As you have no doubt read about on this and other blogs, Monday was the First Annual Minnesota Bicycle Summit, and wow, that was a packed day. We aren’t going to try to recap everything that happened but if you are looking for a comprehensive review of the sessions check out the post over on Ride Boldly! which leaves no stone unturned.
Here were the highlights for us:
Minneapolis Mayor R. T. Rybak – Anyone who has heard Mayor Rybak speak about bicycles in the past, knows that he is passionate and committed to making cycling a viable option in Minneapolis. We have to award him the quote of the day, when talking about staying the #1 Bike City in the U.S. he said “Portland is just an avenue in Minneapolis.” He also spoke about the importance of seeing communities by the speed of bike, not the speed of cars. This is something that every cyclist knows well, you are truly able to see what a neighborhood is all about when you bike through it.
Nick Mason (Bike MN) – Nick was a man armed with statistics, impressive statistics at that. Seeing his presentation really helped many of us in the audience nail down concrete talking points, about how bikes = business. We will see if we can get our hands on a copy of the powerpoint that Nick used, because there is a lot of good information about how much the cycling industry is worth to Minnesota.
Gary Sjoquist (Bikes Belong Advocate) – Gary is focused mainly on the National lobbying scene and brought up a very interesting point about the current climate in Washington. He noted that many of the new congressmen and women are from a decidedly more rural background, which does not bode well for cyclists. In fact we have already seen some pretty direct overtures from the new congress re: their thoughts on transportation. Transportation = cars only. Yikes. We are glad people like Gary exist to fight for our cycling rights.
Barb Thoman, (Transit for Livable Communities) – It was exciting to be in the audience and hear the live announcement of three new projects (already funded) including new bike lanes in Fridley, improvements to Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis, and an additional $1 Million to Nice Ride for expansion around Minneapolis and into Saint Paul this year. People seem very excited about these projects, I even hear a few people gasp for joy when they heard the Nice Ride expansion into Saint Paul, but we are going to wait for some more information before we go head-over-heels about Franklin Avenue. We thought that we heard that new bike lanes were going in, but at this point we don’t have anything to point to confirming this fact. In fact a MinnPost article on the topic curiously doesn’t mention anything about bike lanes. We do know that new curb bump-outs, sidewalk improvements and countdown timers are coming to the Ave, and with only $62,000 that doesn’t leave much for painted lanes. We will keep you posted as we learn more.
Mississippi River Trail (MRT) – We have been on the Mississippi River Trail, so we know how abysmal it is in the state of Minnesota. Missing or incorrect signage (where it actually exists) and a lack of a coherent next ranks our state near the bottom for what is supposed to be an interconnect state Bikeway. All that will change if BikeMN has their way and the State legislators are successfully lobbied for the money necessary to make the MRT in Minnesota the first Bikeway, we’re all for it!
Those of you who attended (over 175 at last count), what were your highlights?