2012 MN Bike Summit – Advocating for bikes
The annual MN Bike Summit, organized by the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota (BikeMN), wrapped up last Monday on a day filled with excitement, sunshine and temperatures at least thirty degrees warmer than the prior year. A combination of bus (note to self: avoid taking the bus west of Hamline on University Ave) and bike got me to the morning session held at Christ Lutheran Church, a nice location just a short walk away from the Capitol. A hundred or so bike advocates from around the state gathered to listen about legislative updates and priorities, to hear how to present the message to our elected officials and to find out about new developments in the cycling community.
A new format was introduced this year, with meeting registrants being pre-sorted into groups based on their district and your legislative meeting already scheduled. I thought this was a good way of ensuring that a critical mass of people would get face time with their legislators and also to make sure that multiple meetings for the same official had not been scheduled. The only downside for me was that I missed a bit of the morning programming. (Recap)
The upcoming legislative priorities were:
– Funding Safe Routes to School with bonding dollars
– Establishing a state funded program would help increase the number of communities receiving funding as demand is quite a bit higher than the current Federal supply of funding
– Authorization of the Mississippi River Trail as a state bikeway
– This would only require minor infrastructure improvements and signage to be completed. You can find a few of the signs throughout the Metro area.
– Pass Vulnerable road user legislation
– This would introduce a penalty (gross misdemeanor) between misdemeanor and felony for injuring or killing a vulnerable road user (this definition includes cyclists, pedestrians, etc.). The purpose is to increase awareness of non-motorized road users and decrease incidents of distracted driving.
Find more information here. You can still contact your legislator to lobby for support on any of these issues.
Two non-legislative announcements that I found most interesting about were the introduction of the MN High School Cycling League (mentioned here previously) and the new ad campaign, “Pedal Minnesota – The Bike Friendly State” (which I believe will be pedalmn.com). The campaign is a joint effort between Explore Minnesota (tourism) and Colle+McVoy to both showcase cycling in Minnesota to increase cycling tourism and also to try and reach out to the ~60% of individuals that are ‘interested, but concerned’ about cycling in-state.
Following the morning program, we gathered in the Rotunda in the Capitol for a short afternoon session that had displays from several bike shops and organizations as well as short speeches from legislators from both sides of the aisle, demonstrating that cycling is a ‘bike’-partisan issue.
More local coverage here.