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Ron Effland, Trailnet Champion

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Ron Effland has worked for the Missouri Department of Transportation for over 25 years. In that time, his job roles have evolved and he has helped to spur an important evolution in the way the department thinks about transportation.

froebelbike21Trained as a civil engineer, Ron initially ran a district engineering department. After passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, his focus shifted to designing intersections that would allow for safe crossing by individuals with disabilities. For the last five years, Ron has served as the state’s “Non-Motorized Transportation Engineer,” or as Ron refers to himself, the “state bike-ped coordinator.” These state positions, created by the Federal Department of Transportation, are intended to serve as internal advocates for the needs of pedestrians and bicyclists.

Ron’s job involves writing statewide policies and procedures related to bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, but more importantly, efforts to change the culture of transportation from one that has traditionally been exclusively about cars. Ron acknowledges that state transportation departments are not always enthusiastic about including bicyclists and pedestrians as a part of their responsibility.

“Somewhere along the way, transportation departments forgot to include people,” Ron said. “Our job is to give people options for how to get from place to place. If we are working on improvements to a downtown intersection, we have to realize that people might be in a car, but they could also be on foot, on a bike, in a wheelchair, or using public transit. We have to think about how the bus stop interacts with the crosswalk that interacts with the traffic signals. The challenge is to keep our eye on the big picture.”

One of the challenges Ron has faced is that transportation engineers often have a difficult time seeing important clues in that big picture.

“If you have a lot of traffic backups and delays and crashes, engineers understand that,” Ron said. “If you have a road with no sidewalk and there is a worn path in the grass next to the road, that means that there are pedestrians who have no safe place to walk and we should put a sidewalk there.”

Although Ron spends much of his time in offices in Springfield and Jefferson City, he also does a lot of outreach, some of his most creative and enjoyable work. To help his engineers understand the challenges of navigating with a disability, Ron procured a collection of wheelchairs and white canes.

“I take engineers out in the field and have them cross streets in a wheelchair or use a cane to feel their way along,” Ron said. “It really changes their perspective on what it is like to try and get around while dealing with a disability.”

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To further his efforts on behalf of bicyclists, Ron applied for a grant several years ago to create his “Walk ‘n Roll” trailer. The twenty-four-foot trailer is filled with bikes of various sizes, parts, tools, helmets, cones and yield and stop signs. He uses the trailer in much the same way that he uses the wheelchairs.

“I put traffic engineers on bikes and show them what it’s like to negotiate roads and intersections on a bicycle,” Ron Said.

Ron recalls his personal experiences with bicycles while growing up: “I’ve been riding a bike forever. In the small town where I grew up that is how kids got around.” To share that experience with other children, Ron frequently takes his trailer on the road to provide biking opportunities and bike education for kids around the state.

froebelbike16-copyFor the last few years, Trailnet has worked with a number of St. Louis County elementary schools to put on Bike Weeks. These events provide opportunities for children to learn about bike handling skills, rules of the road, and proper fitting of bike helmets. Ron has been a valuable partner, contributing helmets, loaner bikes, and his skills as an educator.

“There is just nothing like seeing a kid’s face light up when you put them on a bicycle…and the great pride that they feel if they can get rid of their training wheels,” Ron said.

froebelbike1In October, Trailnet sponsored the first ever Bike Week at Froebel Literacy Academy in Dutchtown. With Ron’s help and his fleet of bicycles, over two hundred students received bike helmets and got a chance to practice biking through an obstacle course or to do some free riding around the playground.

Froebel’s Family and Community Specialist Von Smith said, “It was a great experience for our students to be able to ride ‘with the wind’ and receive a cool helmet for participating!” Many of the students asked if Trailnet would be coming back again the following week.

usbrs_logoOne of the highlights of Ron’s work with MoDOT is the completion of U.S. Bike Route 76 – The TransAmerica Bike Route through Missouri, the first U.S. Bike Route that was signed west of the Mississippi.

“At each turn there are three signs – a warning sign, a sign at the turn, and a confirmation after the turn,” Ron explained. “Every 10 miles you’ll also see a sign along the route. So as you go across the state, you don’t even need a map, although Bike Route 76 is printed on the back of our MoDOT maps now.”

We at Trailnet are grateful to have a strong voice at the state level looking out for the needs of pedestrians and bicyclists. For his part, Ron realizes the important role that groups like Trailnet play: “I’ve developed partnerships with all of the local advocacy organizations. My hope is that we can all work together to decide on what goals are most important and join forces to accomplish those goals.” Ron welcomes your input. If you have ideas, questions, suggestions or concerns that you would like to share, e-mail Ron at ronald.effland@modot.mo.gov

Movers & Shakers: Connecting St. Louis

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Join Trailnet for the unveiling of its bold vision for connecting St. Louis!

