor first joined Trailnet as an intern in the winter of 2010, while he was studying environmental engineering at Murray State University. He had worked as a bike mechanic since high school and was an avid environmentalist.
Though he didn’t know it then, Taylor’s passion for Trailnet’s mission (and his handiness with an Allen wrench) would serve the organization for years down the line.
Five years after his internship, having worked for several years as a solar engineer in between, Taylor returned to Trailnet on February 24, 2015 as our Youth Programs Specialist.
In his first full-time role, he led Trailnet’s bike education programs and designed our curriculum for smart cycling. He also worked on a number of Safe Routes to School projects, including one with Froebel Literacy Academy in south city. Taylor worked with Froebel through eight years and a handful of title changes at Trailnet.
“Working with Froebel and seeing that relationship develop and change throughout the years was so satisfying,” said Taylor. “From the walking school bus, to the installation of speed humps on Nebraska Ave., to the Calm Street now under construction on nearby Louisiana Ave… It was really cool to see the community buy in.”
Advocating for Change
Midway through his tenure with Trailnet, Taylor shifted his focus to the advocacy and policy spaces. As a long-time bike commuter, he was a natural advocate for safe, alternative transportation. As a leading expert in bike/ped best practices, he influenced change-makers across the state. And as an exemplary colleague, he fostered relationships that would blossom into our strongest partnerships today. To name a few…
- Taylor co-created the annual Juneteenth Community Ride with our partners at 4theVille and grew the ride into a collaboration between the Missouri History Museum, Northside Community Housing and other aligned partners. The event draws over 200 riders each June and celebrates Black music, art, culture and history.
- Taylor was part of the team that developed Trailnet’s Connecting St. Louis Plan in 2019, which is now 50% funded for construction by partners like GRG and the City of St. Louis.
- Taylor spearheaded our state-wide advocacy efforts. In collaboration with BikeWalkKC, Local Motion in Columbia, and Ozark Greenways, he helped create Missourians for Responsible Transportation and Hands-Free Missouri.
The Work Continues
Now, Taylor is off to lead the statewide partnership that he once helped to create. Trailnet looks forward to many more years of collaboration with Taylor and his team at MRT.
“Trailnet will miss him and his careful and precise explanations of the transportation system we are trying to change, his help changing a flat, and his ability to always find time to listen,” said Trailnet CEO Cindy Mense.
For your years of dedication—Thank you, Taylor! Let’s continue to work together to make Missouri better for people outside of cars.
Trailnet says: Funding Process for Infrastructure Improvements in St. Louis City Needs to Change
Originally published by NextSTL.com
The next time you buy something in the City of St. Louis, take note of the sales tax at the bottom of the receipt. A portion of that tax has been the city’s primary means of funding infrastructure improvements since 1993. Thirty years later, the process for allocating that tax funding, called “Ward Capital,” is being reconsidered. Here’s why that number on your receipt matters, how the funding is currently being used and why the funding process needs to change.
The City of St. Louis currently has a ½-cent sales tax in place. This tax collects, on average, $8 million per year for capital improvements in the city. That sum is currently the City’s primary means of funding infrastructure improvements in all 28 wards.
At the beginning of each fiscal year, the $8 million total is split into 28 equal parts and distributed evenly to each ward. That’s about $300,000 per year, per ward, to be spent on capital improvement projects—filling potholes, replacing streetlights, street trees, improving sidewalks, etc.
If an alderperson chooses to spend their Ward Capital, they must first submit a project proposal. Once the project is approved, the alderperson takes the necessary funding from their pot of accrued Ward Capital and gives it right back to a city department. Ninety-eight percent of the Ward Capital from all 28 wards ends up in the hands of the Streets Department.
The current system is convoluted. It also further divides our city.
Our streets do not stop and start at ward boundaries, nor do each of these wards have the same needs. This system allocates funding equally, not equitably, and results in fractured, short-term solutions applied at the whims of 28 politicians.
A convoluted system
Let’s revisit the $300,000 per ward. That sounds like a lot of money, but according to St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Megan Green, recent traffic calming projects around Tower Grove Park cost over $1 million. Her ward received a grant for that work, but had Green relied solely on ward capital, she would have had to sit on her yearly allocation for at least four years to save enough money for those few improvements, and no other projects in her ward, such as street lighting or dumpster replacement, would have been funded in that timeframe.
In a recent interview with KSDK, Alderpersons Joe Vaccaro (Ward 23) and Sharon Tyus (Ward 1) also decried the system. Vaccaro, who consistently spends nearly all of his Ward Capital, is suspicious of his colleagues who sit on their funding. “’You can tell when you leave my ward,’ he said, pointing across the bridge into the 24th Ward. ‘This side’s paved. That side’s not.’”
