Last week Trailnet, along with other organized bike, pedestrian, and trail advocates, urged members of the Missouri House Conservation Committee to vote “NO” on HB 2047, which would allow motorized traffic (ATVs and golf carts) on the Katy Trail. The committee will most likely vote on the bill this week.
We sent our comments to the committee Wednesday, February 10, outlining the reasons behind our opposition. To see our full comments, click here.
At this time we only want to make you aware of the bill’s existence. No action on your part is requested since the bill may die in committee. The bill will likely lose traction because of its recently estimated fiscal impact to implement: it would cost the state over $40 million to accommodate ATVs and golf carts. This news may change the minds of the bill’s supporters.
Still, if the bill moves forward in the legislative process, we’ll send an advocacy alert to mobilize public opposition to the bill.
Shortly after our opposition email was sent to the house committee, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch published a story about the bill, and much more opposition to the bill was generated. We hope this dialogue continues. The Katy Trail is meant to cater to those who wish to enjoy active lifestyles in a natural setting without the dangers of motor vehicle traffic. We’re ready to work to keep it that way for the many benefits it provides to people and our economy. Stay tuned to our social media sites for updates.
Trailnet’s initial group of 12 Walk Bike Ambassadors are now trained advocates! Their day-long training on January 23 featured a variety of activities and speakers, including St. Louis Alderman Christine Ingrassia and St. Louis County Councilor Pat Dolan, who provided their views on effective advocacy. Richard VonGlahn of Missouri Jobs With Justice presented a two-hour “empowerment training,” outlining key elements of organizing people and campaigns.
The Ambassadors are developing their plans for the year, which will focus on at least one of Trailnet’s priority campaign issues. They will work in their respective communities to build relationships with key leaders and organize residents who are supportive of Trailnet’s work.
As detailed in the Post-Dispatch, MODOT’s 2015 plan for re-paving and replacing some old signals on Gravois in the City of St. Louis also proposed several street closures; that last item was wildly unpopular. Now, nine months later, MODOT has unveiled a new plan for Gravois and the street closures are no longer part of it. The new Gravois plan will be presented to the public in an “open house” format on January 12th, from 4-7 pm at the Five Star Senior Center, 2832 Arsenal Street. Trailnet will submit comments to MODOT on whether this new plan goes far enough to improve walkability, bikeability, traffic safety and opportunities for economic development on Gravois. Come out to the January 12th meeting, take a look at the plans, talk to MODOT, talk to Trailnet (we’ll be there), and decide what you think!
Twelve energetic, engaged and diverse individuals were recently selected from among 45 applicants to be Trailnet’s first Walk/Bike Ambassadors. They are: Deidre Brown, Florissant; Jodi Devonshire, City of St. Charles; Chris Freeland, St. Louis (Tower Grove East); Robin Medici, St. Louis (Northhampton); Chris Mileski, Wildwood; Aaron Mollette, St. Louis (Holly Hills); Michele Oesch, St. Louis (Skinker/DeBaliviere); Margie Oliver, Hazelwood; Don Orf, St. Louis (St. Louis Hills); Steven Peyton, Belleville; Ramona Scott, St. Louis (Greater Ville); and Patty Szymkowicz, Chesterfield. These folks will have a day-long training session later this month and then volunteer time to expand awareness of Trailnet and to build our advocacy capacity in the region. They’ll develop relationships with community leaders, participate in advocacy campaign events, promote active living, and recruit other Trailnet supporters (and potential future ambassadors). Stay tuned for more updates!
New transportation bill preserves bicycle and pedestrian funding
Congressional negotiators reached an agreement Tuesday on a new five-year, $305 billion transportation bill, but once again failed to find a long-term way to pay for transportation. The new bill, called Fixing America’s Surface Transportation, or FAST, cobbles together federal gas tax revenues and $70 billion in transfers from other areas of the federal budget, such as selling oil from the Strategic Reserve ($6 billion), and raiding the Federal Reserve’s “rainy day fund” ($19 billion). FAST is expected to pass both chambers by December 4, when transportation spending was set to expire. President Obama is likely to sign the bill this week.
