Today on Streets.mn: No Bike Lanes in Downtown Saint Paul Equals Nice Ride Numbers

[I even made this fancy chart.]
I have a new post up at Streets.mn today. It's Nice Ride season, despite the snow, and I crunched the numbers about the Saint Paul and found it quite lacking. Here's the gist of the story:
Yet if the goal of NiceRide was to get people to ride around downtown Saint Paul, last year has to be considered a failure.
I did a rough survey of a representative sample of 10 stations from each of the downtowns, and the results are disheartening for Saint Paul bicycling. Of the ten stations in Saint Paul, only two locations came close to the 1,000 trip barrier. Most spots stayed well below 300 trips per season (or about two rentals per day per station). By contrast, even the worst performing Downtown Minneapolis station was almost at 2,000 trips, with the most popular (the IDS Center) exceeding 10,000 trips during the bicycling season. The total trips at the 10 Minneapolis locations was 46,379, while Saint Paul’s locations equaled  just 5,594, a tiny fraction of the city to the West.
Saint Paul has good intentions and fine goals. The city has a new bicycle coordinator (who writes for this very website), and has been working on a bicycle plan for some time. But without bike lanes in downtown Saint Paul, those eye-catching green bikes are are for urban bicycling what those Snoopy statues are for street life. They’re strictly symbolic. Maybe this year will prove me wrong, but I’m afraid that until Saint Paul has contiguous and comfortable bike lanes downtown, Nice Ride will remain a underused symbol of good intentions and lack of action.

Saint Paul is way behind Minneapolis on bikes. It's been lapped and lapped again, and as a guy who rides back and forth between the two cities every day, it's frustrating. (If Minneapolis didn't exist, would I think Saint Paul was the bees knees?) The Nice Ride disparity really throws that gap into stark relief. We need a bike plan and some downtown bike lanes pronto. We can't keep trumpeting our nice Ride program if we're averaging only one person at each station each day.  


Unknown said...

It doesn't help that Downtown St Paul is both hilly (not fun with 3 speed Nice Ride bikes) and lacking in ground-level retail/food establishments. If anything a good bike connection on Kellog to the food joints on West 7th might be a help. So bike lanes on Kellog and West 7th might help to do the trick and make St Paul a bit more bikeable (and West 7th more pleasant to cross on foot).

Anonymous said...

As a daily cyclist year round in Saint Paul, yes the city desperately needs more bike lanes and sharrows on roads which still require parking. It is shameful that Saint Paul is so backwards in this area. No reason why bike lanes and sharrows can;t be added all over the city, West 7th, Robert St, all through Lowertown, Grand Ave, get out the paint City of STP, and get to work! It's time to get out of the dark ages.

Anonymous said...

Saint Paul has some big hills but overall Seattle and San Francisco are far hillier but they have waaaaay more cyclists and cycling amenities. It's about the will of the people and the city to move in a pedestrian, cycling friendly way or just stick to thew old tired model for an urban center and go with cars, which is exactly what Saint Paul is doing. They say all the right things and then do absolutely nothing. There is ONE bike lane on the entire West Side of the City?! That is so wrong and shameful! It's time the City of St. Paul integrate cycling into the fabric of the city by painting cheap and easy to maintain bike lanes and sharrows everywhere and not spending millions by paving more expensive to buold and maintain trails which only serve to reinforce cycling as a recreation and not the viable and efficient form of transportation it is for city dwellers. You couldn't pay me to drive and park in most big cities, cycling is way faster and easier. Get with Saint Paul! You are driving the young people away!