Movers & Shakers, our biggest fundraiser of the year, will feature cocktails, dinner, a silent auction, and keynote speaker Brian Payne, founder of the Indianapolis Cultural Trail.

For information about helping to sponsor this event, view our sponsorship packet.

For individual tickets, click here.

 

Movers & Shakers: Connecting St. Louis

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Join Trailnet for the unveiling of its bold vision for connecting St. Louis!

Movers & Shakers, our biggest fundraiser of the year, will feature cocktails, dinner, a silent auction, and keynote speaker Brian Payne, founder of the Indianapolis Cultural Trail.

For information about helping to sponsor this event, view our sponsorship packet.

For individual tickets, click here.

 

Walk Bike Ambassador Profile: Chris Freeland

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Chris Freeland power cleans his bicycle after completing Trailnet's Ride the Rivers Century

Chris Freeland power cleans his bicycle after completing Trailnet’s Ride the Rivers Century, making everyone else feel extra weak. Way to go, Chris!

Trailnet’s 12 Walk Bike Ambassadors are located throughout the St. Louis region. They help address walking and biking issues in their communities and assist Trailnet in advocacy campaigns and events. We’re excited to tell you about their recent successes!

Chris Freeland has deep roots in the Tower Grove East (TGE) neighborhood of St. Louis.  He’s lived there for 16 years, is a past president of the TGE neighborhood association, and has built many productive relationships with elected officials and other TGE neighborhood residents.  Tower Grove East is an area where many residents walk, bike and use transit.  A passion for bike safety was one of the factors that motivated Chris to apply to Trailnet’s Walk Bike Ambassador program.  Chris has increased many TGE residents’ bike safety awareness and bike route IQ by organizing group rides from the neighborhood to the Riverfront Trail and back.  He also reached a personal milestone this year by completing his first 100-mile century ride in Trailnet’s Ride the Rivers event. Next year Chris will be designing a community bike ride route for Trailnet to tour libraries of St. Louis, which is a natural for someone who works as a librarian at Washington University!  Chris will also work with Trailnet on TGE community outreach when the City completes a design proposal for traffic calming improvements on Louisiana Ave.  In his spare time Chris and his husband, also named Chris, are often busy with their soap making business.  Their product can be found at a number of local stores in the Tower Grove area, and at various community events.

Trailnet’s April Champion, Susan Rollins

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SusanRollinsBikeBrightSince her first Trailnet ride ten years ago, Susan Rollins has participated in many Trailnet rides, has been a volunteer, and now serves as a member of Trailnet’s Board.

So what is so great about being on a bike? Susan’s reply: “Cycling keeps me sane; being outside with the fresh air on my face combined with the challenge of the ride calms my soul and gives me a peace that I can’t find anywhere else.” She plans to spend lots of time on her bike this year, including her first multi-day trip, starting in Savannah, Georgia and pedaling around the coastal islands, New York’s Five Boro Bike Tour, and Bike the Drive in Chicago. She also hopes to ride the length of the Katy Trail, and to begin commuting to work by bike at least a couple of days a week.

In her role as Executive Director of the St. Louis County Housing Authority, Susan sees the possibilities that bicycles have for easing the transportation challenges faced by many low-income residents. “Our clients do not have the dollars needed to purchase or maintain a car. So even if you have a job but lack transportation, how do you survive?” Rollins is convinced that creating communities where walking and biking are safe alternatives would provide access not only to jobs and school, but also to better food options and other vital facilities. “Ideally I would like all of our public housing children to own a bike and learn how to ride. I see them visiting libraries, recreational centers, and neighborhood pools. I see them visiting each other and feeling like a part of a community. I see myself riding with our children and showing them how access to transportation can take you to places you never thought existed.”

As a Trailnet Board member, Susan Rollins is dedicated to seeing that vision come true. She feels that realizing Trailnet’s goal of connecting our region through a network of protected bikeways and neighborhood greenways can make St. Louis one of the best places to live in the country. “It is only Trailnet that can put St. Louis on the map as a community that embraces walking and cycling. If we want to look like Indianapolis, Trailnet has the expertise to make that happen. If we want to look like Portland, Trailnet can make it happen. We just have to work hard to raise the funds to make this bold vision a reality.”

