I got an email last Friday from Dorian Grilley, Executive Director of Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota (BikeMN), and at the bottom of the email he attached a photo of him standing with his new mountain bike. He said that his experience on the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Trail System at PedalMN Bicycle Summit this fall won him over. (See my blog post about the Summit: Minnesota is a state that works for mountain bikers).
Northfield City Administrator and Faribault resident Tim Madigan alerted me to a Bikeable Community Workshop hosted by the Faribault Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism last week. I contacted Kymn Anderson, Chamber President, to see if there was room for any Northfielders and she graciously allowed me to attend. Northfield City Councilor Suzie Nakasian was there, too.
The Bikeable Community Workshop brochure (PDF) states:
A Bikeable Community Workshop trains local, county and regional staff, and advocates on how to plan and support more Bike Friendly Communities to encourage more people on bikes more often in Minnesota. Participants enjoy a short bike ride to assess their community’s bicycle facilities to base an action plan on. Target audiences include engineers, law enforcement, planners, public health practitioners, school administrators, elected officials, and advocates. The course includes a short bicycle ride auditing your community.
The workshop was presented by staff from the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota, the Minnesota Department of Health, and the Minnesota Department of Transportation. These folks knew their stuff and presented it well.
My take-away? We need to begin working immediately with the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota to form a Northfield area bicycle advisory committee so we can begin tackling a myriad of bike-related issues. The City of Minneapolis’ Bicycle Advisory Committee page spells much of it out:
Advise the Mayor, City Council, and Park Board on bicycling related issues; help advance the state of bicycle infrastructure; encourage more people to bike; educate the public; work towards more compliance with traffic laws; help the City and Park Board make bicycle plans; work to increase equity between bicyclist and other modes of transportation; review and suggest legislative and policy changes; recommend priorities for the use of public funds on bicycle projects; help ensure Minneapolis keeps and improves its status as a bicycle friendly community; serve as a liaison between Mpls communities and the City and Park Board, coordinate between difference agencies that interact with bicyclists.
Props to Kymn Anderson at the Faribault Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism and the Faribault area bicycle advocates for hosting the session. It was inspiring.
In late Feb, I attended the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota‘s (BikeMN) third annual Minnesota Bicycle Summit on Capitol Hill, noting that I was "trying to get smarter about the state of bike advocacy in Minnesota…" (Blog post here.)
A few weeks later, for the same reason, I attended the Parks and Trails Council of Minnesota’s Day on the Hill which led to having lunch here in Northfield with Executive Director Brett Feldman and Northfield’s First Ward Councilor Suzie Nakasian in which we explored the pros and cons of forming a Northfield area regional bicycle council. (Blog post here.) Brett encouraged us to get in touch with BikeMN’s Executive Director Dorian Grilley.
During the meeting, my eyes widened as we heard details from BikeMN staff and board members about the myriad of bike-related activities, projects, collaborations that they’re involved in. (See the Education and Advocacy pages on their website for a glimpse.)
Dorian is well-connected and versed in national bicycle advocacy issues so I was pleased to hear some of the latest news, including the repercussions from Trek CEO John Burke’s speech last fall at Interbike (my blog post here).
Afterwards, I did have a chance to talk with Dorian, as well as with Nick Mason, BikeMN’s Education & Technical Assistance Program Manager. Both offered their help to get things rolling in Northfield with a start-up of a local bicycle advocacy group and hopefully, one or more of their Bicycle Friendly Programs. (March blog post: Bemidji has earned ‘Bicycle Friendly Community’ status. Why not Northfield?)
And as I wrote back in March:
There are other [Northfield area] projects and developments that have a bicycle-component: the Northfield Depot; the East Cannon River Trail segment; the TIGER Trail (aka the Northfield Modal integration project); Safe Routes to School; the Gateway Corridor Improvement Plan; Northfield Roundtable’s Framework Plan; and the Cannon River Corridor recreational concept.
I also put on my mountain biking hat (helmet?) and with MORC Board members Reed Smidt and Mark Gavin, chatted with Dorian about how BikeMN and MORC could work more closely together. One idea: give communities with mountain bike trails and pump/jump/BMX parks extra credit when they apply for Bicycle Friendly Community status.
Click and scroll through the photos either one at a time or via a slideshow. (Memo to self: use a flash when taking photos with my smartphone of people indoors.)
I attended the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota‘s (BikeMN) third annual Minnesota Bicycle Summit on Capitol Hill yesterday, as I’m trying to get smarter about the state of bike advocacy in Minnesota and who the players are. I became a BikeMN member a couple weeks ago and am impressed with all that they’re doing and how well-organized yesterday’s Summit was.
Bemidji Mayor Rita Albrecht (@BemidjiRita) was one of the featured speakers, talking about Bemidji’s new designation as a Bike Friendly Community. I’ve crossed paths with Rita recently in my consulting work so I was pleased to introduce her to two of my Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Crew (CLMTBC) pals, John Schaubach and Jenny Smith.
I was also pleased to get a photo of former 8th District Congressman Jim Oberstar with Jenny and John as they were preparing to head over to the Capitol Rotunda for his keynote. When Oberstar was chair of the U.S. House transportation committee, he helped secure $700,000 in federal funds for the creation of the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Trails (CLMTBT). See this June 2011 article by Brett Larson in Silent Sports magazine, Cuyuna Lakes Reclaimed, for more on the role that Jim, John, Jenny and many others played. It’s a marvelous story of how the organic process of bike advocacy can work.
Other speakers at the Minnesota Bicycle Summit on Capitol Hill: