Categorized | IN OUR COMMUNITY

Monitor In A Minute

Posted on 12 April 2016 by Calvin

Compiled by JANE MCCLURE

stop for me banner 10x3“Stop For Me” is the theme of a safety campaign launched in mid-March by the St. Paul Police Department, all 17 district councils, St. Paul Smart Trips and other pedestrian and bicycle advocacy groups. If statistics from the first five of 34 planned public awareness events are any indication, police and their advocates have their work cut out for them.

The first phase of the year-long Stop For Me campaign began Mar. 18 in Merriam Park, Snelling-Hamline and Lexington-Hamline neighborhoods and wrapped up Mar. 21 on the city’s East Side. It resulted in 529 traffic stops, 129 failure to yield citations for motorists and seven warnings to pedestrians for unsafe crossing. Thirty-nine police officers, led by Sgt. Jeremy Ellison, participated in the events as did several dozen community volunteers and elected officials. Police handed out information to motorists they stopped.

The most common reason police heard for not stopping was that the motorists didn’t see the pedestrian or pedestrians.

Tickets for failure to yield cost $186 apiece. “That has a huge impact on your pocketbook,” said Ellison.

The $50,000 campaign’s costs are split between a state grant and the city’s safe routes to schools funding.

Two of the events were in area neighborhoods, at Lexington Pkwy. and Hague Ave., and at Snelling and Laurel avenues. At the events, some volunteers from area district councils and pedestrian and bicycle advocacy groups held up Stop For Me banners and gave information to the public.

The braver souls crossed streets as police looked on and in many cases, pulled motorists over. Some of the groups had close calls as vehicles didn’t yield for them in crosswalks. In other cases, a vehicle would stop, giving pedestrians a sense of safety. Then a vehicle or vehicles in the adjacent lane would zoom past.

Police Department statistics as of mid-March indicate that 39 pedestrians or bicyclists had been struck by vehicles in St. Paul, according to police. Shelby Kokesch was the first fatality of 2016, killed in March while crossing Kellogg Blvd. St. Paul had six fatalities last year. There were 40 fatalities statewide.

About 900 people were injured statewide, with 150 pedestrians and bicyclists hurt in St. Paul.

The long-awaited Cleveland Ave. bike lane won St. Paul City Council approval Mar. 16. If Ramsey County approves the project, bicycle lanes will be striped on a 2.75-mile stretch of Cleveland Ave. starting this construction season.

The $2.86 million project extends from Highland Pkwy. to University Ave., but the 2016 work would only extend to St. Anthony Ave. It’s not known when the final few blocks north to University would be completed. Some bicycle advocates asked the City Council to build the entire project, to connect with University and Midway area bike routes.

Council members Jane Prince and Dan Bostrom voted against the bike lane plan. Both said they wanted to see more time given to Marshall and Cleveland businesses, rental property owners and residents who are worried about the loss of parking. Prince also tried to amend the plan to put “share the road markings,” or “sharrows,” on Cleveland between Dayton and Marshall avenues. But both measures failed 2-5, with council members Russ Stark, Chris Tolbert, Dai Thao, Rebecca Noecker and Amy Brendmoen voting for the bike plan. Supporters said the project has been thoroughly vetted.

Whether Cleveland should be striped or marked for bicycles has been debated for more than a year. Last year the City Council sent the issue to a community advisory committee, which chose Cleveland over routes on Prior Ave. or Finn St. The issue drew dozens of people to the council meeting, with bicycle advocates wanting a north-south route squaring off against business owners and residents worried that they will lose convenient parking.

The project scope has changed over the past several months. It originally was to be part of a 2015 county mill and overlay projects in Macalester-Groveland neighborhood but was laid over for more community input. It is to be done this summer, with work in Merriam Park done in conjunction with county street work there.

One key change made would lower the speed limit on Cleveland to 25 miles per hour, from Highland Pkwy. to St. Anthony Ave. That recommendation and the final bike plan now go to the Ramsey County Board for final approval.

The St. Paul City Council voted in March to approved $40,000 for the Jefferson-Griggs Bikeway project. Funds will come from the Neighborhood Sales Tax Revitalization (STAR) Ward 4 Year-Round Program Funds.

The funding will pay for various completed features of the project, and was sought by the St. Paul Department of Public Works in collaboration with the Hamline Midway Coalition. Much of the project is already in place, including traffic circles, bump-outs, signs, lighting, new sidewalks and shared lane markings on portions of Griggs St. and Jefferson Ave. Work on the project began in July 2014.

The project was reviewed in February by the Neighborhood STAR Board, which ranked the project a 1.46 on a scale from 1 (low) to 5 (high). But, the city is waiving STAR guidelines in approving the project.

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