The web of dedicated paths for biking and walking in St. Paul will soon add an important strand. The city is getting ready to build its first proper bicycle boulevard, on Jefferson Avenue across the southwestern part of the city.
As it passes through St. Paul, the river twists northward, then south again. Due to that geographical quirk, the straight-line, east-west Jefferson Bikeway
will meet (or nearly meet) the Mississippi River at both ends: at Mississippi River Boulevard and again at W. Seventh Street/Shepard Road.
Anyone biking the nearly four-mile length of the route will experience three different levels of accommodation: bike lanes
from W. Seventh Street to Lexington Parkway; shared lanes
(or "sharrows") from Lexington to Snelling Avenue; and bike-boulevard
modifications from Snelling to Mississippi River Boulevard.
It's that last stretch where bicyclists will really feel like kings of the road, with a variety of traffic tricks intended to give preference to people pushing pedals. At Cleveland Avenue, a new island will divert cars and give refuge to bikers.
"The city's transportation plan calls for bike facilities every half-mile to mile," explains traffic engineer Paul St. Martin. Jefferson is typical of the kind of street St. Paul is adding to its biking network: located in a current gap in the system, with low traffic volumes, and already stocked with traffic signals. St. Martin said the city will test a similar route on Charles Avenue, another east-west street, which runs just north of University Avenue.
Source: Paul St. Martin, City of St. Paul
Writer: Chris Steller