To the Editor:
Why would the city of St. Louis Park propose a hazardous and reckless bicycle plan that endangers the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists? Residents of a 2.5-block segment of Wooddale Avenue are asking this question. While the stated “target” audience of this plan is to meet the needs of 51-56% of “Interested but Concerned” (or less confident) bicycle users, this plan incorporates a striped bike path on a residential street entirely unsuited to its purpose and puts bicyclists and pedestrians at far greater risk.
This plan fails to protect bicyclists as intended. This painted line will cross 38 driveways (creating 152 conflict points), remove 80% of the parking and widen the street, thereby increasing traffic volumes and speeds – this on a street where children cross to an elementary school on one side and a park on the other. Painted bike lanes are not intended for a residential street such as Wooddale; they are geared toward high-trafficked roads with few driveways (like Beltline Boulevard). Further, the latest research from multiple sources, including the National Transportation Safety Board (November 2019) reveals that striped bicycle lanes are the least safe option. Only traffic calming, lower speeds and separated, vertical barriers keep cyclists safe. Without such options, recent studies recommend doing nothing – the absence of a painted line increases driver awareness of bicyclists. Finally, this plan will cost upwards of $200,000, whereas the alternative plan will cost around $20,000.
Residents, aided by traffic engineers and researchers, have devised a far safer, cost-effective plan that establishes a network of “Share the Road” streets and provides bicyclists (of all levels) a choice between high- and low-traffic roads. It likewise saves 10-20 trees as well as resident parking.
We must reduce speeds and calm traffic to make Wooddale safe for pedestrians and bicyclists – I should know as my daughter was struck by a car when she was 8 years old at the busy intersection at 44th and Wooddale. Council must consider this fact-based, alternative plan that will save taxpayer money and provide the safest option for every level of bicyclist.
St. Louis Park