St. Paul releases Summit Avenue bike lane plans

When Lauren O’Brien goes for a bike ride or a walk, she often starts and ends her trips on St. Paul’s tree-lined Summit Avenue.

“I love the feel. It’s like a state park and a neighborhood at the same time,” O’Brien said. “It’s gorgeous.”

But O’Brien is among a group of residents worried the historic and scenic avenue will have a much different feel if plans for the Summit Avenue Regional Trail go forward, and trees disappear as a result.

“It will be horrible,” O’Brien said.

The city’s Parks and Recreation Department this week released a draft plan detailing a proposed bike lane to separate cyclists from traffic on both sides of about 5 miles of Summit between Mississippi and Kellogg boulevards. Though any construction is years away and would be tied to a yet-to-be-scheduled rebuilding of Summit, plans for the bike lanes are being developed and finalized now.

The lanes would be built about six inches higher than the adjacent driving lanes, with a buffer between. The raised trail away from traffic is intended to improve safety and accommodate cyclists of all ages and abilities. Some parking would be reduced, said Brett Hussong, a senior landscape architect with the city.

Parks and Recreation officials will take comments on the draft through Feb. 28.

Neighborhood group Save Our Street (SOS) is strongly opposed to the plan. The group of residents who live on and near Summit has collected more than 2,000 signatures from people who say building bike lanes above the curb line will harm too many trees.

“We are all for bike lanes,” said avid bicyclist and SOS member Bob Cattanach. “‘Right lane in the right place’ is our mantra. This is the wrong lane in the wrong place.”

The group says there are alternatives to both accomplish the city’s goals and save trees. Among them are painting high-visibility green lanes, improving pavement, dropping the speed limit and installing better buffers.

“There are lots of positive things you can do to make lanes better,” Cattanach said. “Once you start excavating, the tree is in trouble.”

Hussong said the current design proposal could affect about 200 of …


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