Biking and Walking Makes Cents – February 24, 2015

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kickstand-3647smallTrailnet 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.

kickstand-3664smallThe 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.

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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.

kickstand-3763smallExecutive 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.”

 

Special thanks to our charter business members:

Pedestal Foods, Britt Hunt, CEO

XLR8, Rick Duree, CEO

Duree Center for Entrepreneurship, Rick Duree, Founder

Retro Image Apparel, Michele and Jim Sherman, owners

Confluence Business Advisors, Ron Tanner and Dave Fingerhut, partners

 

Collaborate with us

kickstand-3643smallAs 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 – kbarnes@trailnet.org, 314.436.1324 x 104

Thanks to everyone who made the event a success:

Kaori Yazawa and the Venture Cafe team, Dennis Lower and the Cortex Innovation Community, and Pedestal Foods.

Visit our Facebook page to view more photos from the event.

Special thanks to our photographer, Kelly Sleeper.

Stay tuned for our next Business Membership Event – coming this Summer!

Trailnet’s St. Charles County Epic Mountain Bike Event – January 17, 2015

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TRN Epic 2015 Schwigen-5031While the conditions for single track riding in Lost Valley and Klondike Park were too spongy, the Hamburg and Katy Trails utilizing the Great Rivers Greenway connector were almost ideal. For mid-January, the weather seemed more like spring. The day started out in the low 40s with bright sunshine. Our partner, Missouri Department of Conservation, hosted the start/finish at the Weldon Spring Conservation Area maintenance facility near Highway 94.

TRN Epic 2015 Schwigen-5077At 9:00 a.m., 60 cyclists were ready to roll and begin their 14-mile loop. With temperatures unseasonably warm, the frozen ground thawed and was slightly soggy. Though soggy, the two trails served as great routes for a pleasant ride. Cyclists returned smiling and slightly speckled with white limestone mud. After resting briefly and getting some nourishment, cyclists who made the loop in less than 2 hours jumped back on for another go-around.

TRN Epic 2015 Schwigen-4996While the cyclists were out, Trailnet’s new Executive Director, Ralph Pfremmer, prepared chili for the after-party. Ralph was also the day’s announcer, calling out some of the faster or muddier cyclists. By noon most of the cyclists had returned from one, two, or three laps of the course and were ready for chili with all the fixings.

TRN Epic 2015 Schwigen-5004They were also treated to cold beer from O’Fallon Brewery. St. Charles County Parks, another Epic partner, prepared handmade plaques from sections of local cedar trees for all cyclists– a cool reward for finishing a fun ride! By 2:00 p.m., temperatures were in the low 60s and cyclists ended the day with their fill of food and drink at the after-party.

TRN Epic 2015 Schwigen-5039Trailnet’s St. Charles County Epic Mountain Bike Event was funded, in part, by Great Rivers Greenway District, in partnership with Missouri Department of Conservation, Missouri State Parks, and St. Charles County Parks, and sponsored by Alpine Shop and The Bike Surgeon.

City Complete Streets bill passes unanimously!

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Trailnet’s Manager of Policy and Advocacy, Rhonda Smythe with Alderman Scott Ogilvie, and Trailnet’s Executive Director, Ralph Pfremmer

An update to St. Louis City’s Complete Streets policy passed on January 30, 2015 with unanimous support from the Board of Aldermen. Every aspect of our lives are impacted by the way our streets are designed and built.  The comprehensive and collaborative approach laid out in this bill will have significant impacts on the quality of life for St. Louisans.

Major updates include:

  1. A new framework for collaboration between City departments will be developed. The Departments of Health, Parks and Recreation, and Office of the Disabled will now have a formal seat at the table for the planning and implementation of future transportation projects. This means that air quality, public health, public safety, ADA improvements, and safe connections to major destinations will have a higher priority than in years past.
  2. Street design standards will be updated to reflect the most current best practices, guidelines, and recommendations issued by the USDOT. This means no more bike lanes in gutters and appropriate pedestrian signals!
  3. A targeted, data-driven approach to high crash intersections and corridors with prioritized improvements. Trailnet recently partnered with OpenDataSTL and Walker Hamilton to create an interactive map of bicycle and pedestrian crashes at http://bike-ped.confluencecity.com/. Tools like this enable data-driven decision making.
  4. Performance measures and benchmarks will be identified and assessed annually.

Alderman Ogilvie sponsored this important piece of legislation and continues to be a strong advocate for pedestrians, bicyclists, and people with disabilities. Many partners joined Trailnet in advocating for the Complete Streets update, including Paraquad, American Heart Association, AARP, YMCA, and numerous neighborhood advocates. Our deep and sincere thanks for the valuable work they do to support a more livable St. Louis!

