Help Preserve Summit Avenue For Future Generations

Summit Avenue is one of the best preserved historic streets in the country, and it is important to ensure that Summit Avenue remains a viable corridor for motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians for generations to come. What is being proposed in The Summit Avenue Master Regional Trail Plan is not what's best for the future of the Avenue.

If you value protecting Summit Avenue, its mature trees, parking, existing on-street bike lanes, and more, please sign the petition, and let the decision-makers in charge of this initiative know how you stand on the issue.

Let Your Voice Be Heard

Please sign the petition and help us preserve historic Summit Avenue and ensure that the parklike conditions will remain for the future.

Say NO to the City of Saint Paul's proposed Summit Avenue Regional Trail Master Plan.

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The Summit Avenue Master Regional Trail Plan is currently being drafted, and feedback is requested from citizens. Preliminary design guidelines were released by the City on May 25th, 2022. A draft master plan is expected in late August.

One of the stated goals of the City's current plan is to "limit impacts to greenspace and trees" and "limit impacts to vehicle and parking functions". However, design concepts released to date will impact these facilities. We are at serious risk of losing one of our most valuable resources, our mature trees, considerable parking (50% or more, in areas), our existing on-street bike lanes (preferred by many cyclists), all while creating significant safety issues.

Summit Avenue brings tremendous value to Saint Paul and the region as a tourist and visitor destination, and as an urban oasis for Saint Paul residents…. all because the community has made Summit Avenue one of the best-preserved historic streets in the country. If you value protecting Summit Avenue as a viable corridor for pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists for generations to come, please join us.  Call your councilmember and let them know how you stand on the issue.

City's Proposed Summit Avenue Modernized Plan

How Can You Help?

Beyond signing the petition above, we asked that all concerned citizens do the following:

Contact Your Councilperson

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Contact Historic Preservation Offices

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Contact Planning Commission

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Donate to Fundraiser

Donate for the creation of yard signs and other initiatives.

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Show Your Support With a Yard Sign

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#SaveSummitAvenue

Share your comments on social media using the hashtag #savesummitavenue

Upcoming Meetings

We encourage all members of our community to attend public meetings. Please preregister for all online Zoom meetings.

More Meetings Coming Soon.

What Is Being Proposed?

While details have not yet been finalized, the City has released general details surrounding a number of proposed design guidelines for constructing the trail. These include:

  • Removing a significant amount of mature trees, forever altering the character of Summit Avenue. This will happen if the roadway is expanded 3+ feet, which is being proposed.
  • Creating significant safety and logistical issues, such as those at where resident's driveways (150+) and the trail would intersect. And who would have the right of way at each of these intersections?
  • Eliminating considerable amounts of parking (50%+ or more, in areas), which would affect people with accessibility issues, parents dropping off kids at school, people going to church, people visiting Summit Avenue, and residents on neighboring streets, among other issues

There are solutions that exist that do not involve impacting either trees nor parking.

See Design Guidelines

A Solution Searching For a Problem?

Who is this master plan intended to serve? Overall, what is the "point"? Is anyone in the bicycle community actually pushing for a regional trail on Summit? Why aren't other corridors, such as Marshall Avenue, being considered? St Paul’s Fall 2021 survey demonstrates that more than twice as many respondents wanted a connecting route on Marshall compared to Summit. Marshall Avenue connects directly to Minneapolis via the Marshall-Lake Street bridge.

Significant Considerations

300+ Trees Are At Risk

There are 190 north side boulevard trees and 202 south side boulevard trees. Root systems may occupy an area four to seven times the surface area occupied by the crown of the tree, so any minimization of the boulevard may put many of the trees at risk.

Safety

How will the Regional Trail cross 151 driveways on the south side of Summit without significant disruptions? The City has stated that they will bring the driveways to the same grade as the trail, but is that realistic?


Historial Preservation

Summit Avenue is special and such a Regional Trail will put at risk what must be preserved.

Parking and Accessibility

Accessibility for our most vulnerable populations will be drastically affected if street marking is drastically minimized (at best) or reduced altogether west of Lexington (at worst).

The Importance of Trees and Green Space

Summit Avenue is an urban parkland in the heart of the City. While the proposed regional trail plan suggests minimizing impact to trees, the plan designers are not adhering to guidance from arborists with urban experience.

Trees are our largest source of green infrastructure and enhance the landscape by providing shade to homes, roads and parking lots, and provide color, beauty and character to the community.

