Update, don't overhaul
Rather than the proposed Summit Avenue regional bike trail, St. Paul should focus on proven and systemic low-cost safety enhancements to the existing bike lanes.
This project has repeatedly been presented as necessary to improve safety, despite no data provided by the city demonstrating Summit Avenue is more or less safe than a comparable St. Paul street.
As Minnesota works Toward Zero Deaths, understanding the incidence of bike and pedestrian injury within a larger traffic safety context is critical. From 2017-2021, 42,104 police-reported traffic crashes occurred in Ramsey County, and 111 people lost their lives. Pedestrians were 32% of these tragedies and bicyclists 3%.
In the project's 90% plan, the city expressly ignores the expertise of its consultant Bolton & Menk, a highly respected transportation engineering firm. The city has not yet explained why it completely disregards the paid consultant's primary engineering recommendation:
"It is recommended that additions to Summit Avenue should be as simple as possible and not change the existing curb lines whether it is within the 100-foot-wide or 200-foot-wide section of the avenue."
That means no separated bike trail. St. Paul residents must contact their elected representatives and challenge why this $12 million project continues to move forward despite common sense, research and professional engineering recommendations to the contrary.
Karen Sprattler, St. Paul
The writer is a transportation safety consultant.