As the City of St. Paul moves ahead with its plan to increase the number of bicycle lanes and corridors to encourage more people to commute on two wheels, a recent report found that the number of people riding bicycles in the city fell by 7 percent last year.
The number of people walking also was down when compared with 2013 number, declining by 2 percent, according to the 2014 City of St. Paul Bicycle and Pedestrian Report.
Of course, the numbers my not paint the true picture. The report is based on manual counts by volunteers and Public Works Department employees who counted bike and pedestrian traffic at 43 locations between 4 and 6 p.m. on Sept. 9. The total of 2,826 bicyclists compared with 3.047 when a similar count was conducted in 2013. The number of pedestrians fell from 3,014 to 2,963.
Weather might have played a factor in the decline. Wind gusts of 21 miles per hour and a threat of rain and thunderstorms may have suppressed the numbers, the report suggested.
"While the data records a decrease in non-motorized traffic in 2014, the data is too limited to infer an overall reduction in non-motorized traffic in 2014," the report said. "Instead, this decrease is likely reflective of the threat of inclement weather on Sept. 9, 2014."
Overall, bicycling was up 33 percent from 2007 and 2014, the report said.
Bicyclists were most prevalent on the Marshall Avenue Bridge between Minneapolis and St. Paul where 347 were counted. That was followed by the Ford Parkway Bridge (247), Summit Avenue east of Fairview Avenue (232), Mississippi River Blvd. south of Jefferson Avenue (217) and the University of Minnesota Transitway east of Energy Park Drive (192).
The most popular spot for walkers was on Lexington Pkwy. south of Como Lake Drive with 280. That was followed by Mississippi River Blvd. south of Jefferson Avenue (199), the Marshall Avenue Bridge (186), Summit Avenue east of Dale Street (169) and Summit Avenue east of Fairview Avenue (160).
St. Paul has more than 140 miles of bicycle facilities, including 32 miles of roadways striped with bicycle lanes, 18 miles of roadway with bike lanes on the shoulders, 21 miles with road with signed or shared car/bicycle lanes, 73 miles of off-street paths and one bike boulevard.
The city is looking to add 214 miles of bikeways in the next few decades, including includes a downtown bike loop and completion of the Grand Round, a 27-mile route for continuous biking around the city on bike lanes or off-street trails.
The Transportation Committee of the Planning Commission is expected to vote on the plan at its Feb. 9 meeting.