According to the Washington Post, FAST increases money for pedestrian and bicycle programs and protects funding for transit. Other reports have indicated that funding for pedestrian and bicycle programs will remain status quo. More details will emerge soon, but it looks like a significant win since such programs have been threatened with cuts during the transportation bill development process.
Locally, we expect Safe Routes to School programs as well as bicycle and pedestrian projects to continue to be funded and to get more people moving.
The lobbying work of Trailnet staff and supporters, and that of many advocates across the country, made a difference over the past year. In addition, a debt of gratitude is owed for the diligent work of Sen. Barbara Boxer and Rep. Peter DeFazio, alternative transportation advocates in their own right and vice-chairs of their respective transportation committees.
Trailnet moves Calm Streets project forward with study tour
One of the best ways to advocate for better infrastructure is to allow decision-makers to experience best-practice designs first hand. We do live in the Show-Me state after all. Knowing this to be the case, Trailnet took City of St. Louis staff, elected officials, and partners to Portland, Oregon August 17 to 20. The study tour was part of Trailnet’s Calm Streets project—a project with the purpose of promoting the creation of a Calm Street network in the City of St. Louis. Calm streets are residential streetstransformed to reduce speeding and provide safety for everyone traveling there. On calm streets, traffic calming measures are used to reduce the volume and speed of motorized vehicles; increase space for landscaping and managing stormwater; and increase comfort for those walking and biking.
From left to right: Alderman Shane Cohn, Community Liaison Wendy Campbell, City of St. Louis Traffic Commissioner Deanna Venker, community partner Matthew Green of Park Central Development, and Alderman Scott Ogilvie get ready for the trip’s first bike tour of Calm Streets.
For two days, Trailnet’s Director of Strategic Initiatives, Jennifer Allen, led tour participants to meet with City of Portland staff and local organizations to learn about how Portland created successful Calm Streets and other low-stress infrastructure. They biked Calm Streets and protected bike lanes. They learned about the profound impacts rain gardens can have in managing stormwater as part of Calm Street design. They learned new best-practices and discovered new strategies for making a Calm Street network a reality in the City of St. Louis.
From left to right: Community Liaison Ramona Scott, Community Liaison Wendy Campbell, City of Portland Capital Program Manager Dan Layden, community partner Matthew Green of Park Central Development, and community partner Josh Goldman of Urban Strategies.
The tour was profoundly successful. It significantly strengthened the partnerships of those involved and everyone walked away with important realizations and strategies critical to the project’s success. Perhaps most importantly, the group came to understand that creating Calm Streets is really a low-hanging- fruit project that will meet many of the City’s goals, such as building more complete streets and reducing pedestrian injuries and fatalities.
Project partners do a mini-charette with City of Portland staff and the Bicycle Transportation Alliance. City of St. Louis Director of Operations Todd Waelterman, Alderman Shane Cohn, and Board of Public Service Planning and Program Manger John Kohler pictured left to right in back.
One of the tour’s greatest impacts was strengthening relationships with City of Portland staff and providing tools to the City of St. Louis. After the tour, City of St. Louis Traffic Commissioner Deanna Venker, requested Portland’s design specs for traffic-calming design elements used on Portland’s Calm Streets. She, other Streets Department staff, and Aldermen are now working to create a traffic-calming policy for the City of St. Louis to describe permissible traffic-calming designs in the city. This policy is an important step along the way to seeing Calm Streets built with high-quality design.
