During our block party in 2011 we brainstormed ideas for calming traffic on Lincoln. The RSVP project gives a chance to realize some of these ideas. Here is some recent news about traffic calming efforts.

Only the Traffic Circle Petition Still Circulating

We had two petitions prepared by the city in hand, one for two “bumpouts” on the north side of the street (matching the north-side bumpout on northwest corner of Lincoln and Cleveland), and second for a traffic circle at Lincoln and Prior (like the one that has been installed at Lincoln and Finn). Each petition would require 75% support to succeed. The bumpouts petition has failed to gather enough support. If you have not yet signed the traffic circle petition, please contact Eric or stop by 1993 Lincoln to sign or ask questions. Click on the images below for greater detail.

Traffic Circle Petition

city drawing of traffic circle with bus making a right turn

We the undersigned property owners/residents, hereby petition the City of Saint Paul to cause the following:

  • Build a permanent traffic circle on Prior Avenue South at Lincoln Avenue with no parking near corners.

This petition requires 75% support from neighbors on Lincoln between Cleveland and Howell. You can see how it is doing on our progress page.

A traffic circle at the intersection of Lincoln and Prior would both slow down traffic along Prior and serve as a “gateway” to the residential neighborhood for traffic turning off of Grand. It would also be a tiny bit of additional green in the neighborhood, sprucing up our corner of Mac-Groveland. There is a circle now at Lincoln and Finn (on the way to Cretin) that was kept nicely clear last winter, and Russ Stark said he’d seen some circles in his neighborhood that were also well plowed. A concern was raised about the ability of large vehicles to negotiate the “round-the-circle” left turns. City traffic engineer Monica Beeman told a neighborhood meeting that some commercial vehicles, like school busses, are given permission to carefully “cheat” the left turn, cutting in front of the circle in a way they can negotiate. There would also never be circles at two consecutive intersections, so at worst a large vehicle could reroute so that it could come straight through the circle.

The question of parking has come up a number of times as we’ve knocked on doors. Monica Beeman has repeatedly confirmed that the traffic circle has no impact on the parking at the corners. The no-parking zone remains as it is right now. The only difference is that they may choose to mark this currently existing no-parking zone with signs when they install the circle. Again, this does not change the size of the zone, it only make it clearer that it exists.

Some neighbors have also been concerned that the traffic circle would increase the assessment for the RSVP project, in other words, that it will make the project more expensive. This is not the case, according to Lisa Falk-Thompson who is managing the launch of this project. Installing a traffic circle during the reconstruction of the street is no more expensive than installing a normal intersection and will not change the cost of the assessment made to support the RSVP project.

Neighbors would be responsible for maintaining any plantings in the circle, which is one of the reasons that strong support from the “corners” at the circle is so important.

Bumpouts Petition

city drawing of bumpout at Cleveland city drawing of bumpout midblock

We the undersigned property owners/residents, hereby petition the City of Saint Paul to cause the following:

  • Install intersection bumpout on the northeast corner of Lincoln Avenue and Cleveland Avenue South and establish no parking on southside of Lincoln from Cleveland to 130’ east.
  • Install mid-block bumpout on northside of Lincoln Avenue at or near 1993 Lincoln and establish no parking on southside , 20 feet either side of bumpout.

This petition required 75% support from neighbors on Lincoln between Cleveland and Prior. You can see on our progress page that it has failed to do so.

Bumpouts, or curb extensions, narrow the street in a way that promotes safety of pedestrians, slows down traffic, and adds a bit of green to the boulevards. The city has said that our street, which is 32 feet wide, can only accommodate bumpouts along one side of the street and must leave two 13 foot wide lanes for traffic. Bumpouts along the north side of Lincoln would neatly mirror the bumpout that our neighbors west of Cleveland got at the corner of Lincoln and Cleveland as part of their RSVP project last year. Our block is long enough that in addition to a bumpout on the north side of Lincoln at Cleveland.

Bumpouts increase pedestrian safety by giving people on foot a chance to get their view out beyond the line of parked cars without having to leave the curb. When a child, for example, wants to cross the street, they can really get out and see traffic without having to duck out between parked cars. This also helps drivers, who get a better view of the pedestrians waiting to cross. Bumpouts can be filled with grass or rain gardens so they increase the green along the block as well.

Other Ideas

Steve Gorg shared this Living Streets Manual (PDF) from North Saint Paul which shows a number of options being considered in that suburb of Saint Paul. The Twin Cities Greenways project also has great ideas.

One alternative to a traffic circle might be the “teardrop traffic island” that appears in some places around Saint Paul. Here is one example:


We may also want to explore public art for beautifying and calming the street. For example, a Paint the Pavement project at mid-block between Prior and Cleveland to encourage traffic to slow down. Public Art Saint Paul has other ideas including a story on the art of traffic calming.