Save Our Street & Share Summit

Summit Avenue is OUR street. SOS stands for Save Our Street because Summit belongs to all of Saint Paul, it is OUR flagship street. And people far beyond our capital city have signed our SOS petition and expressed their support.

We believe it’s important to ensure that Summit Avenue remains a viable corridor for everyone, pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists for generations to come.

See The City's Master Plan

Let Your Voice Be Heard

Please sign the petition to save our street 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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How You Can Help

Beyond signing the petition and adding a testimonial, we ask that all concerned citizens do the following:

Provide Your Comments on the Master Plan

You have until November 30 to add your comments.

Add Your Comments

Contact Decision-makers

Contact decision-makers at the city and state level and let them know how you stand on the issue.

Contact Information

Donate to Fundraiser

Donate for the creation of yard signs and other initiatives.

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#SaveSummitAvenue

Share your comments on social media using the hashtag #savesummitavenue

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

The City’s 60% Draft Master Plan Has Been Released for the Summit Avenue Regional Trail

A draft of the master plan is now available for public comment during the month of November. The draft document can be found online HERE for review.  The document reflects about 60% progress. Please share your comments with City staff through this survey.

Our concerns remain and are heightened. Current design concepts call for significant tree loss, significant safety issues related to driveway, walkways, and side street intersections, and more significant loss of parking than we had anticipated.  Please review and add your comments. The deadline to submit public comments is November 30.

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 council member and let them know how you stand on the issue.

Provide Public Comments

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.

See Suggested Alternatives

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.'"

City Data Shows that Wheelock Parkway is just as Safe as the Current Bike Lane Configuration on Summit Avenue for Bikers and Pedestrians

See graph comparing Summit Avenue (on-street lanes) and Wheelock Parkway (off-street trail) from the 2019 – 2022 crash data published on the City’s website.

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.