Trees also provide benefits behind the scenes, such as the interception and storage of rainwater and carbon, the reduction of noise pollution and have proven to reduce crime and stress.”

(From the City of Saint Paul's Urban Tree Canopy Assessment)

In addition, research has shown that trees and greenery have a positive effect on life spans.

Outside of their visual appeal, research shows that trees:

  • Improve physical and mental health
  • Create stronger community ties
  • Reduce crime rates
  • Improve student performance
  • Reduce energy use and bills
  • Mitigate the Urban Heat Island effect
  • Store and sequester carbon
  • Are an important habitat
  • Are an important source of infrastructure especially for storm water management

Safety on Summit

Below are just a few of the safety and logistical issues that will arise if a separate Regional Trail is implemented:

How will driveways be dealt with?

There are 150+ driveways between Lexington and the Cathedral that have residents pulling out onto Summit that would intersect with a two-way bike paved/asphalt trail on the south side. This is not practical, especially considering the elevation changes between the trail and the driveways. An off-road trail will increase risks to cyclists by forcing them to cross hundreds of uncontrolled intersections with driveways and sidewalks; drivers are not used to traffic off the street and experience demonstrates this creates higher risk.

E-Bikes and Electric Scooters
E-bikes and electric scooters travel at a high rate of speed (up to 28 mph), and they would be traveling alongside regular bicyclists and other pedestrians on the sidewalk. This is not necessarily a safer solution to what is currently in place.

Research Has Shown That Two Way Bicycle Lanes Are Not Safer

"...It's worth noting that there are some downsides to this type of infrastructure [2-way trails], however. Well, there's essentially one big downside. People in most countries of the world are in the habit of looking for oncoming traffic on their left when they are turning left, but two-way bike lanes result in bicyclists coming up from the far left on the back side. Copenhagenize's Mikael Colville-Andersen discussed this yesterday in an article that seems to be in response to the NITC findings but doesn't specifically mention the report. Here are some of his thoughts:

In Denmark, the on-street, bi-directional facility was removed from Best Practice for bicycle infrastructure over two decades ago. That in itself might be an alarm bell to anyone paying attention. These two way cycle tracks were found to be more dangerous than one-way cycle tracks on each side of the roadway. There is a certain paradigm in cities... I'm not saying it's GOOD, but it's there. Traffic users all know which way to look when moving about the city. Having bicycles coming from two directions at once was an inferior design.
This was in an established bicycle culture, too. The thought of putting such cycle tracks into cities that are only now putting the bicycles back - cities populated by citizens who aren't use to bicycle traffic - makes my toes curl.

He also references a December 2013 OECD report that advises against two-way bike lanes on the street. (Going through parks, the safety issues disappear of course.)

And he quotes Theo Zeegers of the Dutch national cycling organisation, Fietsersbond, in order to share his opinion on the matter: 'Bi-directional cycle tracks have a much higher risk to the cyclists than two, one-directional ones. The difference on crossings is about a factor 2. So, especially in areas with lots of crossings (ie. builtup areas), one-directional lanes are preferred. Not all municipalities get this message, however.'

So, you've got two conflicting points here: one is that two-way bike lanes are correlated with stronger bicycling growth than any other type of protected bike lane in this NITC report (more research needs to be done to confirm causation, not simply correlation), and second is that on-street two-way bike lanes are considerably less safe than on-street one-way bike lanes according to numerous bicycle planning experts and authorities.

The questions I'm left with are: Is it more worthwhile to attract people to bicycling than to build the absolute safest bike lanes? (Remember that bicycling also increases a great deal as ridership increases.) Is there any possibility two-way bike lanes could perform better in the US than in Europe? (I don't see why that would be the case.)

Mikael has a very clear opinion on this matter: 'If someone advocates infrastructure like this and actually believes it is good, they probably shouldn't be advocating bicycle infrastructure.'"

More to Consider

There are many challenges around implementing a separate trail on any boulevard on Summit Avenue.

Winter Plowing and Maintenace

Where will the snow from Summit, from the trail and from adjacent sidewalks go?
 And will the trail really be maintained? There is an existing trail along 35E, the Little Bohemia Trail, that is not adequately maintained.

Street Parking

We cannot afford to minimize parking for Grand Avenue shops & restaurants, Summit Avenue churches and schools, Summit's many apartment residents, and more. Parking studies that are being referenced were conducted in the midst of the pandemic.