Meanwhile, Tyus, who chairs the City’s Streets, Traffic, and Refuse Committee, has saved up nearly $2 million in Ward Capital over the years. Tyus has previously claimed obstacles to spending the money on her desired projects.
“‘They won’t spend it,’ she said at a board meeting in December. ‘They haven’t. I’ve been requesting. I can show you the letter.’”
Currently, alderpersons have $8 million in accumulated ward capital money that could be in use to repair our infrastructure.
Divisive and fractured
Whether they’re saving money for one big project or spending it on immediate needs, it’s clear that the current system leaves alders with no choice but to apply a patchwork of fixes to a city-wide network.
“Piecemeal solutions to a crisis that touches our entire city sets us up to fail time and time again,” said Mayor Tishuara Jones in October.
In her Riverfront Times Op-Ed, Mayor Jones hinted at a bigger-picture need, for which Trailnet has been desperately advocating—the need for a comprehensive plan in the City of St. Louis.
Ward-by-ward “piecemeal solutions” prevent the city from effectively planning for a safer, more accessible transportation network. If the Streets Department doesn’t know what projects lie ahead—if city departments are paralyzed by the inaction of individual leaders—they are not afforded the time or resources to plan for long-term fixes, staffing needs, or equipment purchases.
If the city continues to react only to the small-scale symptoms (potholes, crumbling curbs, etc.) of a large-scale, decades-old problem, our streets will never be safe for people outside of cars.
Whatever the new comprehensive system is, it needs to take into account the areas of greatest need.
Trailnet recently completed a full sidewalk assessment of The Ville and Greater Ville neighborhoods—the first complete study of its kind in the St. Louis area. Trailnet’s Community Planner walked over 30 miles of sidewalk, marking sections that were ADA-non-compliant, inaccessible or nonexistent. Forty-seven percent of the 61 miles of sidewalk assessed in The Ville and Greater Ville were in need of significant repair.
This study is emblematic of the largest issue with the current system—different wards have different needs. Trailnet’s annual Crash Reports identify the highest crash corridors across the city. Our analysis of crash data consistently reveals a glaring truth: Black and minority communities suffer from a disproportionate amount of traffic violence. The state of the streets, sidewalks and intersections on the Northside is one of the reasons why that disparity exists.
As a result of decades of disinvestment, Northside streets and sidewalks need far more attention and funding. It is unacceptable that all of these areas currently receive proportionate funding to address disproportionate realities.
The northside wards are the areas of highest need—the areas where it’s unsafe to walk, bike or catch a bus. These are the areas that must be identified as the highest priorities in the city’s comprehensive plan. These are the areas that must receive the largest investment from the ½-cent sales tax.
A number of systems might work more effectively than the current one. What matters most is that the current system be replaced by something better, something equitable, something that makes sense.
Trailnet’s recommendation is that the city do away with the ward-based capital improvement system. Instead, centralize the funding structure under one city department, and ensure that the money is being invested based on the infrastructure needs identified by a future comprehensive street study, as well as demographics such as poverty levels and car ownership. Treat the whole body, not its disparate parts, in pursuit of a safe system for everyone.
If you agree, contact the President of the Board’s office and your alderperson to voice your opinion. As the city moves from 28 to 14 wards this year, there will be many changes. A new and improved system for funding infrastructure improvements must be one of those changes, so that when you pay that sales tax, you know your money is being used to make our whole city better.
Trailnet will continue to advocate for a new system that better serves the people moving around our city. To stay informed on our advocacy work in the City, subscribe to our newsletters here.
Trailnet’s Work With The Ville & Greater Ville Neighborhoods
From our earliest collaborations, to the annual Juneteenth Community Ride, to transportation planning in 2022: What we’re working on in these historic neighborhoods, and why the work matters.
Since 2014, Trailnet has worked with community partners like 4TheVille and Northside Community Housing, Inc. within the Ville and Greater Ville neighborhoods to help plan for safer, slower, and greener residential streets.
Regular Trailnet riders will recognize the name 4TheVille—the community-based tourism and arts organization created by multi-generational Ville residents and volunteers to restore pride in the legacy of The Ville—as our perennial partner on the Juneteenth Community Ride. But our partnership has grown well beyond one ride.
EPA-Funded Traffic Calming
In 2019, Trailnet received a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem-Solving program. This funding was aimed at (1) making it easier for people in The Ville/Greater Ville to get around and (2) exploring opportunities for green infrastructure to address negative environmental and health impacts in the neighborhoods.
In September of 2021, Trailnet partnered with 4TheVille to host a pop-up park and traffic calming demonstration at MLK Drive and North Sarah Street. The event celebrated the Ville’s heritage, highlighted talented Black artists, and imagined the Ville’s potential.
