Home » Bicycling » Recent Articles:

We Need More Parking…For Bicycles

November 3, 2007 Bicycling, Parking 32 Comments

Next week is back to the bicycle for me. Sure, we are going into winter and it is easy for me to type this while in Miami Beach in 80-degree weather. Still, staying warm on a bicycle is easier than staying warm on a scooter. I’m not putting the scooter away, just not relying on it for 100% of my transit.

Later this week, I’ve got a convention downtown. It would be nice to bike there but where to lock? There are parking garages everywhere downtown, including one as part of the convention center complex. The large curved front is all cars — both the driveway and sidewalk are devoted to cars. No room for one little bike. Not to worry, I’ll find a place to lock it.

So this and some bugging from a friend got me thinking about what it is that I’d like to see in the city and the surrounding region. The first thing is bike parking. No doubt about it, bike parking is critical to successfully being able to park bikes. Duh, right? Bike lanes are rather useless unless you just want to ride around in circles. Sure, often a sign post or some other object exists to secure a bike but you just never know.

The uncertainly, if you have a choice, may cause you to leave the bike at home and take the car to the store a mile away — an easy bike ride. Convenient parking, on the public sidewalk, is a key element to increasing the daily use of bicycling. Of course the city owns and controls their sidewalk. Some, such as the City of St. Louis, allow taxi cabs to wait around for customers on sidewalks. A better use of this space would be to have bike parking throughout commercial districts.

But this is easier said than done. Because the city doesn’t want to have people installing bike racks left and right without any oversight (they may want to save that sidewalk for a taxi, for example), the process is long and brutal. Chicago has a better answer — they simply install them. It works like this, business owners ask for bike parking, the city quickly evaluates, and installs the rack. Likely in less time it would take to get on the agenda at the Board of Public Service to get your rack approved.

So what do I want? I want municipal supported bike parking! We can find ways to spend tens of millions on parking garages but the city can’t find any money to install bike racks downtown and in commercial districts?

Earlier today I met Andy Clark, Executive Director of the League of American Bicyclists. He was here, in Miami, speaking to rail advocates about the importance of cycling. Briefly we talked about St. Louis and how much we have to do before becoming a bike friendly city. I hope we get there some day.
In addition to bike parking, I’d like to see some of the following:

  • A transportation-focused bike plan
  • A bike station in the central business district as well as in downtown Clayton. Should include shower/locker facilities and indoor bike storage.
  • Municipal/Regional adoption of Complete Streets.
  • New zoning in the City of St. Louis, as well as nearby municipalities, to require a more urban form. This will benefit cyclists (and pedestrians) without punishing motorists. This is in conjunction with Complete Streets above.

There is a strong connection between using public transit (all forms), walking, cycling and yes even using my scooter. There is an upside here too for the motorist. The more folks we get out of cars the more room on the existing road there will be for you. Just give me a few feet of sidewalk for bike parking.


St. Louis May Be One of Few Cities in the World With an Elevated Bikeway

The message to the crowd was simple — the Great Rivers Greenway District already owns the old elevated railway trestle that runs from Hadley and Cass to the McKinley Bridge and they want to turn it into one of the world’s few elevated bikeway and walking trails. Inspiration comes from Paris’ Promenade Plantée and New York’s planned High Line.  Chicago and Philly are also working on similar projects.

A good crowd (a “few” if KSDK were counting) gathered last Thursday evening at the Confluence Academy in Old North St. Louis to hear the early thoughts on the proposal. Questions centered around specifics and planners had to continue to remind everyone that this in the very beginning stages — no specifics are known other than what it is they own and control.

Paris and New York are the only two cities with elevated bikeways. Chicago is looking at doing the same thing but they don’t yet have control over the trestle they have in mind. The following are some of the images from the presentation:

The idea is to have a bike path, a walking path, message boards, native greenery and to make creative use of the old supports for the electric wires that powered the old interurban lines.


Some of the concepts they presented included wind, sun and rain collection.


