St. Paul road safety meeting takes on new urgency after bicyclist's death last month

Summit Avenue in St. Paul is one of the most traveled routes through the city, but many say it's unsafe for both pedestrians and cyclists. 

The death of a biker who was struck by a school bus last month on the busy roadway is just one instance advocates are pointing to as evidence, with many others sharing their stories of close calls and injuries sustained while riding in the area at a town hall on the Macalester College campus Tuesday evening.

"I’ve been doored twice," said cyclist Tom Basgen. "Nothing serious, but I have hugged a landscaper at eight miles per hour."

According to the city, out of 700 2016 bicycle and pedestrian crashes 19 took place on Summit Avenue. These growing concerns have given rise to the Safety on Summit campaign, a movement for numerous safety improvements in the area.

Representatives from Mayor Melvin Carter's office were at the meeting to gauge feedback and brainstorm next steps, leading to what officials hope is a healthy and productive dialogue on how to best protect everyone who uses the road.

"We are asking for protective bike lanes along Summit Avenue, switching the bike lane for the parking lane that currently exists and then putting a permanent protective barrier in between," SOS organizer Lauren Nielsen said at Tuesday's meeting. "We never want to see another death along Summit Avenue or anywhere else in the city. I think that’s really the goal we’re aiming for."