The 2021 traffic calming pop-up event also allowed us to survey community residents on their current transportation patterns and priority areas for improvement:
The Cultural Boulevard
In 2022, we began consulting on 4TheVille’s Cultural Boulevard Project, which aims to transform a stretch of Dr. Martin Luther King Dr. into a walkable, bikeable hub of culture, history and economic development in North St. Louis.
“One of the things that impacts the residents of this community directly is unsafe streets… So we’re considering how this project can create safer streets in the community,” said 4TheVille Co-Founder Aaron Williams of the Cultural Boulevard Project.
Full Sidewalk Assessment
Also in May 2022, one Trailnet planner began an in-depth sidewalk assessment of The Ville & Greater Ville neighborhoods. Over the course of five months, she surveyed 68 miles of sidewalks! The completed map (right) is littered with colored marks, which represent sections of sidewalk that are inaccessible or in disrepair. This map is the first of its kind—a full sidewalk assessment for a single St. Louis neighborhood.
In early 2023, Trailnet along with our partners will have completed a plan—called the Low-stress, Green, Bicycle-and-Pedestrian Infrastructure (LGBPI) plan—which we’re hoping, along with last year’s community survey results and this year’s sidewalk assessment, will inform the City of St. Louis’ future investments in safer Streets for All.
The Ville & Greater Ville neighborhoods comprise 1.4-square-miles of one of the most historically significant pockets of Black history, art and culture in the entire country. Yet, 100% of the census tracts in this once-thriving community have now been identified by the Department of Transportation’s Safe Streets and Roads for All discretionary program as environmentally, economically, and health disadvantaged.
These are also communities with disproportionately low rates of personal vehicle ownership and high rates of public transit use. Yet, years of disinvestment have left their sidewalks and streets inaccessible and unsafe for people outside of cars.
As Trailnet aims to direct our local advocacy efforts toward the areas of greatest need, we will continue to implore local leaders to invest in neighborhoods like The Ville & Greater Ville, with the hope that someday soon our streets will be safe and accessible for everyone, everywhere.
Board Bill 120: What is it, and why should you care?
|The infrastructure bill that could reshape our most dangerous streets|
A bill was recently sent to committee by the City of St. Louis Board of Aldermen that could finally address some of the issues plaguing our streets. Here’s what you need to know about Board Bill 120:
- In 2021, The City of St. Louis received nearly $500 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding, to be spent by 2026.
- In response to a particularly dangerous summer for people who walk, bike and use mobility devices, Mayor Jones pledged to invest at least $40 million of ARPA funding in safer streets.
- Thus, BB#120 was born. The initial version of the bill, sponsored by Ward 3 Alderman Brandon Bosley, allocates $74 million of ARPA funding to invest in infrastructure.
- $40 million will go to the Board of Public Service for traffic calming, roadway and ADA improvements on corridors with the highest need.
- $9.58 million will go to the Streets Department for sidewalk improvements and a mobility and transportation master plan.
Trailnet hopes, as this bill makes its way through the legislative process, the city considers adding a few details:
- A provision for drivers education, which is not currently required in the state of Missouri,
- A provision for a media campaign to encourage responsible driving,
- A provision for equitably implemented enforcement, such as automated enforcement, which would reduce traffic violence and dangerous driving behaviors without adding to current racially biased enforcement strategies,
- A line item that explicitly names the city’s commitment to Vision Zero, and the creation of a position to oversee and follow-through on said commitment to a Vision Zero plan.
This amount of money, if used correctly, could be seriously transformative—the first draft of the bill proposes over 4x the average yearly annual budget that goes toward street maintenance in the city.
This is a massive step in the right direction. Trailnet is proud of the part we have played in advocating for these changes. Now we look forward to helping the City make these improvements as quickly and effectively as possible, so that sometime in the near future, our Streets can truly be for All.
Read more about Board Bill 120.
City residents: talk to your alderperson about what you think is missing from this bill.
Trailnet Board Recommends Strategic Use of Funding
St. Louis, MO – The Board of Directors of Trailnet support the following statement:
The Trailnet Board commends Mayor Tishaura Jones for proposing that the City commit $40 million to a comprehensive, city-wide street plan. We recommend the Board of Estimate and Apportionment and the Board of Aldermen pass this much-needed legislation with the provision that a portion of those funds be spent on a Vision Zero Action Plan and a media campaign to encourage responsible driving.
We also call on other organizations and individuals to get behind both initiatives and send letters and emails to the Board of Estimate and Apportionment and the Board of Aldermen. Together, we may make our streets safer for all.