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January 19, 2012

I Want to Ride my Bicycle...in Minneapolis!

Bike laneYesterday, the City of Minneapolis released its first ever Bicycle Account (PDF), which reports on the city’s progress towards being a better place for bicyclists - or as we see it, giving more of its citizens safe transportation choices.  

Some of the great improvements:

  • The city has seen a 47% increase in bicyclists counted annually from 2007 to 2011, with a 25% increase happening between 2010 and 2011
  • 600+ new bike street-markings and four new bicycle boulevards added in 2011
  • 75% increase in the miles of on-street bikeways from 2010-2011, bringing the total miles of bikeways to 167
  • Safety in numbers! Fewer bicycle crashes despite more bicycle commuters

The Sierra Club’s North Star Chapter in Minnesota has been hard at work pushing forward this progress, working with the city of Minneapolis to finalize its Bicycle Master Plan, focusing attention to investments in underserved communities and disparities in bike infrastructure. 

The Chapter has also been working to involve community members to push the city and state to implement its recently-passed “complete streets” policy** on major roads like Franklin Avenue, Central Avenue and Snelling Avenue, including  better pedestrian crossings and bicycle safety improvements like bike lanes. 

To emphasize the local preferences for complete streets improvements on Snelling Avenue, one of the most dangerous sections of state highway in the system, the Chapter involved over 200 neighbors in a series of community meetings held with partner organizations.  By involving community members to push for the incorporation of complete streets design elements during resurfacing, the Chapter is encouraging the Minnesota Department of Transportation to apply these design concepts as common practice to all future preservation projects.

In addition to advocating for physical improvements to the city’s bicycle infrastructure, the Chapter has worked to build up a culture that encourages bicycling in Minneapolis, hosting and co-sponsoring 100-person plus group rides like the Tour de Minneapolis and the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition Joy Ride and participating in the opening of Nice Ride bike share stations on the north side of the city.  

While the city has made some great strides in 2011, we’re looking forward to more - more bikes, more choices, and more ways for Minnesotans to move beyond (tar sands) oil.

In Minnesota?  Get involved with the North Star Chapter, or learn more about its work here.

**Complete Streets policies require governments to give due consideration to all right-of-way users in the planning and design of roadways-- bicyclists, pedestrians, and transit riders included!

-Rachel Butler, National Conservation Organizer for the Sierra Club Green Transportation Campaign

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