October 20, 2014
Office of the City Council
310 City Hall
15 Kellogg Blvd., West
Saint Paul, MN 55102
I’m writing on behalf of St. Paul Smart Trips to express our support for the projects proposed under the recently established 8-80 Vitality Fund. St. Paul Smart Trips is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with the mission to improve access and mobility for those who travel in and around Saint Paul. To fulfill this mission, we partner with individuals, organizations and government across Saint Paul and maintain a 15-member board of directors that reflects this diversity of interests.
It is our view that cities must be vibrant, interesting and safe places to attract people to live, work and play. During his budget address, we were excited to learn that Mayor Coleman was proposing funding for such initiatives as increasing green space and improving bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure to enliven St. Paul through the 8-80 Vitality Fund. We feel that such improvements will make our city more attractive and vibrant.
We were particularly encouraged by the major investments planned for bicycle infrastructure through this fund, with nearly $22 million allocated in the budget to bicycle infrastructure improvements. Our program St. Paul Women on Bikes found through a recent survey that, overwhelmingly, women said safer bike routes would make them more likely to ride for transportation. Given the enormous gender gap in cycling between men and women, with women making up only 24 percent of cyclists nationally, the improvements in bicycle infrastructure called for in the 8-80 Vitality Fund projects are important to the long-term sustainability and equity of our transportation network.
Projects like the Downtown Loop not only have the potential to increase biking in downtown, but have supporters in the business community as an economic development tool. Allocating $450,000 to plan and test the loop along with $8 million to implement the first phase of the project on Jackson Street is a vital step toward not only making downtown safe and easy for people riding bikes, but also for driving development and attracting businesses into downtown.
Downtown isn’t the only area in need of improved bicycle infrastructure. With nearly 1/3 of the total budget of the 8-80 Vitality Fund allocated to other bicycle improvements, like completing the Grand Rounds and $400,000 towards striping bicycle lanes, significant headway will be made on building a safe network of bicycling facilities across the city.
We feel that these investments, especially the investments in improving biking downtown with the construction of the first phase of the Downtown Loop, will make St. Paul safer, improve access and mobility and move us even closer to St. Paul’s goal of being the most livable city in the world.