Posted by Dorian Grilley on February 17, 2012 at 5:08 pm
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