They hope to encourage adjacent buildings to add green roofs to improve the experience, reduce the heat island affect and reduce energy costs for those owners. Taller trellis’ would be added where necessary to prevent people from gaining access to roofs from the trestle.


One idea they explored is to widen the trestle at a point or two to gain more “plaza” space and room for viewing.


One nice thing is the prominent view from I-70. Greening up the trestle and incorporating signs would hopefully increase the curiosity of motorists.


A small portion of the trestle is already being prepared for such a use — connecting to the soon to re-open McKinley bridge. This will give cyclists an easy route to Illinois.

One potential issue is the proposed Mississippi River Bridge — it would intersect with I-70 immediately south of where the trestle crosses. Although the clearance from the highway to the bottom of the trestle is fine, it does not meet current standards. MoDot is seeking Federal approval to allow for an exemption so the trestle can remain in place. Of course, no final design or funding has been worked out between Missouri and Illinois on this bridge so it is anyone’s guess when and if I every actually happens.

I’d like to see I-70 removed from the area between downtown and the arch but part of me doubts that would every actually get removed even if a new bridge for I-70 traffic was built. I’d like to see the MacArthur Bridge, located to the south of the Poplar Street Bridge, reopened to auto traffic, or perhaps as another bike/pedestrian bridge like the Chain of Rocks (the MacArthur still carries railroad traffic below the former auto deck).
Despite the potentially high cost, I think retaining these old industrial structures and reusing them for bike connection is a worthwhile pursuit. The connection with the wonderful North Riverfront trail at Branch Street would be great.


The Magic Continues at Loughborough Commons

It has been a while since I’ve written about Loughborough Commons, the big box retail center receiving something like $14 million in various tax incentives. They been busy building some more retail square footage and preparing for some new tenants to open soon. This is simply a teaser post to show you a couple of the things I’ve been watching for a while.

Above, a staircase leads you down to the parking lot for the multi-unit strip center from the public sidewalk along Loughborough. So we have an SSC — sunken strip center. Or is the center depressed rather than sunken? Or simply depressing? When this stair was announced in the Holly Hills neighborhood newsletter a while back, prior to construction, they made mention of a bike rack at the bottom of the stairs. And here it is — a bike rack at the bottom of stairs.

A bike rack at the bottom of stairs! Get it? Pretty convenient location if you are capable of biking down a set of stairs. So when you bike into the parking area from the complete opposite side you might decide to ride over here to lock up your bike — if you know it is there. And yes, the bike rack is the same width as the concrete pad so that on the off chance the front side is full and you need to use the back side you must push your bike through the grass and shrubs, assuming the sprinkler system is not on. I’m not sure how they expect you to bike back up the stairs.

Those that bike for transportation might have actually appreciated not having to lift their bike over the curb. Say you’ve got one of those handy kid holders on the back of your bike — suddenly the bike is a lot heavier and the kid is precious cargo. Those biking through the park with a kid trailer are simply out of luck as no place is big enough to park your bike & kid trailer. Well, unless you can pick up both over the curb and through the shrubs you can leave the trailer on the grass portion at the back.

I’m also really fond of the ADA ramp at the bottom of the stairs. That will actually come in quite handy for everyone taking their wheelchair up & down the stair. The red truncated domes serving as a “detectable warning” for those with visual impairments are meant to be felt under foot to alert someone when entering a road — not a parking area. That is communicating to someone the are entering a street situation. Clearly they should have consulted with someone with some actual knowledge about the ADA.
Speaking of ADA ramps.

Down the hillside closer to the Schnuck’s and Lowe’s some new stores are being built. In the foreground is a new sidewalk and ramps that to the right connect to the sidewalk along the edge of the main driveway (I say sidewalk but it is too steep to be considered a sidewalk per ADA). The original drawings for the center didn’t include this is the way to get to the Schnuck’s — they had pedestrians crossing the main drive earlier and then the side drive to where you see the back of the stop sign above. I think this could have been a better solution. OK, so you make your way down the hillside from the pubic street, you cross a drive that is just to the right, you make the 90 degree turn, you note the half buried fire hydrant, and you spot the ramp across the drive — they don’t line up.