Economic Impact

In 2019, Ramsey County drew $2.3 Billion in tourism spending. Summit Avenue attractions make up an important part of this.

A Historic District Lost Cannot be Reclaimed

A regional trail that changes the features of what the community has invested so much to maintain threatens the Summit Avenue corridor. The historic streetscape brings tremendous value to the city and region as a tourist and visitor destination.

Why else would the city and state tourism offices promote its features? And why are residents drawn to this green oasis like a beckoning mirage away from the hustle and bustle of commercial business districts?

Many cities throughout the United States once had grand streets and boulevards throughout their cities, such as Prairie Avenue in Chicago, Euclid Avenue in Cleveland, Park Avenue in Minneapolis, and Fifth Avenue in New York City, to name a few.

All of these streets have at least lost a portion of their residential and historic character, except for Saint Paul’s Summit Avenue. The tree canopy, wide boulevards, slate curbs, and more greatly contribute to this historic character.

Tourist Attraction

Both Explore Minnesota and Visit Saint Paul tourism offices tout Summit Avenue’s distinct features.

In 2019, Ramsey County drew $2.3 Billion in tourism spending and the combined Minneapolis-Saint Paul region, $11.4 Billion. (Explore MN), which supports the City of Saint Paul preserving the distinct streetscape of the two National Historic Districts.

Historic Designations

The following districts exist on Summit Avenue.

Mississippi River to Oxford Street

This street is under the West Summit Avenue Historic District, and is in a National Historic District and Local Heritage Preservation District.

East from Ayd Mill Road

This stretch is in a State Historic District and in the Historic Hill District.

Oxford St. S – East

This stretch is in the Historic Hill District, a National Historic District, and a Local Heritage Preservation District.

Is The Current Bike Lane Set-Up Really That Bad?

No one disputes that the current roads desperately need to be improved, and that includes the bike lanes.

The current road conditions on Summit Avenue, including the bike lanes, are very poor. All residents would like to see improved roadways and it is hard to believe that everyone doesn't support better marked bike lanes. The lanes should be re-painted, and buffers should be added where possible, without reducing parking or greenspace.

In The News

Join the Discussion

What people are saying in the neighborhood. Share your comments below.

"Summit Ave is the bike commuters and bike riders best option.  The current set up is what is the best set up for riders of all ages and commuters. I ride Summit daily and have for 40 years as a resident of St Paul and as a business owner in St Paul.

Summit is a glorious street to ride for the serenity, the beautiful homes and the lovely tree lined median. Summit despite its bad surface, big bike lanes are safe and efficient, and we don't have problems with cross traffic and intersections. I see joggers/runners and dog walkers walking the median enjoying the green places, trees and the soil! We have a great place for all! A mixed paved path will ruin a pleasured running and walking surface and have a bad impact on our treasured street.

Please leave Summit alone."

