Two Huge Pedal Strokes Forward

The Saint Paul Greenway Event was a bigger success than we could have imagined. In the weeks leading up to the event, the Committee was strategizing about how to deal with the awkward silence in the room if only a handful of people attended. Yes, we had a game plan for if we heard crickets chirping. We did not, however, have a plan for if 150 people attended and our ‘talking tables’ were dwarfed by the people gathered ’round. As the line to sign in diminished, Laura Baum of Smart Trips kicked off the conversation with a little on the Greenway Committee and its effort, Paul Nelson, Greenway Committee Chair, shared a bit about the six plus years he’s been working on this, and Russ Stark provided a dose of reality infused with touch of inspiration. The bad news: The City of Saint Paul lost the case with CP Rail which means we’ll have to reconsider how we press the City for a safe urban trail along the Ayd Mill section. The good news: 150 people rallied on a beautiful Wednesday to show their support for infrastructural investment that doesn’t play slave to the combustion engine. As Karen Hollish described in her Twin Cities Daily Planet article, the number of people who attended last Wednesday’s meeting illustrates the growing interest in and need for non-motorized transportation options. It was also apparent, through conversations about some of the design ideas, that we have to push the City to consider a safe option that accommodates multiple users at the same time. Theresa Nelson, Greenspace and Art Programs Manager of the Midtown Greenway Coalition, shared her experience and urged us to not just replicate the Midtown Greenway, but do better. She gave some fantastic insight into the process and doubly urged us to consider design elements along the corridor sooner rather than later. We’ll take that suggestion to heart (her involvement spanned eleven years and she’s still working on the effort so I’d say she’s got some credence). The resounding voice was loud and clear: Continue with the effort no matter what the speed bump. Push for the vision of a SAFE urban trail, do not settle for a measly path that is unsafe and creates conflict between users.

As we suggested in our post about the High Line, visualization of a vision is essential to the process. We here at BSOL enjoyed lending a little design time to the effort to produce illustrations of what is, and what could be. We think the potential is there, how about you? Here’s the existing condition just north of the Marshall and Snelling intersection.

Here is the potential…

And in the Ayd Mill Corridor, this next graphic illustrates what the consultant proposed (12 foot trail, six foot fence and no design features like stormwater gardens, lighting, benches, etc…).

And here’s what we think would be best given the requirements:

What about a bridge spanning the Mississippi so we really can connect to the Midtown Greenway? While this area is technically in Minneapolis, why not think about the potential? The bridge could be much, much cooler than this but here’s what we whipped up for the meeting.


And the potential:

If the Saint Paul Greenway is something you’d like to see happen please sign on to the vision to let the City know this is a vital link to our regional system.

P.S. You do not have to be from Saint Paul to sign the vision….Minneapolitans, Suburbanites, Exurbanites, the more we push for this in all areas, the better the system could be!

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