So I found myself poking around the InterWebs thanks to the great distraction that is Facebook and stumbled across these bicycle-related infographics.
So I found myself poking around the InterWebs thanks to the great distraction that is Facebook and stumbled across these bicycle-related infographics.
The 2012 Minnesota Bike Summit on Capitol Hill is just two weeks away! The Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota (BikeMN) needs bicycle advocates from throughout the state, including Minneapolis, to attend this important event on March 5 in Saint Paul. Your presence, and that of bicycling enthusiasts from throughout Minnesota, is necessary to educate our legislative leaders about BikeMN’s 2012 Legislative Agenda. Be a part of history by being there to show your support for the authorization of Minnesota’s first state bikeway, creating the first state funded Safe Routes to School grant program in the nation, and passing important bike safety legislation.
The Summit will also include some great speakers to inspire you and arm you with the knowledge needed to talk to your elected officials about the positive effect bicycling has in our state. The morning session will be kicked off by Jay Walljasper with a presentation entitled The Great Minnesota Bike Success Story: How to Keep it Rolling. We will close the morning session with Christine Fruechte, CEO of the award winning ad firm of Colle + McVoy. Christine will talk about being a Bicycle Friendly Business and the creative and production work they are doing to develop the upcoming, really cool, PedalMN – the bike friendly state media campaign. John Edman, director of Explore Minnesota Tourism, will introduce Christine and the partners that will make the campaign happen.
Minnesota’s first state bikeway will be the Mississippi River Trail (MRT). A signed, mostly on bike friendly road route, from Itasca, through Minneapolis, to the Iowa border and some day on to the Gulf of Mexico. It would become part of the U.S. Bicycle Route System and, if all goes as planned, be the start of a signed network of bike friendly roads that eventually covers the state.
The 2012 Minnesota legislative session may also make history by creating the first state funded Safe Routes to School grant program in the nation. The proposal would allocate $3 million to the grant program and expand the eligibility, from the federal program’s focus on elementary schools, to all schools. And, perhaps most importantly, it will send a strong bi-partisan message (yes there are lots of Republicans and Democrats that have signed on to the bill) that the Minnesota Legislature thinks encouraging and facilitating more bicycling and walking is part of the solution to some of our society’s big problems.
BikeMN will also be involved in other bicycling policy issues this year. Although, it is hard to say which ones will get traction given the fact that the focus of the legislative sessions in the even numbered years is the capital investment/bonding bill. BikeMN’s top policy priority is a bill that would create a class of vulnerable road users and increase the penalties for killing or injuring one when committing another driving offense. BikeMN will also be working on bills that would make it legal for bicyclists to use studded tires and for low speed/low power electric-assisted bicycles to be ridden on trails and on streets without having to follow the motorcycle lighting and equipment and lighting requirements. It would also allow trail and road authorities to ban electric-assisted bicycles if they create a conflict with other users.
BikeMN wants to make bicycling in Minnesota a safe, easy, fun, and cool choice for everyone so that more people bicycle more often. To be successful in this endeavor, we need you to get involved. Let your local and state officials know how important bicycling is to you, your business, and your community by attending the 2012 Bike Summit. And help us spread the word! Please let all of your bicycling friends know about BikeMN and encourage them to attend the Summit as well.
Together we will do great things for bicycling in Minnesota!
BE THERE FOR BIKES!
Dorian Grilley, Executive Director, Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota
This just hit our inbox from Bike MN!
Dear Members and Friends of BikeMN,
We are sending this urgent message to you because you are a supporter of bicycling in Minnesota.
It’s happening again. Just one month ago, Sen. Coburn (R-OK) failed in his efforts to strip funding for Transportation Enhancements from the six-month transportation extension.
Now, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is taking the lead in trying to destroy Transportation Enhancements. On November 1, the Senate will finalize the transportation appropriations bill, which sets funding levels for FY2012. Sen. Paul has offered an amendment to redirect all funding for Transportation Enhancements to bridge repair.
We agree on the need to keep our bridges safe, especially in Minnesota. But the lives of pedestrians and cyclists are important too. Thirteen people died when the Minneapolis bridge collapsed in 2007. In 2009 alone, close to 42 pedestrians and 10 bicyclists were killed in crashes with motor vehicles on Minnesota roads, often as a result of poor highway design and a lack of safe non-motorized infrastructure; exactly what the enhancement program was created to fix.
