The new pedestrian islands on Arsenal Street along Tower Grove Park initially seem like great progress in making the city more walkable, but they are built in the parking lane and so are a long-term guarantee that bicyclists will only have unprotected bike lanes on that section of roadway. It would have been far safer for cyclists and pedestrians if the parking lane was shifted away from the street curb. The bicycle lane would be parking protected, and the pedestrian crossing distance would be at least 16 feet less than it will be even with these new pedestrian islands.
St. Louis needs to stop making and expensively enshrining the street fabric. Unprotected bike lanes aren’t safe for cyclists and guarantee that most people will never ride a bike on a public street in this city.
There is a saying that you can’t tell how many people would use a bridge by how many people are swimming across a river. You certainly can’t tell how many people would make the healthy, cost-effective, ethical and fun choice to bicycle based on how many people are willing to brave the unprotected bike lanes.
Streets must be about more than automotive volumes and on-street parking if we want to see our neighborhoods be truly vibrant places. Bicycles and their requisite infrastructure won’t save St. Louis, but they can be a powerful tool in supporting the type of change that St. Louis and its leaders claim to want.
Erin Godwin • St. Louis