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.