This is entirely new construction and the ramps on each side of the main driveway do not align. This is all by the same people being built at the same time — am I being unreasonable expecting that they’d align ramps so the person in the mobility scooter, the child on their bike or the parent pushing a baby stroller can safely cross the main entrance to a busy shopping center? This is not complicated stuff here. Yeah yeah, they are not done yet. I don’t want to hear it —- they’ve poured the concrete so they are done with this portion.

I am waiting for a bit more to get done and I will bring you a more in depth review of the new areas and some changes in the old. It is clear to me they were making an effort to improve upon what they had previously done but from the looks of things they simply didn’t have the right people on the job.


The Gateway Cup, Bicycle Racing in St. Louis (w/Video)

Labor Day weekend means many things to many people. To cyclists the weekend is all about racing with hundreds of cyclists from a multi-state area converging on St. Louis to compete for, as they say, cash and prizes. Below is a short video (9:37) from each of the four days as well as some still images. Enjoy!


Friday August 31, 2007 – Tour de Lafayette around Lafayette Park:


Above, riders speeding by race control as evening sets. This Friday evening tradition brings out many spectators.

Saturday September 1, 2007 – Downtown St. Louis:


Above, an early race turns onto 14th from Locust.


Above, final men’s group on Locust.


Above, racers on Washington Ave at the start/finish line. Races are up to 115 minutes + 5 laps.


Above, racers make the turn from Washington Ave onto 20th.


Above, expensive racing bikes resting against the wall of the recently condemned Centenary Tower building at Locust and 16th. The team van is just out of view. This team was from Iowa.

Sunday September 2, 2007 – Giro della Montagna (Tour of the Hill):


Above, “The Italian Immigrants” outside St. Ambrose are not dressed for cycling.

IMG_2641.JPG copy

Above, I spotted this old car in an alley and had a little fun with editing features in Apple’s excellent iPhoto program.


Above, back at the main race area crew were busy keeping bikes in top shape for the riders.


Above, every year the Italia-America Bocce Club hosts a pasta dinner following the races. The dinner is free for riders but $7 for adults — well worth it in my view. The rider in line in front of me didn’t want meatballs on his spaghetti and the older gentleman serving was completely shocked. When I said “no meatballs” he couldn’t believe it. I had moved on to the salad and he was telling the other volunteers, “they didn’t want any meatballs!” The ladies were great, they were like, “Not everyone eats meat.”


Above, friends and parents greet their kids at the finish of the children’s races.


Architecturally the Hill neighborhood is one of the most interesting in the city. While some buildings are similar to those from other parts from the same era, some are quite different. The Hill seems to have more 2nd floor balconies such as this one on Marconi.

Monday September 3, 2007 — The Delmar Loop:


Patrons at Brandts enjoy the view of the first corner of the race, out of view to the right.


The sidewalks were packed!


Above, at this point I’ve got a slice of cheese pizza from Racanelli’s in one hand and the camera in the other.


Above, riders making the first curve of the course. Joe Edwards’ Blueberry Hill restaurant and club is in the background.

Good times, good times…

For more information & professional photos of the races visit stlbiking.com.  If you missed these races, mark your calendars for next year!


Gateway Cup Bicycle Races Continue Throughout the Holiday Weekend

September 2, 2007 Bicycling, Events/Meetings 2 Comments

Many have wondered what it takes to get me to stop bitching about the poor job our leaders are doing guiding the city and region. Well, hundreds of individuals from all over the country racing through the streets on bicycles pretty much does the trick.


Above, the final run to the finish line in the men’s pro race downtown on Saturday September 1st. The racing continues today on The Hill and Monday in the Delmar Loop. Click here for more information on times and exact routes. I’ll have a video compilation of all four races on Tuesday.