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Thursday's Wabasha Street Block Party is fete with a purpose

Posted by: Tim Harlow Updated: July 23, 2014 - 6:07 PM

It's going to be midday block party on Wabasha Street Thursday with lots of festivities from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. from Kellogg Blvd. to Exchange Street.

But since this is a transportation blog, the Drive is going to focus one of the reasons for the shindig: improving bicycling in downtown St. Paul.

There are not a lot of great places to ride in downtown, something city leaders have set out to address. Earlier this year, St. Paul started working on a policy to develop bike corridors to increase cycling for transit and recreation purposes.

One idea being floated is a downtown loop that would circle the business district much like the Cultural Trail for bikes and pedestrians does in Indianapolis. The loop, as proposed now, would run on Kellogg Boulevard and Jackson, 10th and St. Peter streets, and connect to the nearby Gateway, Bruce Vento and Samuel Morgan regional trails.

 But business owners and others have written letters in efforts to get loop moved from St. Peter Street to Wabasha Street, said Stephanie Weir, a spokeswoman for St. Paul Smart Trips, a nonprofit that works to improve transportation and accessibility.

At Thursday's Wabasha Street Block Party, a short segment of Wabasha Street, 5th to 7th Streets to be exact, will be converted into a protected bike lane to show how the loop would work on Wabasha.  (Bring your own and try it out, or take a free ride using a Nice Ride Bike.)

The idea behind the bike lane and the party itself  is to show  a future Wabasha that "is more pedestrian, bike and business friendly," Weir said.

On the entertainment front, a New Orleans jazz band will march down Wabasha. Party goers will be able to make their own sound by using drums, noise makers and percussion instruments in a "Social Jam Session" led by Ross Hackenmiller.

A similar event called the "Future of Fourth" was held earlier this year.

Photo credit Mark Kartarik, Future of Fourth

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