Baxter looks at options for safer pedestrian, bicycle use

BAXTER--What could the future bicycling and pedestrian options look like in Baxter? Along with thinking more about how residents and visitors access and move around the city, the study looked at ways to make alternatives to vehicles a safer and t...


BAXTER-What could the future bicycling and pedestrian options look like in Baxter?

Along with thinking more about how residents and visitors access and move around the city, the study looked at ways to make alternatives to vehicles a safer and thus more appealing choice.

Shaun Murphy-Lopez, transportation planner with Toole Design, presented a detailed look at how biking and walking options should be expanded around Baxter before the city council's June 4 work session.

Lines on maps, showing where existing trails are set and where trails are planned, crisscrossed the city. A focus group was asked to look at bike facilities and give their reaction. They were given photos of how streets could incorporate trails, whether on the street or on a separated path. They looked at streets with high traffic volumes and quieter residential neighborhoods. Their approval or lack thereof was presented to the council with a thumbs up or down or sideways.

Murphy-Lopez said painted bike lanes on the street received a sideways thumb as did use of shoulder lanes on non-busy roads. A general share the road marking on the street to remind drivers of others and use of shoulders on busy roads both got a thumbs down. Buffered bike lanes were positively received. In some cases the buffer came from a more robust painted separation on street with lighter traffic.


When asked for positive experiences walking or biking at intersections, some focus group members pointed to the pedestrian beacon at Excelsior Road/Conservation Drive and on Isle Drive near Essentia Health, and the Paul Bunyan Trail Bridge over Excelsior Road.

A look at the host of either existing or planned trails creates veins of potential pedestrian and bike options across the city and the region, including the Veterans State Trail network out of Camp Ripley, the already established Paul Bunyan State Trail, and efforts to expand bicycling options in Brainerd and on to the Cuyuna Lakes area. Murphy-Lopez also noted work on the Minnesota Department of Transportation's District 3 Bicycle Plan, which was adopted within the last six months, as being part of this trend.

Murphy-Lopez said the focus groups also marked maps to indicate missing connections. The Highway 371 strip was one of the more heavily marked in this exercise.

Highway 371/Woida Road

Short term plans were proposed for intersection improvements, including modifying turn lanes at the Edgewood Drive and Woida Road intersection and developing left and right turn lanes.

Other short term options included:

• Adding a "Watch for Pedestrians" sign at the Woida and Highway 371 intersection,

• Paint wide stop bars on the roadway at all intersection approaches,


• Add bike trail push buttons along the trail to make it easier for bicyclists to activate the signal timing,

• Construct a trail on Woida Road's north side,

• Consider enhanced intersection and corridor lighting to improve visibility.

Long-term plans included:

• Creating additional space for bikes and pedestrians to wait for the signal light crossing,

• If a sidewalk or trail ends up along the west side of Edgewood Drive or on Dellwood's east side, provide a designated pedestrian crossing with a refuge island,

• Consider a trail segment on Woida Road's south side to connect Edgewood and Dellwood drives, the two service drives parallel to Highway 371.

Short term goals for Woida Road could be $520,000. Long term goals (which include the costs listed for the short term goals) could be $740,000.


Highway 371/Excelsior Road

Recommendations for short term goals included:

• A protected left turn lane for drivers on Excelsior Road, which was reported to eliminate the danger a driver will misjudge the gap in road and sidewalk traffic and will turn instead with the green arrow.

• Add a "Watch for Pedestrian" sign at the intersection.

• Add stop bars to the intersection approaches and blocking for pedestrian crossings.

• Add bike buttons along the trail to trigger the signal light.

• Provide a designated crossing to transition from planned on-street bike lanes on Excelsior to an off-street multi-use trail on Excelsior's south side.

Long term goals include:


• Modify intersection to reduce turning speed,

• Consider a trail segment on Excelsior Road's north side to connect the Dellwood Drive sidewalk/trail, when and if that is completed, to Highway 371.

Costs to improve Excelsior Road could be $120,000 for the short term goals while those long term goals (which include the short term costs) would be $180,000 on Excelsior Road.

Renee Richardson is managing editor at the Brainerd Dispatch. She joined the Brainerd Dispatch in 1996 after earning her bachelor's degree in mass communications at St. Cloud State University.
Renee Richardson can be reached at or by calling 218-855-5852 or follow her on Twitter @dispatchbizbuzz or Facebook.
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