Cycling in St. Louis and Detroit: Something Good In Common

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{this isn’t Detroit or St. Louis, but why not?}

M-bike.org has a story highlighting the excellent cycling to be found in Detroit. I know, at least of few of you are calling bullsh!t. Well, believe it. Check out this op-ed published in the New York Times.

Depending on your cycling personality you may prefer a few hills or even the mountains and you may long for quiet country roads, but the largely uncongested roads of cities like Detroit and St. Louis offer a good ride. We may expect this to be ignored by motorists or our politicians, but why is this also ignored by the League of American Bicyclists and the Alliance for Biking and Walking?

Well, m-bike.org has the answer. To be labeled a “bike-friendly city” the League of American Bicyclists require, among other things, that a city have a bicycle master plan, a significant number of miles of dedicated bike lanes on arterial roads, that government has the lead role in developing and managing bicycle facilities, the city does not have significant vacant land and that urban streets have traffic levels that necessitate bike lanes. Likewise, it’s noted in the same post that the Alliance for Biking and Walking uses criteria which do not reward a city that is simply a great place to take a ride.

It’s fair to reward communities that demonstrate progressive planning for cyclists and I hope that St. Louis is able to check off a few more of the criteria mentioned above, but my experience is that St. Louis, and the City especially, is a great place for a bike ride. Let’s face it, our streets were made for 950,000 people and we now number 350,000. This leaves a lot of room for bikes on the road. And just like Detroit, we have an opportunity unlike any before to incorporate bicycles into our city.

One plan to do so is the long proposed Chouteau Greenway that would connect south downtown to Forest Park Southeast and then Forest Park. While this may provide a nice linear park for a leisurely ride and even a nice commute route for some, a dedicated bike path on one of our existing roads would be much better. Cyclists want to and need to go the same places that motorists go; to the grocery, the pharmacists, the post office. Why can’t we get something like the image above?

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