Wheelock Bike Path in St Paul

05 Jan 2018 16:09 #2839 by Mark Croix
Mark Croix created the topic: Wheelock Bike Path in St Paul

First, would like to say that I support bikers. I use my bike for recreation, and do not commute, but support those who do. Second, my question is not meant to be confrontational (sometimes tone gets confused with the written word).

I live on Wheelock Parkway in St Paul, near Como Lake. This fall, the city reconstructed Wheelock, and added a bike path on the South side of Wheelock, between the sidewalk and curb, as part of the Grand Round.

Since the completion of the project, I've seen a few bikers. Typicaly in the morning, or in the evening, as I am not home during the day. All of the bikers I have seen were riding in the street. I haven't seen any bikers using the new bike path.

I'm just curious why? The bike path seems like an obviously better choice, and far more safe. Most of the residents that I heard speak at community meetings or in casual chats on the sidewalk were quite upset about the bike path in the first place. They felt it was a waste of money, and the residents on the South side of the street now have a sidewalk much closer to their house in order to make room for the bike path.

I thought the bike path was a cool idea. But nobody seems to use it, and instead ride in the street. Again, I'm not being confrontational or sarcastic, just want to know what the reason for that might be?



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09 Jan 2018 13:35 #2845 by Joseph Olson
Joseph Olson replied the topic: Wheelock Bike Path in St Paul
It is winter. Saint Paul is building an Ice Place.
Things will be more active in April-November.

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10 Jan 2018 06:41 #2848 by Jeff Ramberg
Jeff Ramberg replied the topic: Wheelock Bike Path in St Paul

Similar situations have existed for years on some Minneapolis parkways, and I can testify they exist in other parts of the U.S. too.

For example, I spend winters in AZ and often walk my dog in a quiet residential neighborhood where there's a dandy bike lane on the street and a narrower sidewalk in the landscaped area behind the curb. Cyclists are frequently on the sidewalk instead of the bike lane and create difficulties for me & other folks with dogs, people pushing kids in strollers and other pedestrians.

As an avid cyclist for 30 years I've just had to accept that the behavior of some cyclists sometimes defies logic and good sense.


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12 Jan 2018 14:05 #2850 by Mark Thornsjo
Mark Thornsjo replied the topic: Wheelock Bike Path in St Paul
Always a good question why bike paths don't get used more. This is a cultural and civility issue in many ways, beyond the basic infrastructure question. Our society has a BIG problem facing us vis-a-vis health and transport, that I won't touch in this discussion. For me personally on a day-to-day basis, using a bike path depends on a couple of factors:

1) Speed; I go faster than bike path speed limits allow (many cyclists yahoo way too fast on bike trails - even me but ONLY when I'm the only one around). Bike paths are for 10 mph max, the usual speed limit for paths. I get upset when I see riders going faster than that on a path, particularly when there is traffic on the trail (and not just cyclists but often runners, roller skaters, even XC rollers - and yes, walkers - with dogs!). I use the street because it's been proven in research (that I can only reference from others' citations of this) that bike trails are significantly MORE dangerous than riding the road (I won't list the several reasons, hope you'll take my word for it and I've experienced all the reasons why it's actually safer to ride on the road, particularly if you ride over 10 mph);
2) Other (slow) traffic). See above list of that slow traffic, which I find often includes non-cyclists using the bike path - even when there's a dedicated pedestrian path that would be safer for all concerned if the danged pedestrians would stay off the bike paths unless it's a combined-mode path. Go figure why a pedestrian would choose to walk on a bike path with those machines wheeling by at close quarters, if there's an alternative which there is in many cases. So while I heartily agree with Jeff's remark about why cyclists are using the sidewalk (it's not called a sideWALK for nothing), it works both ways as to who's using which pathway. This is part of the civility issue I mentioned initially. People are SO STUPID, UNCONSCIOUS, INCONSIDERATE... 'nuff said.
3) Condition of the path. Ok, the Wheelock path is new so this doesn't apply - yet. But it sure does apply to many trails that, once built, never get maintained and become cracked and ruined by roots (the trail wasn't properly built in the first place - no substrate work), never even get swept so debris builds up, etc. Road shoulders are the same way: cycling would benefit far more from having more shoulder maintenance than spending more money on more bike paths. I'm a vehicle and as a taxpayer I think it would be more helpful to cycling if key road shoulders were swept every month (vs. just in the spring). Think for just one example about the Plymouth Ave. bridge in Mpls, with its fancy bollard-separated bike lane - that is perpetually full of debris because it NEVER gets swept; I will ride the road side of that lane as a result, if there's no traffic I see in my rear view mirror (that every cyclist should use).
4) Season. I ride in the winter. If the city plows the bike paths I'll use them in winter because I'm not hammering along at 20 mph in the winter. Many cities do not maintain bike paths in the winter. Heck, most cities don't maintain bike infrastructure - or road shoulders - at all, so the surface gets crappy, etc.; I ride on the road because it's cleaner, better maintained...

Ok, that's my diatribe on the bike path dilemma. One last, big (cultural) problem: still not enough bicycle usage along Wheelock Parkway - why are the residents of that neighborhood not getting out cycling more?

Thanks for bringing this issue up, Mark. It's a legitimate concern, one I hope people think about and conclude that, while that new path may be empty now, as Joe says, give it six months and some nice weather...and the continued growth in year-round cycling both recreational and transport.

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13 Jan 2018 18:10 - 13 Jan 2018 18:47 #2851 by Johnny Pugh
Johnny Pugh replied the topic: Wheelock Bike Path in St Paul
After reading your post, I decided to check out this trail since it's so close to my house. It's a beautiful trail that was plowed almost immediately after the recent snowfall. The problem that I have with this trail is that it only goes from Como Lake to Dale Street, about .6 mile. Then it dumps you back onto Wheelock Pkwy. I can see it being useful to kids riding to Como Park Elementary School, but not very useful for anyone commuting by bike. I'm sure more local riders will be using it in the Spring to access Como Park.

Johnny Pugh
Last Edit: 13 Jan 2018 18:47 by Johnny Pugh.

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22 Jan 2018 09:43 #2855 by Nancy Welsh
Nancy Welsh replied the topic: Wheelock Bike Path in St Paul
I would personally use the bike path. However, there is a perception among cyclists that riding the street is easier (and some mention safer) because a cyclist doesn't need to cross incoming side streets.

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