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St. Louis has more miles of downtown protected bike lanes than Seattle

IMG_2373So, I’m my hometown of St. Louis, Missouri, about to become godfather to my nephew Luke (yes, I will be insufferable with Don Corleone quotes for the next couple days), and I heard that there was a brand new protected bike lane downtown. So of course I had to check it out.

The bike lane goes 1.2 miles from Union Station to the Old Courthouse along the park side of Chestnut Street right through the heart of downtown. As you bike, you are flanked by a wonderful blend of magnificent historic buildings and popular modern additions like the City Garden.

It wasn’t even totally finished yet (signage was largely still missing), yet there already children biking with their families. If you had said a few weeks ago that kids would be biking comfortably on a downtown St. Louis street, people would have thought you were crazy. That’s the power of protected bike lanes, and the change can happen overnight.

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Screenshot from KSDK Channel 5 News. Click to watch.
Screenshot from KSDK News Channel 5. Click to watch.

So anyway, here I am, halfway across the country vising family, and somehow I run into a reporter and end up on the evening news talking about protected bike lanes. Despite the flip-bait™ headline “NEW BIKE LANES ARE CONFUSING DRIVERS,” it’s actually a good report.

And I was able to squeeze in this surprising fact:

“Seattle is known as a bike friendly city, and as of today St. Louis has more miles of protected bike lanes downtown than Seattle does,” Fucoloro said.

It’s true! Granted they only have 1.2 miles, but that’s double Seattle’s 0.6 miles on 2nd Ave (though I guess we’re tied if you count each way on 2nd as its own lane).

The new lane is part of a recent rollout of bike improvements through a partnership between the city, some nearby cities and suburbs and the Great Rivers Greenway organization (see their joint press release). But the Chestnut bike lane is one bold move that comes after a series of terrible traffic deaths in and around downtown this year.

So way to go St. Louis. Let this be the start of a downtown safe streets revolution. Keep ’em coming.

And come on, Seattle! Let’s build that downtown bike network already.

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17 responses to “St. Louis has more miles of downtown protected bike lanes than Seattle”

  1. Southeasterner

    Why isn’t that guy in the picture wearing a helmet? So dangerous! :-)

  2. Joseph

    A *one-way* PBL on a one-way street, and so wide! Nice.

    1. Josh

      Was just thinking SDOT would have tried to cram a 2-way sidepath in the same space. (Seriously… look at the bicycle pavement marking, standard width is 40 inches, SDOT allows 4-foot lanes each way on a 2-way sidepath…)

  3. Andrew

    Aw, come on. Capitol Hill isn’t downtown enough for you?

  4. William Wilcock

    The city of St Louis is not a very good comparative city to Seattle. Its population density is about 2/3 that of Seattle and the population is decreasing. St Louis’s efforts at Urban renewal are not hindered by a lack of space for things like bike paths.

    1. kptrease

      Our efforts at making life better are also not hindered by a lack of space for things like bike paths. They’re hindered by lack of imagination and vision on the part of our leadership.

      There’s plenty of space.

      1. Lee lee

        Well said ?

  5. Ryan on Summit

    So, it’s a one-way bike lane? What happens when you want to go back the way you came?

    1. Josh

      Most drivers want to go home again, too, so one-way streets usually form a couplet with a one-way street the opposite direction one block over. Safer for all concerned, though it might require a bit of education and enforcement to stop wrong-way cycling by reckless riders who think the rules don’t apply to them.

      1. … except that in this case, for bikes (which is what we’re talking about), they don’t seem to have completed the couplet.

        In downtown Seattle (which is what we’re kind of talking about as well) the avenues are really far apart vertically — particularly as there’s a two-way street between the two sides of the couplet.

  6. Clark in Vancouver

    So the same things the media said everywhere else when introducing a city’s first protected bike lane? These media people must compare notes or something.

  7. Harrison Davignon

    It would be nice to have in our city, but we should complain too much. I feel safer on 3 ave, a major, bus, vehicle quoridor in downtown Seattle, then some the outskirts and other metropolitan areas around the northwest. People in Downtown Seattle seem mostly aware of bicycles. I would say bellview is far worse, because there is virtually no bicycle infrastructure. If we can get jay inslee to understand once and a lifetime opportunity that would help. Republicans will allow 6 percent of the budget to go to alternative transportation, up from 1 percent. Jay inslee wants to take most if that and put it toward lowering carbon pollution. This will put more cars on the road, more pollution and less safe for us bicycle riders.

    1. JAT

      Funny you should say this (I’m about to hop on my bike at the end of the workday here in Bellevue and I anticipate no confusion or hostility from motorists until I get to the SoDo part of the commute…

      My question for Tom: how are the attitudes of St Louis and Eastern Missouri drivers outside of this one protected bike lane street – because doesn’t that matter far more than infrastructure? Every bike lane ends eventually, and cyclist should continue to be welcome on the roads when that happens.

      St Charles County, MO BikeBan anybody?

  8. […] out more coverage of the Chestnut Street lane from St. Louis native Tom Fucoloro at Seattle Bike Blog. “If you had said a few weeks ago that kids would be biking comfortably on a downtown St. […]

  9. Dave

    Here’s the picture showing the confusion of drivers:
    Downtown STL bike lanes

  10. Todd Antoine

    And here’s an article from Saturday’s paper showing the signage being installed to help drivers understand where to park.


  11. […] The city should receive recognition for these investments. They should be applauded. That’s hard to do if there’s no information available. Inquiries about the project were sometimes answered by the city’s streets department. No drawings were available. No one who would use it, and understand it well, was presented as being available for comment. When local television news showed up to tell the story of confused motorists, they luckily happened upon Tom Fucoloro, a St. Louis native, and owner of Seattle Bike Blog. […]

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