In fact, dozens of vital Minnesota bicycle and pedestrian projects from the Blazing Star Trail in Albert Lea to the Goodhue Pioneer Trail in Zumbrota have been funded out of Transportation Enhancements.
If Sen. Paul’s amendment is successful, it would eliminate approximately $700 million in federal funding for FY2012 that is used to construct sidewalks, bike lanes, bike paths, trails and other infrastructure making it safe for bicyclists and pedestrians to get around. Even if every penny of these funds is diverted to bridge repairs, Senator Paul’s plan will still take 80 years to fix the backlog of bridge repairs we have today by which time all those repaired bridges would be falling down again.
Remember that the TE program represents less than two percent of the federal transportation program and these projects help alleviate traffic congestion, improve safety, get people active, and create more jobs per dollar than highway-only projects.
Remember also that last year, states sent back to Washington $530 million of unspent bridge funds in rescissions. The states are leaving bridge repair funds on the table, unspent, year after year. They should at least spend these funds first.
If the Paul amendment succeeds, it will make it much more challenging to sustain funding for Transportation Enhancements, Safe Routes to School, and Recreational Trails in the long-term transportation bill that the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee starts debating on November 9.
We must turn back any amendment to strip Transportation Enhancements.
Last month, more than 75,000 messages were sent nationally to Senators to ask them to stand strong for Transportation Enhancements. Thank you, that was an amazing turnout, but we must do better this time. Every time someone in Congress attacks bicycling and walking, we must push back even stronger than we did the time before. And, we will keep doing it until bicycle and pedestrian funding is protected.
This is the third time in a month that a small group of Senators has targeted Transportation Enhancements, using a different angle each time. It is a waste of the Senate’s time and taxpayer dollars to focus on this small and valuable program when we are in dire need of real and viable solutions to fix our failing transportation system.
Please contact Senators Klobuchar and Frankin today to ask them to vote against the Paul amendment (SA-821) to eliminate Transportation Enhancements. And then please forward this message to your family, friends, neighbors and colleagues with a link to the League of American Bicyclists Action Center. Below you’ll find a sample letter you can customize to send to your Senators, as well.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at dorian [at] bikemn.org or 651-387-2445.
Thank you for your help today, and for passing along the call to action.
Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota
—–SAMPLE LETTER TO SENATORS—–
Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has offered an amendment to the 2012 Transportation Appropriations bill that would eliminate all Transportation Enhancement (TE) program funds and re-direct them to pay for bridge repairs. I urge you to reject this proposal, to put an end to the repeated failed attacks on this popular and effective program, and to quit wasting time on a small and valuable program that won’t solve the bridge issue.
Senator Paul’s amendment will not make a difference for bridges. Even if every penny of the TE program is diverted to bridge repair, it would take 80 years of funding to fix today’s backlog of bridge repairs. Meanwhile, the death toll of pedestrians and bicyclists left to fend for themselves on roads and bridges that fail to accommodate them safely would likely continue at more than 50 lives a year.
I agree that bridges, like transit, bikeways and walkways, have been chronically underfunded for years because state Departments of Transportation are spending too many of our transportation dollars on ever-more expensive and ineffective highway expansion projects that we can’t afford to maintain. The choice is not between bridges, transit and bikeways, all of which are vital for the safety and health of our economy and our communities. The real choice is between fixing and improving what we already have versus continued unsustainable highway expansion projects.
Investing in better and safer conditions for bicyclists and pedestrians in Minnesota is not the reason our nation’s bridges are in a poor state of repair. States returned more than $530 million of unspent bridge money in last year’s rescission of funds. The entire TE program is less than two-tenths of one percent of the Federal budget and is barely 1.5% of the entire Federal transportation budget. It would take more than 80 years of TE funding to fix the current backlog of repairs.
On November 9, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will begin discussion of the next transportation bill. THAT is the appropriate time to discuss changes to the overall transportation program, not during the appropriations process. Congress has repeatedly rejected this approach and I urge you to reject this latest attack on the TE program.
Everybody knows that Minneapolis is among the top bicycling cities in the country. And for us at MPLS Bike Love, that also includes our sister city of Saint Paul. Anybody that lives in the Twin Cities should appreciate they dynamic relationship between them – even if they never cross the Mississippi river.
But for those that need further convincing, our friend from Bike Walk Twin Cities and Bike Walk Move sent us this amazing infographic. When it comes to cycling (and walking), the Twin Cities is top of the heap!
As a number of you may have heard, Federal legislation is underway that could eliminate ALL dedicated funding for bicycling and walking projects in the US! This threat is serious and could jeopardize the future of the Minneapolis bike program and newly adopted bicycle master plan.
