Minneapolis Public Works submits ideas on safer biking for the City Council’s legislative agenda

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The Minneapolis Public Works department finalized suggestions Thursday that the City Council lobby for more control over its bike laws in the upcoming legislative session.

The recommendations focused on laws like reducing speed limits to below 30 mph in certain areas.

“What we’re looking at are things that are prohibited now that we can add flexibility to if we need to make changes to in the future,” Councilman Robert Lilligren said.

One proposal asks for the city to lobby for increased funding for infrastructure and programs that would improve biking and walking in the city.

“Some people question if the funds, energy and planning behind all of this is worth it,” Councilman Kevin Reich said.

 “At this point, this is real infrastructure, real routes and it’s an essential part of Minneapolis.”

Improving biking is a way to keep the city competitive “in recruiting new workers and young people,” Reich said.

Other points presented to the council Thursday included the city’s support for researching the economic impact of biking in Minneapolis and outlawing parking in bike lines.

The department also pushed for clarification of laws regarding yielding to bicyclists.

City Councilwoman Elizabeth Glidden said the council promotes agendas that encourage non-motorized transportation.

“We put our energy behind improving roads for bikes and pedestrians,” she said.

Mayor R.T. Rybak and council staffers completed a 10-year Bicycle Master Plan in 2008 that lays the framework for bicycle policies and initiatives in Minneapolis.

“It’s what we want to do, where we want to go and how we want to do it,” city spokesman Matt Laible said. “It’s extensive, but it improves biking citywide.”

Reich said Minneapolis is “definitely up there in the top cities for bikers,” and Thursday’s proposals will add structure to rules that are unclear.

“It’s rewarding to set changes that help the biking community here in Minneapolis,” Lilligren said.

The council will revisit the suggestions in December as it finalizes its legislative lobbying agenda for the next session, which starts in January.

“Until then, these are suggestions, not adopted policy,” Laible said. “They are just proposals that the City Council is considering.”