|[Cecil's Deli interior, via the superb WASCO.]|
At the same time, the city would take the opportunity to use some of the slotted "8-80" money to extend the lanes and truly connect the "Highland Village" area at Ford and Cleveland with the existing highly-trafficked bike lanes on Summit Avenue. As someone who bikes on Cleveland regularly to get to places like Cecli's Deli, Quixotic Coffee, and the Tea Source, I'm very much looking forward to seeing safer streets in this auto-oriented part of Saint Paul.
|[Cleveland Avenue bike lane proposal, along with funding sources.]|
|[Are businesses synonymous with a parking space?]|
Local business owners are understandably reluctant to take risks. But we've been compromising safety on Saint Paul streets for too long. There are many ways to ensure access to businesses while fulfilling our city's vision for safe streets for everyone, of all ages, no matter how they get around.
City staff have proposed a series of specific of "parking mitigation" solutions in response to business concerns, including new 30-minute parking (replacing old ones at at least a 1:1 ratio), and expanding the restricted parking zones near Cleveland to ensure homes have access to local streets to store their cars.
The narrative that pits "saving businesses" against safer streets is a red herring. It's no coincidence that all of Saint Paul's most economically successful parts of our city (Grand Avenue, Highland Village, Downtown, Selby Avenue, etc.) are also the places where its hardest to park. Making these places easier to bike and walk will increase, not decrease, access to businesses.
If we build high quality streets, Saint Paulites will rise to the challenge of walking a block to local businesses. At the same time, safe city streets will mean more customers getting to know our amazing street corners. For too long, Saint Paul has been a place to drive through, instead of stopping to stroll. Cars don't get haircuts, sandwiches, or eat Italian food. People walking on foot get haircuts, buy sandwiches, and eat Italian food. It's much easier to stop on a dime and smell the roses if you're riding a bicycle through Saint Paul. It's about time we began living up to our ideals.
|[This just happened (again). Unsafe streets are hurting business more than complex parking.]|
Here's a letter I wrote on the Cleveland Avenue bike lane issue:
Dear CMs Tolbert and Stark:
I am writing to encourage you to support high quality bike lanes on Cleveland Avenue at next week’s City Council meeting. The project as proposed by city staff was supported unanimously by the Transportation Committee, which is composed of representatives from broad constituencies throughout the city, ranging from the disabled to the trucking industry. This project, like the others proposed this year by Ramsey County, offers Saint Paul a chance to follow through on the long-awaited Bike Plan at zero cost to the city. You will be setting an example for the rest of the city as we struggle to implement our shared vision of safe streets and healthy communities in Saint Paul.
As you know, now that Saint Paul is growing again, parking tensions will be a recurring problem. I believe we need to be creative about parking policy, and look for opportunities for “win-win” solutions. With parking policy, it’s impossible to please everyone. But solutions like smart pricing and policy will ensure that customers and residents have convenience, at the very least.
We should not have to choose between safe streets and supporting small businesses. On the contrary, vibrant sidewalks and local trips on safe streets will help our neighborhood nodes thrive! Please look for creative solutions for commercial parking on Cleveland, including tweaking parking rules on side streets, building parking bays, or adjusting permit zones. There are lots of ways to solve this problem without compromising the safety of people trying to lead healthy lives.
For many years, Saint Paulites have expressed the desire to walk and bike more while having safer streets running through their neighborhoods. But as I have seen in my years here, despite a great many plans, our actual streets haven’t often reflected those ideals. It’s easy to get people to complain about parking and traffic. It’s far more difficult to inspire people to follow through on lofty ambitions.
This is your chance to lead Saint Paul into a healthy, thriving future. Please support high quality bike lanes on Cleveland Avenue.
[Godwin's Law in full effect.]