Most funding for bicycle projects at the Federal level comes through the Transportation Enhancements Program. This program began under the leadership of former Congressman James Oberstar in the landmark ISTEA (Intermodal Surface Transportation Equity Act) bill of 1991. Since ISTEA, Minneapolis has been able to construct one of the most bicycle friendly cities in America. Some of the key pieces of infrastructure that have got us there include the Stone Arch Bridge, Kenilworth projects, the River Lake Greenway, Midtown Freewheel Bike Center, and the Cedar Lake Trail. These (and numerous others) were all funded in part with Transportation Enhancement dollars that are now poised to go away.
Two other key programs, Safe Routes to School and Recreational Trails also look to be on the chopping block. And, one of Minneapolis’ most innovative programs, the $25 million Non-motorized Transportation Pilot (NTP) program, is likely to disappear as well. Without NTP, Minneapolis would not have Nice Ride, the Bike Walk Ambassadors, and the more than 20 miles of bikeway facilities being installed this year alone!
What can you do? Contact your members of Congress! Fortunately, Rep Keith Ellison and Senators Klobuchar and Franken support bicycling. But, they need to hear from you, and they need your support and voice during this critical time.
Over the past few months, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know Matt Tennant, Director of Full Cycle bike shop – a program of Pillsbury House. Matt has made a career out of helping kids get off the streets and connected to programs that can help them turn their lives around. And the best way to make these connections is to gain the trust of those kids in the first place – something Matt excels at.
Early in his career, Matt did street based outreach, spending his nights scouring the streets of Minneapolis and distributing basic necessities to homeless kids. Whether it was a pair of socks, a tooth brush, a bottle of water, or even just a band-aid, Matt carried a green messenger bag with him stocked full of stuff. And if he couldn’t carry it, he had information about other programs and services available to them.
At the same time, Matt was also working the night shift at an area youth shelter. The late shift gave him plenty of time to wrench on his bike when everybody else was supposed to be sleeping; but invariably, some kids couldn’t (or didn’t want to) sleep. So he’d invite them to sit, chat, and work on his bike – giving him the opportunity to befriend these kids, build a rapport, and gain their trust.
Little by little, instead of just wrenching on his own bike, Matt started bringing parts to the house and assembling bikes for the kids at the shelter to use. It was a small gesture, especially not knowing whether or not the bikes would be returned, but it was rewarded. The bikes always came back and were revered by those using them and so he knew he was on to something.
As time went on, Matt attracted more and more kids. Each new bike request presented the opportunity to help one more kid get a foothold on moving forward; however, the shelter basement was filling up with bikes and parts that needed a home of their own. So Matt got permission to build a shed out back and set up shop there. Then, in 2004, the Minneapolis transit strike happened and Matt’s phone began ringing off the hook. The youth Matt was helping relied on the bus system to get around. Without it, they couldn’t get to their jobs. If they didn’t show up, they’d lose their jobs. And for many of them, that meant a one-way ticket back to the streets.
At about the same time, another agency was looking for somebody to help them with their own youth outreach programs. So Matt struck while the iron was hot and set out to establish Full Cycle – a program designed to help homeless youth get off the streets, teach them accountability, raise their confidence, and help them make the transition into becoming productive members of society. But after a few years, Matt’s vision for the program differed from the host agency, so Matt approached Pillsbury House to see if they’d be interested in supporting the program. Pillbury House jumped at the chance – so long as Matt could keep it funded – and gave Full Cycle some space in their current location at 35th and Chicago. Originally, they shared the space with a group of motor heads doing something similar with cars. But after that program floundered, the available space was offered to Full Cycle for their use.
In less than 10 years, Matt had gone from working on bikes in the wee hours of the morning to operating what was quickly becoming a legitimate bike shop. Matt’s next challenge was figuring out how to supporting its rapid growth; but good begets good, and help rode in on 2 wheels shortly thereafter. Quality Bike Products (QBP) stepped up, listened to Matt’s story, and quickly got behind Full Cycle.
Today, Full Cycle is a full-fledged used bike shop in South Minneapolis where Public Enemy videos play in the background, Powerpuff Girl murals decorate the walls, and kids in need are given the opportunity to succeed. The furniture is second hand, but the shop is first rate. And the man behind it, modest as he may be, is a modern day hero – at least in our book.
Full Cycle’s mission is to connect with and support homeless youth, our community, and our Earth through bikes, business, and relationships.