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
"Leave the street, parking, and particularly the Boulevard alone. It works just fine for everyone and it is very very pleasant to be around. Don’t screw it up."
Jim RutIck
"I oppose the cycle path proposed for Summit Avenue. We need another option: Save trees, save parking, slow traffic with narrower drive lanes, and create in-street, wider, high-visibility bike lanes."
Linda Bjorklund
"I find it horrendous that the city has such little regard for the historic and aesthetic nature of Grand/Crocus Hill, Summit Avenue. We do not want our neighborhood to look like Eagan, or what has happened to Uptown Minneapolis. This current administration has no regard for the thoughts or concerns of this neighborhood! Daniel Tesch"
Daniel Tesch
"I am opposed to eliminating parking on any side of Summit ave. I read that because of the amount of traffic on Summit a divided bike lane is needed for safety, the other option is to move to bike lane to a less busy street eliminating Summit ave. Residents on Summit from Lexington to Snelling Ave donated 20 feet of their property to create green space, please don’t mess this space up."
James Kennelly
"Summit Avenue is one of the key unique features of the history of St Paul and altering it would make the city more bland and generic. There also are plenty of bike lanes in the area so this doesn’t really serve any missing need."
Alex Hennen
"Residents need more time to evaluate the impact and details of such a major plan."
Jacqueline Reisenauer
"Summit Avenue is very special. Not only to me, but to the citizens of our city and state of Minnesota. I have taken the time to review the plans, and unfortunately I believe they will detract from the historic integrity and the beauty of one of the most important public amenities we have in the city. Summit Avenue is a gem, and let's keep it that way."
Montana Scheff
"I strongly oppose the Summit Avenue Regional Trail Master Plan. Please do not approve this plan."
Ryan Knoke
"It is necessary for a society to remember it's past, for better or For worse, as a means to recycle the good and understand that which went bad. Architecture is one of the foundations to a memory of which is not clouded by romance, but clearly displayed by truth that's hidden within each stone, and each brick, and each design. Nothing is trivial. Destroying history destroys our individual and collective futures."
Drew Christensen
"I’m still grappling with the idea that the Saint Paul City Council would negate 137 years of an historic Boulevard, and in that process would be taking down trees which we are trying to preserve not eradicate. None of this makes sense. There are so many other streets you could be choosing. Or not do this at all. Or do it without harm. I don’t live on Summit Avenue, but that does not keep me from recognizing the importance of this Boulevard and driving on it almost daily. This bike lane would have limited usage, given the long winters we are known to have. I’m pro bike but I don’t get this direction we’ve taken. Why are we putting seven months of expanded bike usage ahead of the year round needs of cars, pedestrians and current bike lane users? Enjoying this historic mature tree-lined Boulevard belongs to all of us."
Wendy McCulley
"Summit Ave. is of historical importance to the entire area. We have family who live on Summit and we are in our 70's and biking is not an option. Bikers have other options such as Dayton or Selby Aves. to reach downtown. Our family home on E. Minnehaha Pkwy. was damaged when a large boulevard Elm tree fell on the house after the Pkwy. was redone and supporting tree roots were removed."
Steve Nelson
"I have been walking this green, leafy, peaceful avenue for over fifty years. It is, to me, the symbol of a city that values its history and its people. Why in the world would you ruin this simply because federal money is available to do so? This is a city with many infrastructure issues. How did you decide to prioritize this project? What surveys convinced you that car traffic would be reduced and more bicycles would be used if you proceed?"
Marjorie Wherley
"Please leave Summit Ave as is and first consider much needed repairs such as resurfacing and repainting existing bike lanes indications. Summit Ave is a historical landmark. Altering it in any way will be destroying one of very few such neighborhoods in the US. Trees are historic too! And provide much needed shade and cooling effects in the spring and summer months not to mention gorgeous colors in the fall. And haven’t we already removed enough trees in our city? The plan to remove stumps and replace is years out… Trees of the size and maturity if Summit Ave are irreplaceable! Leave them alone (no pun intended). There are many alternatives to this proposed plan and the voices of the citizens should be heard & heeded. Not to mention this is a residential area home to many and most of which do not have access to off street parking. Summit Ave is our home and we love it just as it is. Please look elsewhere for spending this money such as the Ford Spur if another bike trail is a must or far better yet repairing ALL the roads of St. Paul."
Megan Tate
"If you do this, future generations will curse you ! Ruining beautiful Summit Avenue for the BikeLobbyL I’ve lived here sinc 1963, worst idea ever!"
Jo Anne Ryan
"I live in the area and ride my bike on Summit several times a week. It serves as an excellent junction to many trails in the region in it's current configuration. This plan is unnecessary and I do not see it leading to a better experience for bikers like myself. Summit avenue is historic and a signature piece of what makes our town special. It is enjoyed for walking, biking and recreating by so many residents and students every day of the year. There is no reason to overthink this. Please consider leaving Summit just the way it is so we may all continue to enjoy it for the years to come."
William Stewart
