By David Maldonado, Development and Member Engagement Coordinator
Great teamwork, Saint Paul! Last week, with support from local residents, Saint Paul City Councilmembers unanimously voted to approve bicycle and pedestrian improvements on Margaret Street between Forest and McKnight avenues. These improvements will establish an east-to-west route for and through the East Side of Saint Paul, providing a connection to the Saint Paul Grand Round and existing bicycle lanes on Johnson Parkway, Ruth Street, and McKnight Road.
With this project moving forward, the city is taking another important step toward making biking and walking safe and enjoyable for people of all ages and abilities. Margaret Street is designated as a bike boulevard, complete with pavement markings and signage, and plans to install traffic calming circles, sidewalks, crossing bump outs, and ADA compliant ramps by 2018. The project is funded through a grant from the Metropolitan Council and the Federal Street Transportation Program funds, so no property owners are being assessed for these improvements.
TLC-Smart Trips is committed to bringing better transportation options to the East Side of Saint Paul and the Margaret Street improvements are a step in a great direction.
For the last six months, TLC and Smart-Trips, Women on Bikes, Saint Paul Bicycle Coalition, and many other advocates focused on ensuring community voices were represented. Last fall Councilmember Prince led a ride of the project site and community members talked through the project details and issues. TLC-Smart Trips held a phone-banking event to remind residents about the hearing and encouraged them to contact their councilmember and share their stance on the project.
Leading up to the meeting, councilmembers received over 30 supportive messages expressing a desire for stronger and safer bicycle and pedestrian improvements on the East Side. This trend continued at the hearing when supportive attendees were asked to stand. Over 30 people stood, and 10 community members spoke. When asked to stand and speak in opposition, no one stood, and no one spoke.
The community’s overwhelming support voiced at this hearing will lead to tangible change before the year’s end. With this much-needed win for biking and walking on the East Side, we encourage community members and elected officials to continue the great work and to continue to prioritize people-centered planning.
Thank you Saint Paul City Councilmembers for your unanimous support, and to all who wrote, spoke, and worked to move this exciting project forward on the East Side!