For more information about what Full Cycle means to the people it helps, check out this amazing video by Kohler Productions:
It’s been a few weeks since the Open Streets MPLS ciclovia and we’re already thinking about next year’s event. Why are we thinking about it? Next year, we hope to help make Open Streets MPLS even better.
The inaugural 2011 event was great. The morning weather seemed a bit questionable, begging us to bring rain jackets with us – just in case. But once we arrived, we experienced 20 blocks of people on bikes, parents pushing strollers, visitors stepping into local shops and restaurants, and yoga class in the middle one Minneapolis’ busiest intersections. After riding up and down Lyndale a few times with my sister, we parked at The Herkimer for Bloody Marys. From this curbside oasis we watched Mayor Rybak test his cycling prowess at Nice Ride’s slow bike races. We also saw every kind of bike – including a penny-farthing and some sort of recumbent caterpillar. We ran into friends up and down the avenue and left with smiles on our faces.
As we rode home and rehashed all the fun, we also discussed what could have made it even better. Personally, I was a bit disappointed that even though Lyndale was closed, cross traffic was permitted at every intersection. It also seemed odd that vendor booths weren’t more prominent and that several brick and mortar businesses weren’t open.
But I digress. The point of this article isn’t to rehash something that happened weeks ago. The point is that we’re meeting with the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition in mid-July to discuss how MPLS Bike Love might be involved next year and to offer suggestions for what would make 2012 even better. And so we’d like your opinions.
Please tell us what you liked, what you didn’t like, and offer suggestions for what you might like to see next year.
What do you think? Inquiring minds want to know.
April snowstorms bring May … Bikes! Well, spring is finally here and with it National Bike Month. Despite our harsh spring, 30 Days of Biking survivors can sit back in the saddle and enjoy the remainder of May, when most cyclists around the country are pumping up their tires. Also, this May there are some reasons to celebrate success in Minneapolis and around the state.
Minneapolis was recently recognized with a “Gold” Bicycle Friendly Community designation from the League of American Bicyclists, which is a step up from the the Silver award in 2008. A number of people have asked BikeMN what this means. At it’s core, it means that “bikes mean business” here. As Steve Brandt’s article pointed out, it doesn’t mean that Minneapolis is perfect—but it is one of a handful of cities around the country doing things right for bikes and showing measurable progress as it goes. Did you know that bicycles in downtown Minneapolis have increased 174% between 2003 and 2008? Or that with over 100,000 trips in it’s first 4 months, Nice Ride MN became the premier bike share program in the US. Of course, you probably did know that Minneapolis is home to some of the most unique and fun events in the country from Babes in Bikeland and Stupor Bowl to the Nature Valley Grand Prix and Tour de Fat. Minneapolis also has some of the best education programs around thanks to the Bike Walk Ambassador program and local League Cycling Instructors. All of this adds up to a healthier population (less health care costs), more bike industry (jobs, baby!), and attractive places to recruit people work and visit. So, the next time some one tells you, “the city can’t afford to subsidize bikes,” let them know that Bikes Mean Business, really!
The icing on the cake for the city and state are that the communities of Apple Valley, Greater Mankato, and Rosemount are following suit and have received Honorable Mentions for being bike friendly. And just yesterday, Minnesota received one of only FOUR Silver Bicycle Friendly State awards in the nation, and retained it’s #4 in the nation … too bad Oregon slipped to #8.
In Legislative News (or, Now the Bad News)
The Minnesota Legislature adjourned on the night of Monday the 24th without passing any of the BikeMN priorities. All of the issues BikeMN was working on did get discussed and all but the Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) were introduced in bill form. But, the larger issues surrounding the two year budget and some larger policy issues kept them from passing.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment, where we had the highest hopes for the start of something big, was that the authorization of the Mississippi River Trail as Minnesota’s first state bikeway did not pass. It was part of Mn/DOT’s housekeeping policy bill but there were some big issues the Governor and legislative leaders could not agree on so it did not pass and is unlikely to be addressed in a special session. The bill that changed the definition of an electric-assisted bicycle from a motorized vehicle to a bicycle was also part of the ill-fated policy bill.
Another major disappointment, but not as unexpected, was the tabling of the bills that would increase the penalty for careless driving resulting in a fatality from a misdemeanor to a gross misdemeanor. Some Republican leaders and bill authors could not agree on this bill, much less garner bipartisan support. The bright side is that this will give BikeMN time to build a stronger coalition and perhaps expand the legislation to include some of the vulnerable user language and penalties that have been passed in other states.
