Cycling in downtown St. Paul just got a massive upgrade.
I used to commute to downtown via bike, but had an unfortunate experience with a delivery truck that made me swear off of it for years. But following the opening of the Capital City Bikeway in early October, I set out to discover how it compared to the cushy Minneapolis experience.
And I was pleasantly surprised.
A grand roll-out
A little background: The Capital City Bikeway was unveiled in early October with a small stretch open for bike enthusiasts to experience the awesome potential. It is a small teaser for what’s yet to come for downtown Saint Paul.
What’s special about this bikeway is its innovative elevated lanes with a nod to Dutch-style infrastructure.
With a Nice Ride, I hopped onto the CCB.
The first thing I noticed was the smoothness of the ride. As a mostly street cyclist, navigating potholes and other random debris is an almost daily part of my ride. But these lanes are nice.
The surface, according to Saint Paul’s website, is sustainable pavement and porous asphalt. The asphalt will help collect storm water runoff and keep the pathways dry.
The second thing I noticed is elevation and separation from cars and pedestrians. This way, it’s difficult for pedestrians to wander into the bike lanes. At stop lights, bicycles will hopefully be more visible to cars.
Overall, these bike lanes are great. And I’m excited for the future potential that these lanes will add for veteran cyclists, but as well for encouraging new cyclists to venture out and explore.
The future of CCB
By next summer, the CCB will connect to many trails that used to abruptly end. It also will link to other streets in St. Paul, like University Ave, making it easier for commuters biking to downtown.
Additional streetscape will be added in 2017, like benches, directional signage and street art, to further separate cars and bikers, and just look nice in general.
Unfortunately, there are parts of the design that aren’t funded yet. The finished lanes, and ones that will be completed in 2017, were a part of street vitality budget called the 8-80 plan. The additional funding still needs to be found to get the rest of the elevated lane loop finished.
Here's a map. See you on the path!