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Posts from the "Minneapolis" Category

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Minneapolis’s Midtown Greenway: Good for Bikes, Good for Business

In the increasingly heated competition to see who deserves the title of America’s most bike-friendly city, Minneapolis has plenty going for it. Last year Bicycling magazine anointed the city tops in the nation, knocking Portland off its long-held perch.

The Twin Cities are undergoing a steady transformation into a more bike-oriented region thanks to nearly 100 miles of greenways and off-street paths, giving residents safe and quick travel options. By far the best-known of those paths is the 5.7 mile long Midtown Greenway, which connects cyclists to destinations through the heart of Minneapolis, from east to west. As you’ll see, the path isn’t just giving people a great place to bike, walk, and run — it’s attracting development and new businesses as well.

Thanks to the Bikes Belong Foundation for funding this Streetfilm, our third in a series on innovations in Minneapolis. Check out the Nice Ride MN and Sabo Bridge Streetfilms if you haven’t already!

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From Minneapolis: Ten Street Design Solutions to Transform Your City

Minneapolis has dozens of miles of off-street facilities.

Only 11 cities in the U.S. have earned the title of Gold-Level Bicycle Friendly Community from the League of American Bicyclists. In May, Minneapolis joined the select ranks and, last week, the city got a chance to show off its bike progress to a national audience of active transportation advocates and officials.

When Mayor R.T. Rybak took the stage at the Safe Routes to School National Conference, he made it clear that Minneapolis is gunning for Portland, aiming to be the best biking city in the nation. Not surprisingly, many of the 600 attendees were eager to see the anatomy of a gold-level bicycle friendly city firsthand.

The city’s rise is thanks, in part, to the Non-Motorized Transportation Pilot Project, a program created by the last federal transportation bill that put $25 million in the coffers of four cities to increase bicycling through infrastructure improvements. To showcase the innovations spurred by those dollars, in Minneapolis, Shaun Murphy, the city’s non-motorized transportation coordinator, and Steve Clark, walking and bicycling program manager for Transit for Livable Communities, took Safe Routes participants on a bike tour of some of the completed and in-progress projects.

Drawing largely from Clark’s cheat sheet, here are the “10 Design Solutions that Can Transform your City.”

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SRTS Conference 2011: NYC Student Activist Inspires National Audience

Kimberly White

Only two speakers at this week’s Safe Routes to School National Conference in Minneapolis earned a standing ovation. For former Minnesota Congressman Jim Oberstar the crowd stood out of honor and gratitude. For Kimberly White, the audience shot out of their seats with sheer awe and inspiration.

A resident of Flatbush, Brooklyn, and a sophomore at Baruch College, White’s a recognizable face to some in New York City. She appeared on a Times Square billboard with a solar bicycle and organized the recent Youth Bike Summit, attended by several hundreds students from 14 states.

Addressing her first national audience during the closing plenary of the Safe Routes conference, White described her evolution from passively accepting injustices in her low-income neighborhood to discovering bicycling as a vehicle for environmental activism and personal transformation. Given the crowd of educators and officials, White didn’t shy away from one key point: Adults too often discount the intellect and ideas of youth.

Ranging from feminism to education, here are some of the highlights from White’s rousing keynote.

  • After moving from the island of St. Vincent, gentrification pushed White’s family from Park Slope to Flatbush — and into near abject poverty. “I questioned why, in my family and neighboring households, food scarcity was the rule and not the exception… I wondered if the lack of bike lanes was unique to my neighborhood or if there were issues surrounding this lack of infrastructure that could be attributed to something else. At the time I had many questions that I thought no one could answer and it drove me to action.”
  • At 16 years old, she discovered Recycle-A-Bicycle. “It seemed like such a weird place. Bicycles everywhere in sight — hanging from the ceiling, tiny parts in drawers, and rows and rows of bikes on the ground… I was so intrigued. You see, while I could appreciate what bikes meant for sustainable, alternative transportation, I had never actually learned to ride a bike.”
  • So White resolved to learn, but there was another obstacle — and opportunity. “I really wanted a bike but I couldn’t afford one… I coordinated an Earn-a-Bike internship with Recycle-A-Bicycle that enabled me and my friends to receive a bike as long as we put in the sweat equity and learned how to build the bicycle ourselves… Our instructor dumped us in a sea of about 1,000 bicycles and frames at the warehouse. It was fabulous to feel inundated by beautiful bicycle frames. When I saw the frame of my bicycle, I experienced true love for the first time.”
  • Read more…

StreetFilms 24 Comments

Breathtaking Bike Infrastructure: Minneapolis’s Martin Olav Sabo Bridge

In 2007, in order to route cyclists away from a challenging 7-lane crossing on busy Hiawatha Avenue, Minneapolis built the Martin Olav Sabo Bridge.

The first cable-stayed bridge of any kind in the state, it’s breathtaking, even to the people who have been riding it for years. It provides a safe, continuous crossing and offers up a glorious view of the downtown skyline (especially at sunset!). The sleek Hiawatha light rail line runs beneath it, and there are benches to sit on and take everything in.

Used by an average of 2,500 riders a day, peak use can hit 5,000 to 6,000 per day on some gorgeous summer weekends, according to Shaun Murphy of the Minneapolis Department of Public Works.

