We are trying to change Ayd Mill Road, a city street that looks like a toy freeway, back to looking like a city street.
We can do the change with a minimum of construction and cost. Our proposal, "Stripe, Walk, Bike Ayd Mill Road" proposes to do most of the work with a few barrels of paint.
We have been working for five years on this incredibly difficult problem that is a mix of the public perception of space, the car culture, a public works department that thinks of itself as a public road building department and the city politics of the road building industry.
But that is just a tenth of the fifty years that the road building powers have tried and failed to connect Ayd Mill Road to two freeways which will ruin the neighborhoods, the environment and the city life.
Our effort to change the street started with the city of St Paul's last attempt to connect to the freeways. That "No Connect" victory showed us that there must be changes to the public perception of the use the public land that is Ayd Mill Road. Once again it was shown there are serious environmental and traffic problems and the people do not want a freeway.
The questions we see as most important are: Why does the city come back every 10 years and try to build a freeway? How do we change this behavior?
The road now looks like a toy freeway. We think the perception of "FREEWAY" will continue to be a problem that the city continues to try to solve by creating a real freeway.
To change that perception we need to get people into the corridor to use it as dog walking space, a safe place for kids to play, a corridor to bike to Selby Street for a pizza or to St Clair to pick up a loaf of bread. Then, maybe, the city will not see it as a freeway but as a regular city street used by all people.
Ayd Mill Road was built during the 1950's, it is one and a half mile ravine of four lane crumbling concrete. No pedestrians, bicycles or mopeds allowed.
The street has low traffic and does not connect to high traffic roads. It has been determined over and again for fifty years that connecting to any freeways will generate environmental problems on the north end of the road and traffic problems in all surrounding areas.
The neighborhood it traverses has no park of any size larger than a half a city block. It has the largest amount (20+ acres) of green space in the area that is now can only be used by people in cars. There is also another 20+ acres of "borrowed scenery", a rail line, that makes the space seem even larger. On weekends the traffic is so low it is sometimes closed for neighborhood events.
We want two lanes changed to bicycle and pedestrian traffic. Two lanes for automobile traffic, which is admitted by the city staff to be plenty of car capacity. We only want to share and expande the use of the Ayd Mill Corridor.
This plan expands the use of the road as a bicycle and walking corridor as well as a recreation area. It serves as a North-South connector to the East-West Summit Avenue bicycle route. It is also a connector to the Minneapolis GreenWay bicycle route built on the rail line that connects to the Ayd Mill (Short Line) railway.
The city staff will not cooperate with planning the striping of Ayd Mill Road so we are preparing a striping configuration plan of our own to answer the question of which lanes are to be used for traffic and which for bicycles and pedestrians.