St. Louis adds 150 new miles of bike trails and on-street routes

Great Rivers Greenway District recently announced the opening of over 150 new miles of trails and on-street bicycle routes--including the fact that St. Louis is only the third city in the world to convert an elevated railroad trestle to a multi-use trail. The trestle connects to the new McKinley Bridge Bikeway, which creates another great bicycle and pedestrian link across the Mississippi River near downtown St. Louis:

As the cost for a gallon of gasoline continues to soar to historic heights, St. Louis area residents can enjoy more economical transportation options for commuting, shopping and recreational activities, with more than 150 miles of recently completed trails and on-street bicycle lanes.

The most recent developments include nearly tripling the number of dedicated on-street bicycle routes and shared traffic lanes for the Bike St. Louis program from 20 to 77 miles. In addition, the McKinley Bridge Bikeway and Trestle at Branch Street has been completed, making St. Louis only the third city in the world, after the High Line in New York City and the Promenade Plantée in Paris, to convert a historic elevated steel trestle into a linear urban recreation amenity.

Both projects were led by the Great Rivers Greenway District, the public organization developing a unique, 600-mile web of 45 interconnected greenways, parks and trails, known as The River Ring, that will encircle and crisscross the St. Louis region. The River Ring was instrumental in the region’s winning nomination earlier this month (June 6) for the All America City Award, presented by the National Civic League in Tampa.

Widespread support from residents, local government officials, city staff and the regional transit and planning agencies have been instrumental in expanding the network, including The Metro East Park and Recreation District in Illinois.

Elevated Recreation Area is “Crown Jewel”

The “crown jewel” of recent projects is the McKinley Bridge Bikeway and Trestle at Branch Street, which opened June 7. The Trestle, a former rail corridor, has been converted into a 2,400-ft. long by 24-ft. wide paved path that rises from street level at Branch Street to the height of the McKinley Bridge Bikeway. In addition to spectacular views of the Arch and the downtown skyline, it provides a direct connection to the popular 11-mile Riverfront Trail along the Mississippi River shoreline.

The McKinley Bridge Bikeway features a 2,600-ft. long by 14-ft. wide cantilevered lane that is completely separated from vehicular traffic lanes. Offering dramatic views of the Mississippi River and downtown St. Louis, the bikeway is the most unique and distinctive feature of the reconstructed bridge that was reopened for vehicular traffic last November after being closed since 2001. The McKinley Bridge Bikeway is only the second bicycle/pedestrian bridge to open over the Mississippi River in St. Louis, preceded by the historic Old Chain of Rocks Bridge.

“In just a few short years, I have seen an important change in residents’ attitudes about bicycle trails and lanes,” said St. Louis City Mayor Francis G. Slay. “What was suspicion and resistance five years ago is now enthusiastic support. A nearby trail is viewed – and, more importantly for our physical fitness, used – as an important amenity for City neighborhoods.”

Bike St. Louis Expands Commuting Options

The Bike St. Louis program is operated by the Great Rivers Greenway District in partnership with the City of St. Louis and a variety of bicyclist advocacy organizations. The goal of the project is to develop a regional network of on-street bicycle lanes that provide safe and direct routes to the area’s major employment, residential, cultural and recreational amenities.

The newest 57 miles of on-street routes are the first major expansion of the Bike St. Louis network since 2005, when the first 20 miles of continuous on-street bicycle routes were dedicated and connected downtown St. Louis to surrounding neighborhoods. Nearly 50 miles of the expanded Bike St. Louis routes are located in the City of St. Louis.

“The Great Rivers Greenway District has demonstrated its commitment to the Bike St. Louis program by making the expansion of routes throughout the region a top priority,” said Joe Torrisi, President of the Missouri Bicycle Federation. “The routes are well-designed to make bicycle commuting as convenient as possible, while choosing streets that are best equipped to accommodate shared lanes.”

Safe Bicycling Posters Promote Awareness

With Bike St. Louis connections to St. Louis’ mass transit system, residents and visitors have many options for multi-modal travel to a variety of destinations. The new routes make it easy for people who choose to bicycle the entire distance to work. For those who prefer to bicycle to a MetroLink train station or MetroBus stop, bicycles can be transported to their final destination at no extra charge. Bicycle carriers are provided on every MetroBus in St. Louis City and County and MetroLink trains have designated cars for bicycles.

Along the entire 77-mile network, customized destination signage has been installed to help bicyclists anticipate distances to approaching mass transit stations, business districts and recreational amenities. In addition, federal transportation funding from the East-West Gateway Council of Governments has been used to initiate a bicycle public awareness campaign featuring a series of posters that have been installed at MetroBus and MetroLink stops. Posters not only promote the health and environmental benefits of bicycling, they also support the “rules of the road” with bicycles and vehicles sharing the road.

More than 30,000 Bike St. Louis maps of the entire route system, as well as important safety and resource information, have been printed and distributed to locations throughout the St. Louis region for residents and visitors.

Expansion of the River Ring and Bike St. Louis

In St. Louis City, St. Louis County and St. Charles County more than150 miles of trails and on-street bicycle lanes have been completed and expansion of The River Ring continues. In 2008, the Great Rivers Greenway District is constructing approximately 20 miles of trails and future expansion of the Bike St. Louis network is on-going.

With a mission dedicated to building a regional system of greenways, parks and trails, the Great Rivers Greenway District is working with a variety of public, private and non-profit organizations to complete more miles of trails and on-street routes.

“Providing smart and simple transportation options for residents while educating the region on the many benefits of leaving your car at home will be critical as we work with our partners to develop more trails and on-street routes and attract more users,” says David Fisher, Executive Director of Great Rivers Greenway District.

About The Great Rivers Greenway District:
The Great Rivers Greenway District is the public organization leading the development of a region-wide system of interconnected greenways, parks and trails, known as the River Ring. The River Ring will join two states and cover an area of 1,216 square miles. The Greenway District was established in November 2000 by the successful passage of the Clean Water, Safe Parks and Community Trails Initiative (Proposition C) in St. Louis City, St. Louis County and St. Charles County, Missouri. For more information about Great Rivers Greenway District, visit

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