State funding to expand the already federally funded Safe Routes to School grant program will have to wait too. This was introduced in both the House and Senate as a $3 million bonding appropriation. But, as expected, legislative leaders did not pass a bonding package that would have funded infrastructure and other capital improvements.
SHIP was also part of the budget debate. The Governor had included it in his original proposal to the Legislature. But, it was not included in any of the health and human services funding bills sent to the Governor. There is an outside chance that it will be part of the final deal that will be worked out before the Governor calls a special session.
The final bit of good news is that there were no changes to the Complete Streets legislation that passed a year ago.
Mpls Bike Lovers: BikeMN wants YOU!
As a member-based non-profit, BikeMN counts on our members for financial support. We are your leader in bike education for kids and adults, advocates for your rights at the State Capitol, and host of some of MN’s biggest bike events. BikeMN also assists communities, businesses, and universities in becoming more bicycle friendly. Join by the end of Bike Month and get $10 off any membership. Enter Promo code: MBL511
Bike Walk Week happens twice a year and its goal is simple – to get people out of their cars and use alternate forms of transportation for at least 1 trip during the week. This spring, Bike Walk Week Twin Cities takes place from June 4-12.
NOTE: For specific details, the Bike Walk Week website has great information about daily events, resources for getting ready to participate, online registration (which is FREE), and more.
Alicia Adams is the Program Outreach Coordinator for Bike Walk Week Twin Cities. She’s awesome, as is her co-worker Amber Collett. After meeting with them, I left with the impression that the BWW organization is a very friendly bunch pushing a positive agenda – one less car!
The event itself started as a single Bike Walk Day in 2007 by a consortium of groups and individuals (much like today). However, it quickly grew from there. In 2008 it became a weeklong event, followed by a twice-annual event the following year. This year, the fall Bike Walk Week will take place the first week in October to coincide with International Bike Walk to School Day.
Even though there is now a full week of events, Bike Walk Day (the day itself) still exists and takes place on Thursday of Bike Walk Week. This year, Bike Walk Day is June 9 and will include festivities in Bloomington, downtown Minneapolis, and downtown Saint Paul.
FUN FACT: Bike Walk Day is officially recognized by the State of Minnesota, in addition to being sanctioned by the cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul.
Last year Bike Walk Week registered 7,000 participants. This year they’re their goal is 10,000 registered participants – a very noble number for the land of 10,000 lakes. And encouraged by the popularity of similar events, such as 30 Days of Biking, they seem very optimistic about increasing their participation by 30%.
In spite of their growth, the agenda is remains the same. And so, for all the Twin Cities cyclists out there that would like to see fewer cars on the road, I encourage you to register, participate, and tell your friends.
The bill that would increase Careless and Reckless Driving penalties is still alive in the Minnesota Senate. It will be heard for a second time in the Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety Tuesday April 12, 2011 at 1:00 in Room 15 of the State Capitol.
Running a stop sign and killing a bicyclist, or anyone else, should be more than a slap on the wrist! Right now, the Careless and Reckless Driving laws carry a penalty of a misdemeanor even if someone is severely injured or killed. BikeMN thinks this is grossly under penalized compared with other serious driving offenses. A misdemeanor carries with it a maximum penalty of a $1,000 fine and up to 90 days in jail. Currently, there is no penalty between a Careless Driving misdemeanor and Criminal Vehicular Homicide which is a felony and requires that you prove intent. House File 68 and Senate File 201 (which also includes reckless driving) would increase the penalty for causing a death while committing a careless or reckless driving offense to a gross misdemeanor. That would increase the penalty to a maximum $3,000 fine and up to one year in jail.
BikeMN supports these bills and would like to see causing great bodily harm (e.g., broken bones) and substantial bodily harm (e.g., permanent impairment) also become a gross misdemeanor. Unfortunately, there is significant opposition to these bills. It seems that the trucking organizations and others oppose it and the potential of locking up a couple more people for a few more months is too expensive. So, if we want to see this become law we’ll have to do some serious grass roots organizing statewide and partnering with other organizations, like motorcyclists, that care. Stay tuned. We won’t let this fall by the wayside but we’ll need your help. Please watch the BikeMN facebook page for updates.
Guest writer Dorian Grilley is the Executive Director of the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota. He will be testifying in an upcoming trial as the victim of a careless driver, having sustained serious bodily injury as a result of an accident in 2010.