Aldermen Cara Spencer and Scott Ogilvie check out a world-class protected bike lane
The current phase of The Calm Streets Project includes selecting pilot Calm Streets routes and devising strategies for creating a full network in the future. The Calm Streets Project is funded, in part, by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Word choice matters. The words “Crash” and “Accident” are often used to describe the same event, but in reality each word conjures up very different images. An “accident” just happens. Accidents can’t be reasonably predicted or avoided. A “crash,” on the other hand, is the result of choices made and risks disregarded. Crashes don’t just happen; somebody is at fault in a crash.
A majority of fatal road crashes are caused by intoxicated, speeding, distracted, or careless motorists. They are NOT just unfortunate events. The victims were NOT simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Deadly crashes in the St. Louis region this year are too numerous to list here. They include the January crash precipitated by Hazelwood motorist William Goad, who was driving more than twice the speed limit on Gallatin Lane in Bridgeton when he struck and killed Bridgeton resident Duane Johnson, who was riding his bicycle. That was no accident. More recently, in September, the 18th pedestrian fatality in the City of St. Louis this year occurred when a hit and run driver sped through St. Louis’ Fairground Park on a Sunday afternoon and killed Nathaniel Thomas, 29, as he crossed the street. That was no accident.
Trailnet, and many other transportation advocates, want to change how we talk about traffic collisions in this country. When one motorized vehicle careens into another, or turns into an oncoming cyclist, or rounds a corner right into a pedestrian — call it a “crash,” not an “accident.” Words matter, and the way car crashes are framed has a powerful effect on how they are perceived. If thousands of preventable traffic injuries and deaths per year are described as accidental, why bother with thorough investigations to uncover root causes and determine potential solutions?
A movement to end traffic deaths and disabling injuries known as Vision Zero, which began as an Act of Parliament in Sweden in 1997, is gaining traction in the U.S. where traffic fatalities are twice that of EU countries and almost twice that of Canada.
Vision Zero is a philosophy, a policy, and a paradigm shift. It holds that “all traffic deaths and serious injuries are unacceptable and preventable.”
The U.S. Conference of Mayors endorsed Vision Zero this year, and ten cities including New York, San Antonio, Los Angeles and Seattle are developing or implementing Vision Zero plans.
Vision Zero cities have taken these steps:
The Mayor has publicly, officially committed to Vision Zero.
A clear goal of eliminating traffic fatalities and severe injuries has been set.
A Vision Zero plan or strategy is in place, or the Mayor has committed to doingso in clear time frame.
Key city departments (including police, transportation and public health)are engaged.
Vision Zero is a Trailnet priority because the St. Louis region is now at a five‐year high for traffic deaths. It’s time to systematically address and ultimately end the crash carnage. Trailnet urges Mayor Slay to publicly announce a commitment to Vision Zero and embark on the other three steps necessary to make St. Louis a recognized Vision Zero city. We will be an engaged partner in this bold journey.
Safety is the priority for alternative transit in St. Louis
Trailnet, Missouri Department of Transportation, and Bi-State Development Agency advocate “Safe Roads for All” during National Bike to Work Day
Trailnet celebrated the St. Louis region’s 10th annual Bike to Work Day Friday, May 15. Sponsored by Great Rivers Greenway, Missouri American Water, and Saint Louis Bread Co., the event drew more than 560 cyclists dedicated to making biking a way of life in St. Louis. Sponsors, volunteers, and Trailnet staff hosted refueling stations throughout the area, offering coffee and bagels to all bike commuters. Bike to Work Day helps to build a sense of community, promotes environmentally-friendly modes of travel, and inspires people to maintain healthy, active lifestyles.
Ralph Pfremmer, Trailnet’s executive director, stressed the importance of installing bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure to improve the health of local communities as well as the environment. “For the future, it’s critical that the expansion of well-designed bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure continue,” Pfremmer said. “By increasing safe and pleasant opportunities for walking and biking, we will build the confidence of our users and improve public health and the environment. These assets of our community will most certainly attract and retain talented young people and entrepreneurs, adding to the vitality and economic prosperity of our region.
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.