Dan Casebeer
Owner of Grand Performance Bike Shop
"This plan to destroy Summit Avenue with “regional bike trails” is a brazen clandestine effort perpetrated by individuals with no historical perspective of this magnificent Avenue who probably don’t even live on Summit Avenue. To those who would desecrate this historic street, please use your resources to repave the avenue, now riddled with cracks, bumps, and potholes. You should all be ashamed of yourselves. Your plan is a rape of a wonderful street."
Alford Karayusuf
"NO! Summit Avenue is known across the country as one of the finest streets still remaining untouched in an urban area. Do not destroy its historical and architectural significance."
Cecilia Mazique
"Please keep summit as is. Consider replacing the pavement more frequently. And put guard rails between bikes and traffic. But keep it as is with mature trees and the same footprint it currently has."
Titus Kennedy
"My friends and family have grown up walking, biking and enjoying Summit Ave as it is for generations. The design does not need to change. Whoever came up with this insane idea needs a reality check. Repair and repave, yes. Modify? Absolutely not. This idea is not “city planning” — this idea is city destroying. Preserve the integrity of our holy Summit Avenue and LEAVE IT ALONE."
Zane Hill
"We have family in St. Paul that we visit regularly; we have long-time friends who live on Summit Ave and whom we visit; we come to St. Paul for events at House of Hope Presbyterian, Macalester, St. Thomas, and St. Paul Seminary. Summit Ave is a tree-lined beautiful historic treasure with fine homes, churches, and educational institutions. It is a gorgeous boulevard for motorists, bicyclists, and homeowners. Please do not mess with it!"
William Urbrock
"The trees and properties are so beautiful. Very careful consideration should be made for any roads or construction!!!"
Dawn Bjerkness
"Please dont remove trees and parking. There is already a perfectly good bike lane. I ride my bike everywhere and feel completely safe on summit as is."
Shelly Easton
"It is right and good to preserve the majesty of Summit Avenue. Fix the potholes and leave the trees untouched."
Carolyn McClay
"I am currently visiting Saint Paul from Chicago, for the very first time. While walking down Summit Ave, I was blown away by the beautiful homes and even more beautiful parkway. As an avid biker and family enthusiast, I can imagine myself raising my children here. I’ve been thinking about slowing down from city life, but am afraid to lose my urban lifestyle. After visiting Summit Ave, I decided to move to Saint Paul. However, with recent news regarding potential changes to the landscaping and overall integrity of the street, I am rethinking my decision to move to Saint Paul. I hope the city does not follow through with these plans to change the atmosphere of the street and city it resides in. Thank you for your time, Maeve."
Maeve Nicoll
"I want to keep the historic nature of Summit Avenue in tact as is. There are already bike lanes in place that are more than sufficient. The condition of the roads with all of the pot holes on river road and Summit Avenue should be addressed ASAP, not spending money on projects that are unnecessary and disruptive to the community. It is also a waste of tax dollars and that is the last thing we need to be dealing with in this economic environment."
Janet Thompson
"The bike lane have already ruined summit. Bikers are rude and choose which laws to obey. And as such should be allowed in the first place. Summit should be left to cars and walkers, and even small shops where viable. Summit avenue is historical and any more changes, unless charging it back to the original brick roads, is absolutely disgusting."
Nicolas Holzschuh
"How do you have Summit Hill without the wonderful Summit Ave? I want my neighborhood to stay the beautiful with lush trees, the existing bike lanes, and most of all the historic scenery of St. Paul. We have enough bike trails throughout the city. We aren't the West Coast, this is the Midwest! We have snow almost 6 months if not more during the year. I want my neighborhood to stay the treasure it is. NO Summit Ave Regional Trail for me."
Tamiko Saunders
"I don’t live on Summit but live in St Anthony Park. We just had a horrible blow to Cleveland 200 trees down when the city had been saying 60. Trust is low."
Taylor Burr
"The proposal for changes is so comprehensively destructive and esthetically atrocious that it defies belief. Everyone with a modicum of care for St Paul's living history should oppose it until it is withdrawn and abandoned."
Thomas Clayton
"There is no other street in the country with the architectural development like Summit. Don’t ruin it. Leave it as it is with a bike lane in the street. And yes, I am a recreational and commuter cyclist."
Wayne Ctvrtnik
"Summit Avenue is a beautiful historic area. Please let's keep it that way by not changing the historical character of the street. It definitely needs to be repaved and new curbing installed. But, it already has plenty of space for pedestrians to walk and for bikers to bike (I use the perfectly functional bike lanes regularly and the sidewalks for walking). The historical character of our city should be a prized feature, not something that needs to be changed every time we get a new elected official. Please embrace the historical nature of our beautiful city and not make unsensitive changes just because other cities (MPLS) are doing so. The money to be spent on this project would be more usefully used for other needed purposes, like our education system."
Frank Kreiser
"This proposed trail plan is a bad idea. If the trail is constructed it will forever change the nationally significant historic appeal of Summit Avenue. Along with that, many, many mature trees along the length of Summit Avenue will be cut down. The designers of the proposed trail say they are concerned about preserving trees and the existing landscape but they will not say definitively that trees will not be removed. They are dissembling at best, outright lying at worst. This trail will uproot (literally and figuratively) Summit Avenue to benefit a very few already privileged people. We need to unite to stop this proposed destruction of Summit Avenue!"
John Wood
"Very disappointing that when I typed "save summit ave.org" the powers-that-be directed my search to a pro- make a mess of summit web site. If the city did that, very unethical on their part. Whoever did that should be ashamed. And if this is really not already decided, why has much of the construction on curbs etc. on Summit already been done?"
Allan Osterud
"Please reconsider this terrible esthetic for Summit Ave. Do not remove one tree for this plan. There is no need for such a wide bike lane, and it should wind around the trees rather than cut a straight line along the blvd. Very simple changes that won’t ruin Summit Aves beauty."
Valerie O'Keefe

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With your help, we can preserve Summit Avenue.

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