Why were Tower Grove Ave bike lanes removed?

The recent removal of bike lanes from Tower Grove Avenue has caused a lot of concern in the cycling community (see previous story). Why did the City abandon bicycle infrastructure on the City’s busiest cycling route?  Read below for the latest.

Intersection photos

Lane configuration before (left) and after removal of the “bike slot” on southbound Tower Grove Avenue at Vandeventer. The left lane changed from straight-only to left-only, while the right lane changed from right-only to straight and right.

Intersection of Tower Grove Ave (north/south) and Vandeventer (NE / SW), with Central Industrial Drive going east.  Left turn lane on southbound Tower Grove Ave was apparently added to allow for more truck traffic into Central Industrial.

What we know

The reason for the bike lane removal is unclear. In a recent KMOV News interview, Commissioner of Traffic Deanna Venker says,

“We needed to make it a little easier to help the progression through that intersection for the trucks using that intersection so we added a dedicated left turn single for these truckers,” said Deanna Venker, the Traffic Commissioner for the city.

Venker said the trucks going to Central Industrial couldn’t turn with the current layout so they had to widen the turn lane and that meant getting rid of the designated bike lane.

We reached out to Commissioner Venker with a request for additional details but have not heard back.

We also heard from Alderman Joe Roddy, who first wrote,

I spoke again with the Traffic Commissioner yesterday afternoon. She explained that $12,000 was expended to create the new turn lane and that happened only after they spent an extensive amount of time studying the intersection and concluded that the risks of car accidents were greater.

Asked for additional details, Alderman Roddy backtracked:

To be clear, I was relaying information from my conversation with Deanna. When I wrote “they spent an extensive amount of time studying the intersection” in the original email, it was my impression that a staff person made an on site visit to watch the movement in the intersection and I presumed reviewed traffic counts etc before deciding to reconfigure the interesection. I didn’t have the impression that a formal report was prepared, but I might be wrong.

Sorry if the “phasing” of my response misled you.

Was there a study?

Did the City perform a study before removing the bike lanes?  We don’t know, and so far they’re not saying.

If a study was performed before the intersection was reconfigured, we would like to see it. As a member of a community negatively impacted by this change, having an understanding of how and why bike lanes were removed is important. We are particularly interested in knowing,

  • Was there a formal study of this intersection prior to the reconfiguration?
  • Was the cycling community consulted?
  • What is the basis for the statement that removing bike lanes will make the intersection safer?  Was bicycle safety considered at all?
  • More broadly, how serious is the City about promoting bicycle infrastructure? Is there a real commitment to improving bicycle safety and connectivity, or just words?

What’s next?

From past experience, getting St. Louis City to live up to its stated obligations about bike infrastructure is no easy task, but its not impossible – check out our past work to see what success looks like.

If you want to help, most important is to make your voice heard.  If you’re on Twitter, share your concerns with the STL City Streets Department (@StlStreets) and Mayor Lyda Krewson (@LydaKrewson), and use the hash tag #SafeTGA.  You can also reach out to Mayor Krewson on Facebook, and write to the Streets Department.  If you live in St. Louis City, reach out to Aldermen Annie Rice and Joe Roddy as well as your own Alderman to let them know your thoughts.

Finally, get in touch with us – we’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

Posted in Advocacy and Opinion, Tower Grove Ave
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  1. […] Update: See our latest post for an update. […]

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