"Saint Paul’s proposed $12 million Summit Avenue Regional Bike Trail, though seemingly well intentioned, is fraught with many unknowns that will likely result in unintended and irreversible consequences, with no proven increase in bicyclist safety. Before city departments and the city council approve the project’s recently unveiled Regional Trail Master Plan, they must prove that once completed, the trail will not be yet one more civic-improvement debacle built on good but not fully thought-out intentions. According to the master plan, regional trails “are intended to pass through or provide connections between regional parks.” At a recent meeting of the Parks and Recreation Department, a community member asked a city design engineer if there were any dedicated regional bike trails similar in length and design to the proposed Summit Avenue trail that also run through a highly developed urban residential neighborhood like the one along Summit Avenue. His answer was no; he and his staff were not aware of a similar bike trail in the region or even the nation. The Summit Avenue Bike Trail, if completed, would then be the first of its kind: a 5.4-mile-long ribbon of off-road pavement running through the heart of an old and established Saint Paul neighborhood. It would intersect with forty-eight cross-streets, seven of which are high-traffic-count connectors. The danger posed by those intersections is real and will not be diminished. In the last ten years, there have been thirty-two reported accidents between vehicles and bicycles on Summit Avenue, most of which occurred at one or another of its intersections. Two accidents, both at the intersection with Snelling Avenue, a high-speed, high-volume county highway, killed the bicyclists involved. One death was the fault of the vehicle driver; the other was the fault of the bicyclist. There is no evidence to show that the new trail will reduce or eliminate these types of accidents, given that it will intersect with the same forty-eight cross-streets. The new trail will also become more dangerous for bicyclists designated as “advanced” in the Metro Council Regional Trail Plan: rigorous, recreational riders—those who often bike between regional parks—and long-distance commuters. These cyclists desire fast, unimpeded transit and move at an average speed of about 15 miles per hour. It is reasonable to assume that many advanced riders will chose not to use the off-road trail because they will not want to slow down when maneuvering around the slower casual and family bikers the trail is also designed to serve. Instead, they will ride on Summit Avenue as they do now, except without the benefit of an on-road bike lane, which will be eliminated to make room for the new trail. Not only will drivers and bicyclists need to share a single vehicle lane, but the master plan does not provide enough room for vehicles to safely pass cyclists—a recipe for frustration, anger, and accidents. Residents of Saint Paul are being asked to buy the proverbial pig in a poke—a $12 million pig. The master plan—seductive because it hits all the high notes of what many of us consider good urban living—is little more than a bureaucratic fever dream for an untested and unproven concept. It leaves far too many questions unanswered, including the impact of the trail’s construction on the hundreds of mature trees along its route as well as its impact on the character of a nationally cherished historic district. Safe bicycling for all should be the goal of an urban bike trail. This goal can be achieved on Summit Avenue by less intrusive means such as paving and striping the road, installing traffic calming devices at each intersection, and enforcing current speed limits. If the city implemented these simple measures, Summit would provide an expedient and safe experience for all bicyclists at a fraction of the cost. Patrick Contardo Robyn Roslak 1845 Summit Avenue St. Paul, MN 55105 218-390-0322 contardo@d.umn.edu"
Patrick Contardo
"The Met Council and Parks and Rec Department tout the Summit Avenue Trail for its increased safety for bicyclists. The “bike” trail, as proposed and as designed, will in fact be less safe than the current on-street bike trail. It is a mischaracterization to refer to the Summit Avenue Regional Trail as a bikeway. Three segments of Summit Avenue, according to the City of Saint Paul Bicyclist and Pedestrian 2019 Count Report, are the most popular walking streets in Saint Paul. Besides those who walk on foot, the report also defines pedestrians as "individuals using assistive devices such as strollers or skateboards." Because of its immense popularity with Saint Paul residents and tourists alike, a dedicated 5.4-mile-long paved trail will likely be used more by non-cyclists than cyclists. These other users would include but not be restricted to: runners, and runners with jogging strollers; electric scooters; electric bikes; motorized wheelchairs; skateboards; dog walkers; parents with children in strollers and on training bikes; and walking groups wanting or needing a wider walkway. Many will be using ear buds or similar devices that make it difficult to hear other trail users approaching from behind. They will all see the trail as not just for cyclists but as an amenity to be shared by all. Most of the sidewalks along Summit are 4 ft. wide, with some 5 ft., and one segment of about 6 ft. Almost all sidewalks are uneven from frost heaving and tree roots, which makes for hazardous walking. It impossible to use a skateboard, and almost impossible to safely use an electric or non-electric scooter on them. Motorized wheelchairs, runners, runners with jogging strollers, electric scooters, and skateboarders currently use the striped, on-street bike lanes because they are wider and smoother than the sidewalks. During winter months, Summit’s existing striped on-street bike lanes are used not only by cyclists, but also by most non-cyclists, runners, and even a few walkers. All these users feel safer on the street than on adjacent ice- and snow-covered sidewalks. As the "bike trail" (a misnomer, really) becomes the preferred path for other users, the advanced and casual cyclists who want to ride at a fast clip (15 mph) and avoid conflicts with other trail users who may not hear them due to earbuds, will revert to riding in the street. However, vehicle lanes are too narrow to allow a car, let alone commercial vehicle, to pass a bicyclist. Bicyclists have full legal rights to operate in the vehicle lane of all city streets if they obey traffic laws. Mississippi River Boulevard is a prime example of what trail congestion looks like. Almost 100% of advanced bikers ride in the street and not on the adjacent bike trail because of the great number of pedestrians enjoying the beauty the boulevard. Saint Paul would have a safer bike trail -- and save $12 million -- by repairing the sidewalks along Summit, resurfacing the street, restriping current bike lanes, and installing traffic-calming devices at the 48 intersections. Patrick Contardo 218.390.0322 contardo@d.umn.edu"
Patrick Contardo
"I'm with Dan of the Bike Shop. I've been riding Summit Ave since 2001 when I moved to St. Paul. Don't fix what's not broken but some well placed Asphalt and Seal Coating will go a long way to improving the Bike Lanes. I ride on sidewalks now because I'm too old for Off Road riding."
Michael McGarrity
"Please continue your great work. Please keep Summit as it is. The changes to Ayd Mill and Pelham were bad enough but this going too far. Carters city planners need to have a reckoning. Sorry I could not make your open house. Where can I view the proposed planned changes? Thank you, PetrB"
Peter Brozek, AIA Emeritus

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