Question: Does St. Paul Hate Bikes and/or Bikers?

We called this website Cycle Twin Cities and not Cycle Minneapolis for a reason.  From the beginning our intention has been to cover all things cycling in both Minneapolis and St. Paul, but the more we report, the more it appears that many of St. Paul’s residents are not big fans of cycling.

First, it is important to note that this is just our perception and admittedly we have a Minneapolis bias, as our headquarters are located here.  But we would love to hear from St. Paulites on this issue, so feel free to sound off in the comments or send us a counter-point article, we would love to post it.

Now, in the last week and a half we have seen two different incidents that seem to reinforce our previous beliefs.

1) Jefferson Avenue Bikeway Debacle.  We don’t know how else to describe what happened here.  For those that need a refresher, the Jefferson Ave Bikeway was a story that we first covered in January 2011, over a year after it had initially been proposed and a request for public comments had been issued.  Since that time, the City council has fought against the court of public opinion to finally get it through committee and to the point of voting at the full City Council.  Mind you, this is all to build a bikeway that is almost all funded with Federal money!  Also, we aren’t talking about a dedicated bike path, Greenway or some other mega-expensive cycling only project, this was simply attempting to add some traffic calming dividers, roundabouts and signage letting drivers know that cyclists and pedestrians would be using the street often.  The results of this huge effort?  Well in the words of Julie from Ride Boldly! blog, “Meh.” You can read about the entire saga here, but the cliff notes version is that after years (literally) of work, a last-minute amendment stripped away some of the traffic calming that made the project attractive in the first place.

2) Pleasant Street Some other street King of the Mountain (KOM).  So imagine this, a lazy quiet street (glorified alley actually) with a steep incline, Sunday morning, 9am St. Paul, 42 cyclists taking turns racing up the long glorified alley two at a time until a winner is crowned KOM.  Maybe one or two dozen spectators.  Sound like a pretty nice – non-disruptive neighborhood activity?  Not in St. Paul.  Minneapolis Musette’s planned Pleasant Street KOM had to be moved last week after the neighborhood association contacted the St. Paul Police Department and said “Not on my street”!

After these seemingly back-to-back issues, we are left scratching our head, what is happening in St. Paul?  Do residents really dislike cycling that much?

We would love to hear some responses, those of you who call St. Paul home, let us know how wrong we are.

This entry was posted in Twin Cities Cyclist and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Question: Does St. Paul Hate Bikes and/or Bikers?

  1. St. Paul hates itself. Everything else is collateral damage.

    However, insofar as the rules of the city go, and the residents of Pleasant, I have some sympathy. 42 riders is actually quite a few, and under city code might require an event permit. And having that many riders around on Pleasant at ANY time/date creates a bit of a clusterfuck for residents — that’s enough to severely bollux their ability to get in or out of their homes.

  2. Saint Paul is very neighborhood focused. So, I wouldn’t say that the city as a whole hates cycling/cyclists. Also, like many things with new infrastructure, there’s a strong “not in my backyard” movement that grows around even well thought out and vetted ideas. It happend with Kenilworth when I lived in Minneapolis, it happens with Edina residence thinking the bikers will get their kids hooked on “the drugs”, it happens everywhere. So, “meh..” might be appropriate, especially when we’re talking about how government works.

    Due to that same neighborhood focus, you find Mac/Groveland a little more bike friendly, but they have had Summit Avenue with bike lanes for years. This stuff just takes time. Sad to say it, but it does.

    Personally, I say throw all the bike infrastructure in now while the money is there. It’s always easier to apologize than it is to ask for permission. (*See Portland, OR)

  3. St. Paul has their regulations and their policies. And they like them, on the whole, even when their application turns into a shitshow, as it did with the Cupcake development, as it did with the Jefferson Bikeway. And, like most provincial towns, their solution to get out of the mess in both cases were backroom deals that were entirely outside of statute.

    When you play ball their way, you can get quite a bit done. When I dealt with Kathy Lantry’s office after a fatal accident on Warner Road, it was a delight. When I’ve dealt with public safety/paramedic after bike accidents, they are fantastic and have it all over dealing with Minneapolis’ side of the river for similar incidents.

    The neighborhoods in St. Paul hate things they see as imposed by those outside the enclave. You do see some of this in Minneapolis as well (hi Linden Hills!). And, like anywhere else, most neighborhoods are full of a silent majority who don’t give a rip either way and don’t want to go to public meetings full of weenies on either side of the issue.

  4. Bryce says:

    I have an issue with claiming that just because a few people don’t want 42 riders racing on their street somehow makes all of St. Paul not bike friendly. You have to realize that these people live on Summit Ave in $million+ mansions – they’re used to getting what they want – they want as little disturbances as possible. It has (almost) nothing to do with bikes, it has everything to do with a NIMBY mentality. The wealthy like peace and quiet – that’s why most of them move to Orono and North Oaks – those in St. Paul aren’t so different.

    Try organizing a race (KOM, w/e) in the ally behind the wealthiest street in Minneapolis, I’ll bet you’ll get a similar reaction.

  5. Dana D. says:

    I agree with the Michael that Saint Paul is heavily neighborhood based and that is a different dynamic than Minneapolis. Saint Paul is not anti-bike so much as some neighborhoods are anti-change and anti-outsider. The Jefferson Bike Boulevard was only a problem in the Highland Park area; the other neighborhoods along the boulevard have embraced it and welcomed it. The Griggs Bike Boulevard faced minimal objections and neighbors and the city were able to reach a compromise; it’s also not in Highland Park which helps.

    My neighborhood (Hamline-Midway) would estatically welcome more bike infrastructure and have elected Russ Stark twice, the prior executive director of St. Paul Smart Trips and a big bike advocate.

    I’ve lived in both cities and been involved with neighborhood politics in both. Saint Paul is its own animal. Did you know that residents are resposible for their own alley maintanence and snow plowing? Block by block residents have to hire a plower and pay him themselves. Some alleys are dirt, some asphalt, some concrete and so on depending on how organized or how much residents care. This was bizarre to me when I first moved here, but it is indicative how Saint Paul operates.

    Ultimately, though, Saint Paul is punk as f*ck and doesn’t need your stupid bike infrastructure.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s