The NENO Transportation Committee conducted a survey in late 2017 to gather opinions from residents, employees, and others about Western Avenue in the North End. This survey was done in advance of an anticipated repaving project on Western Avenue from Como Avenue to Front Street done by Saint Paul Public Works.
Results are summarized below, with full anonymized results at the end of the page. Two responses were removed that were submitted almost simultaneously with fake and abusive email addresses. Overall, 90 responses were collected.
The survey was distributed online through the NENO newsletter and social media. In addition, a flier was distributed to every property on Western Avenue in the second week of the survey with information about the survey and instructions on how to take it.
About the respondents
Survey takers were asked to define their relationship to Western Avenue and this area of the North End. Over 70% of respondents indicated that they live or work in the North End, and 28% live or work directly on Western Avenue. Some respondents indicated that they use Western Avenue regularly, although they do not live or work in the area.
Respondents were asked to indicate how they get around the city, and were allowed to select as many modes as applicable. Nearly 90% of respondents indicated that they get around the city in a solo car. 22% of respondents indicated that they also carpool; 39% that they use public transit; 57% walk; and 49% bike.
One third of respondents (33%) indicated that they travel on Western Avenue every day, and another 38% said that they travel on Western several times a week. Only 6.7% of respondents travel on Western less than once per month. Slightly more than 30% of respondents visit destinations on Western several times per week, but nearly 38% of respondents said they visit destinations on Western once per month or less. This reflects the fact that there are only a handful of businesses on Western (most notably Kamp’s Grocery Store) and most uses are residential.
Respondents were offered an opportunity to express their opinions about the intersection of Como and Western, which is largely outside the boundaries of the expected repaving work.
Several respondents expressed a desire for a dedicated left turn lane from southbound Western Avenue to eastbound Como Avenue, as this is a frequent maneuver for vehicles headed toward downtown. Some also expressed a desire for a protected left-turn phase at this intersection. Respondents also expressed an interest in beautification at the intersection, including more green space and enhancements to the overlook at the northwest corner.
Responses were varied regarding bike lanes here. Several respondents were against the idea of bike lanes on Western at the intersection, but a similar number wrote in favor. Ideas included protected bike lanes and closing the right-turn pocket from eastbound Como to southbound Western.
Pedestrian improvements along Western
Respondents were asked about potential pedestrian improvements to Western Avenue.
The first question was asked about bumpouts, which are curb extensions that shorten crossing distances for pedestrians and slow vehicle movements where crashes most often occur. 58% of respondents agreed with the statement “I like bumpouts, and would like to see as many as possible”. 11.4% supported bumpouts, but with more limited deployment (either exclusively on Western, or exclusively on side streets adjacent to Western). 20.5% of respondents agreed with the statement “I do not like bumpouts”. In addition, around 10% respondents chose custom responses somewhere along the spectrum (see full results).
Respondents were also asked about high-visibility crosswalks (“zebra” or “continental” crosswalks), which are thought to be more visible than traditional painted crosswalks. 89% of respondents indicated that they would like to see these at major intersections, and 61% indicated that they would like to see them at Western/Cook (Kamp’s Grocery).
Respondents were asked the following: “There have been efforts for many years to get improvements at Western/Cook that would make the intersection safer for pedestrians. Saint Paul Public Works has repeatedly refused to add crosswalk markings here without other changes to make pedestrian crossings safer. Which of the following (if any) would you support here? (pick as many as apply)”
53% would support 4-way Stop signs at the intersection. 62% supported flashing pedestrian beacons. 28% supported a full traffic signal. 17% indicated they would like the intersection left the same.
A similar question was asked about the intersection of Western and Maryland, with much less consensus. All three options received between 47% and 48% of respondent support. 14% indicated they would like the intersection left the same.
Respondents were asked for any other suggestions they had for the intersection. Several respondents expressed an interest in turn lanes from northbound Western onto Maryland. A few asked if a roundabout would be possible.
Based on feedback from Saint Paul Public Works on previous projects, the survey did not ask for respondents’ opinion on whether bicycle facilities should be implemented on Western Avenue, because the street is included in the city-approved Bicycle Plan and some sort of facility will be implemented in the corridor. Instead, respondents were asked for input on how those facilities could best be implemented to serve the neighborhood without excessive disruption.
Respondents were asked to rank five values on a scale of 1-5, with 1 as most important and 5 as least. Unfortunately, several respondents expressed confusion with this system, so it is difficult to know how valuable these responses were. Average values were as follows:
Bicycle safety: 3.2
Pedestrian safety: 2.2
Maximum parking: 3.4
Lower traffic speeds: 2.8
Reduced congestion: 3.3
Respondents were also asked the following: “The Saint Paul Bicycle Plan also envisions a bike route on Farrington St (two blocks east of Western Ave) which could supplement or replace part of the bike route on Western Ave. This would not significantly affect on-street parking but could someday mean added traffic calming features on Farrington St such as bumpouts, changes to make Maryland easier to cross for pedestrians and bikes, or small traffic circles. How do you feel about the idea of these features on Farrington St?”
55% of respondents rated the concept as “very” or “somewhat” positive, 24% as “very” or “somewhat” negative. Respondents were also asked about their opinions of various places the route could switch from Western to Farrington, and responses were mostly evenly split.
Full survey responses available here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1M43Y_OW0mFX_ATmgwIqbFrBJDWueUxNChL8bJzmBaOg/