The bridge was named in honor of Minneapolis’ Martin Olav Sabo, a former U.S. Representative from the 5th District who helped secure much of the $5 million needed to build it. Thanks to the Bikes Belong Foundation for enabling us to feature this majestic piece of bike architecture and to show that investing is cycling and walking is well worth every penny for our communities.

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Nice Ride MN: Bike Share Expands in the Twin Cities

Nice Ride MN is a hit. The Twin Cities bike share recently celebrated its one year anniversary in June. And in July they started an expansion by adding more stations and bicycles to the network.

We talked with Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak about the decisions that went into getting Nice Ride MN off the ground:

You gotta go big or go home. You can’t put a few around. You’re hopping on that bike, it’s like a trapeze, you’re not gonna swing on that trapeze unless you know there’s another one to grab. You’re not gonna hop on that bike and cross town, unless you know there’s a place to go.

Thanks to the Bikes Belong Foundation we’re able to provide this short snapshot of the Nice Ride MN system, how it works, and where it’s headed.

StreetFilms 23 Comments

Major Bike Mojo in Minneapolis

In a surprising choice, the May edition of Bicycling Magazine named Minneapolis America’s best city for biking. The city still trails Portland, Oregon in the percentage of commuters who bike to work (4.3 percent to 5.9 percent, respectively, according to the most recent American Community Survey), but Minneapolis has been gaining momentum.

Next month, Minneapolis will launch the largest bike-share program in the country, building on a strong foundation of extensive bike trails and a thriving bicycling community.  They're also using federal funds to double the mileage of on-street bike lanes, build more road diets, introduce bicycle boulevards, and more. Have a look and see how Minneapolis has shot to the top of America's best bicycling cities.

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Sponsors Sold on Health, Economic Benefits of Minneapolis Bike-Share

Don't count out Boston just yet, but it looks like Minneapolis may be the first American city out of the gate with a public bicycle system of 1,000 bikes or more. Last week, the non-profit Nice Ride Minnesota selected the Public Bike System Company (the same firm behind Montreal's Bixi) to install its system, which is slated to feature 1,000 bicycles at about 75 stations when the first phase wraps up later this year.

nice_ride_kiosk.jpgThe first phase of Minneapolis's bike-share system will consist of about 1,000 bikes at 75 kiosks. Image: Nice Ride Minnesota.
Boston's bike-share will also launch this year with a fleet of about 1,000 bicycles, reports NPR's Andrea Bernstein. With Denver planning to get a 600-bike system up and running in April, and Washington, DC working out some kinks in the plan to expand its SmartBike pilot, 2010 is shaping up to be a momentous year for bike-share in American cities.

The multi-city horse race is fun to track, but Nice Ride director Bill Dossett downplayed the competition. "My view is that if all of us weren't doing this, then none of us would be," he said.

As each of these cities figures out how to make bike-share work, one of the interesting things to watch is how they get people excited about the idea of public bikes. For Nice Ride, the name of the game is public health and economic development. The project has attracted a broad range of support, with major chunks of funding coming courtesy of health insurer BlueCross BlueShield and contributions from local businesses.

A $1.75 million federal grant will cover much of the initial cost, with $1 million from BlueCross providing most of the remainder. "BlueCross BlueShield is all about fighting obesity right now," said Dossett. "They're interested in anything that encourages physical activity."

Small businesses in Minneapolis's downtown retail area are bullish on bike-share, he added, "because it's an economic development tool. It gets people to come out to lunch from office towers a mile away."

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Bicycling Up 8.5 Percent in SF Last Year, 53 Percent Increase from 2006

San_Francisco_Citywide_Bicycle_Counts__2006_09_.jpgSan Francisco Citywide Bicycle Counts (2006-09). Image courtesy SFMTA.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has released its 2009 Bicycle Count Report (PDF), which shows an 8.5 percent increase in the number of cyclists on the streets last year compared to 2008, and a 53 percent increase since 2006. That marks the third consecutive year of growth for bicycling in the city - every year since the MTA began conducting the annual counts in 2006. Though not as explosive as the 25 percent increase recorded between 2007 and 2008, it's a solid figure for a year in which many of the nation's top cycling cities saw growth in bike trips slowed down by a weak economy and depressed gas prices.

In light of the Bike Plan injunction in San Francisco that's been in place since 2006, the MTA is especially pleased with the continued growth. "Given the inability to make physical improvements to bicycling in San Francisco over the time period, we can only imagine how great an increase we'll have when we're able to implement the Bike Plan fully," said MTA spokesperson Judson True. "I think we're reaching a point in San Francisco where more and more people see bicycling as a primary means of getting around. That's a great sign for the future of San Francisco."

The SFBC's Andy Thornley felt the report deserved more public touting from the MTA, since it shows a 53 percent increase in bicycling since 2006. "We urge MTA to really come forward and make this a prominent report because it tells a really strong story of the city's success in achieving, or moving towards achieving, some of its mode shift and environmental goals," said Thornley. "During the three years and more that the city has been handcuffed from making any physical improvements for bikes, we've seen a 53 percent increase in bike traffic."

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