 For more information on Complete Streets, click here.

 

St. Charles County Epic Mountain Bike Event (BFC)

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Route Options and Terrain
Costs and Registration
Epic Partners
Getting There
Volunteer


*EVENT UPDATE* Upon inspection, the warmer weather is thawing the Matson and Lost Valley trails causing them to be inadequate for bicycling. The competitive race option will not be available for the Epic Event. However, you can still join us on Saturday for the fun ride option, 14 miles on the Katy and Hamburg trails, and utilizing Great Rivers Greenway connector. If you registered for the competitive race option, watch for an email and join us on Saturday for the fun ride with sunny skies and warmer temps!

Join us for our inaugural St. Charles County Epic Mountain Bike Event. Ride in one or more of the following parks: Matson Hill Park, Klondike Park, Katy Trail State Park, and Lost Valley. All routes are off-road, consisting of single track and gravel. Road bikes are not recommended.


Route and Terrain

  • 14 mile fun ride on Katy and Hamburg Trails; mostly flat
  • Epic Fun

Long Route (Timed)


Costs

Fun ride – $20

Competitive (no longer available- see *EVENT UPDATE* at top of page)

  • Through June 1 – $40
  • June 2 through August 1 – $50
  • August 2 through November 15 – $60
  • After November 15 – $65

Registration price includes commemorative beanie and refreshments.

Prizes awarded on competitive ride: Men’s and Women’s open, Men’s and Women’s Masters and U20

Register online here.

On-site registration isn’t available but online registration is open until 7:00 a.m. on ride day, January 17.


Epic Partners

BIKE SHOP SPONSORS: Alpine Shop and the Bike Surgeon

alpineshopbs

 

 

FUNDED, in part, BY: the Great Rivers Greenway District

GRG

 

 

 

IN PARTNERSHIP WITH: Chipotle,  Missouri Dept. of Conservation, Missouri State Parks, O’Fallon BrewerySt. Charles County Parks.


Getting There

START: Weldon Spring Conservation Area, 6990 Missouri Highway 94, St. Charles, MO 63304

DIRECTIONS: Take Highway 40/64 to Highway 94, turn left (south). Go .8 miles. Turn left at the sign. Follow the signs for parking.

St. Charles County Epic Mountain Bike Event (BFC)

Tags: , , , ,

 


Route Options and Terrain
Costs and Registration
Epic Partners
Getting There
Volunteer


*EVENT UPDATE* Upon inspection, the warmer weather is thawing the Matson and Lost Valley trails causing them to be inadequate for bicycling. The competitive race option will not be available for the Epic Event. However, you can still join us on Saturday for the fun ride option, 14 miles on the Katy and Hamburg trails, and utilizing Great Rivers Greenway connector. If you registered for the competitive race option, watch for an email and join us on Saturday for the fun ride with sunny skies and warmer temps!

Join us for our inaugural St. Charles County Epic Mountain Bike Event. Ride in one or more of the following parks: Matson Hill Park, Klondike Park, Katy Trail State Park, and Lost Valley. All routes are off-road, consisting of single track and gravel. Road bikes are not recommended.


Route and Terrain

  • 14 mile fun ride on Katy and Hamburg Trails; mostly flat
  • Epic Fun

Long Route (Timed)


Costs

Fun ride – $20

Competitive (no longer available- see *EVENT UPDATE* at top of page)

  • Through June 1 – $40
  • June 2 through August 1 – $50
  • August 2 through November 15 – $60
  • After November 15 – $65

Registration price includes commemorative beanie and refreshments.

Prizes awarded on competitive ride: Men’s and Women’s open, Men’s and Women’s Masters and U20

Register online here.

On-site registration isn’t available but online registration is open until 7:00 a.m. on ride day, January 17.


Epic Partners

BIKE SHOP SPONSORS: Alpine Shop and the Bike Surgeon

alpineshopbs

 

 

FUNDED, in part, BY: the Great Rivers Greenway District

GRG

 

 

 

IN PARTNERSHIP WITH: Chipotle,  Missouri Dept. of Conservation, Missouri State Parks, O’Fallon BrewerySt. Charles County Parks.


Getting There

START: Weldon Spring Conservation Area, 6990 Missouri Highway 94, St. Charles, MO 63304

DIRECTIONS: Take Highway 40/64 to Highway 94, turn left (south). Go .8 miles. Turn left at the sign. Follow the signs for parking.