New bicycle advocacy group aims at students, protected bikeways

From improving existing bike lanes to giving city officials suggestions on upcoming projects, a new advocacy group at the University of Minnesota is working to address cyclists’ concerns.The group is a collaboration between members of the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition and the Minneapolis Public Interest Research Group. It aims to formulate plans for improving campus-area infrastructure and raise people’s awareness of bicyclists’ issues.“Our goal is to have bike infrastructure that works for students and connects them to the rest of the city,” said Daniel Lubben, an urban studies junior and co-leader of the group.He said the group is focusing on several bike projects that city officials are pushing forward in the coming years, including the Oak Street Southeast Bikeway — a city-funded project that will begin construction this year. The project will create a bike path along the west side of the street. According to a city report, the road carries more than 1,100 bicyclists a day.The group met earlier this month to discuss the new bikeway and examine its potential problems.“It is important to get the earliest generations of bike lanes correct,” said Steve Sanders, the University’s alternative transportation manager.Sanders suggested the group discuss challenges the new bike lane could pose at the busy intersection of Washington Avenue and Oak Street.Lubben said members of the bike coalition asked him and Bailey Shatz-Akin, an environmental science policy and management junior, to lead the bike advocacy group.Shatz-Akin said the group will also focus on proposing updates to the Minneapolis Bicycle Master Plan, a plan aimed at improving bicyclists’ safety and increasing the amount of them in the city.She said the group will analyze the plan and offer suggestions to city officials.About 30 students and bike advocates showed up for the group’s first meeting on March 12. Laura Kling, Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition’s community organizer, said the turnout represents the high amount of involvement people have in cyclists’ issues on campus.Among those who attended the meeting was Rob DeHoff, owner of Varsity Bike and Transit in Dinkytown.DeHoff said he hopes the group can expand on existing bike projects in the University’s area, like the 15th Avenue Southeast bike lane.Chris Stanley, a neuroscience sophomore and member of the group, said the group’s goals will ultimately benefit everyone traveling in the campus area.“We’re a community of people who want to improve the way our street systems work by making it friendly for both cars and bikes,” he said.[See original post here:] Continue Reading

Franklin Avenue, a Past and Future Native Home: An Interview with NACDI’s Andy Hestness

[Image at right: Rendering of the coming Anpetu Was’te cultural market on Franklin Avenue.] Franklin Avenue was once the border of Minneapolis, marking the edge of the city. Before that it was home to the Dakota people, and since the 1950’s post-“relocation era”, it is the site of the Little Earth community, the country’s only Indian-preference affordable housing site. But Franklin Avenue, which is controlled by Hennepin County, is also one of the most danerously designed streets in the city, home to a disproportionate amount of bicycle and pedestrian accidents. In particular, the corner of Franklin, Riverside, and Hiawatha, around the light rail station, has long been a dark, unpleasant place for people to walk and divded communities around. Transforming Franklin from a dangerous eyesore into a welcoming home for the surrounding Native community is one of the top priorities for Andy Hestness, vice president of the Native American Community Development Institute (NACDI), which runs the All My Relations gallery on Franklin Avenue and works as an intermediary for the Twin Cities Native Amerian people. We caught up with him last week to talk about how Native American’s are starting to challenge and transform how sideawlks, buses, and bikes work in and around Franklin Avenue, Minneapolis’ most neglected busy street. Continue Reading

SPOKES and Cycles for Change to Merge

On January 1, we had a big change: SPOKES (the community bike center just east of the LRT on 22nd Street) merged with Cycles for Change, a community bike center headquartered in St. Paul. The two community bike centers have very similar programs. Also, Cycles for Change provided fantastic support to SPOKES when it was starting two and a half years ago.We will keep SPOKES great staff, location, programs, and hours. (details at • Our Open Shop (where we help you fix your bike) stays on Saturday afternoons and Wednesday evenings,•Our Earn-a-Bike course continue,• Our Learn-to-Ride course will start again this spring• Our volunteer nights stay the same,• The Hub Mini Store @SPOKES will actually add hours this spring (adding Sunday to sell reconditioned used bikes) SPOKES is actually merging with an old friend. There has been a long history of collaboration between SPOKES and Cycles for Change (as long as that a two and a half year old program can have):• Most of SPOKES’ programs and policies were designed using Cycles for Change’s programs as a template.• For its first year, SPOKES contracted with Cycles for Change to provide staff support for the Learn-to-Ride program and Open Shop.• SPOKES has been a branch of Cycles for Change’s Community Partners Bike Library Program for the last two years. In addition, SPOKES is joining with a couple old friends: Cycles for Change’s current Executive Director (Jason Tanzman) and current board president (Katya Pilling) were the two people responsible for the original idea of starting a community bike center in Seward. Continue Reading

The more cyclists, the better; West Bank nonprofit gives locals a chance at bicycling

After a month of studying and repairing bicycles, two people will ride away from a small shop near the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood on free bikes.A mile south of the West Bank, the nonprofit SPOKES Bike Walk Connect center began its Earn-A-Bike program on Saturday. The program, now in its third year, consists of a four-week course aimed at getting community members who might not otherwise be able to afford a bike on two wheels.SPOKES attracts participants from around the Twin Cities area, including Cedar-Riverside residents and students from the University of Minnesota and Augsburg College.Program manager Ana Begej said Metro Transit makes substantial bicycle donations to the organization, which hosts multiple projects like the Earn-A-Bike program, bike-riding classes and open shop time.Brad Carlson, a volunteer with the group, punched a hole into a tire tube on Saturday so that Augsburg chemistry senior and fellow volunteer Ben Swanson could teach two students to repair it.Swanson said volunteering at SPOKES has helped him learn and dive into something outside of his area of expertise.“It opened up a world outside of chemistry for me,” he said.Swanson said he had planned to apply for graduate school and search for a job after he graduates this summer but now wants to ride a bike to Maine.Carlson said he tries spending as much time as he can in the little workspace, which is filled with hundreds of broken bikes.Before he was a volunteer, the program gave Carlson a mode of transportation after he overcame homelessness.“I come here, and I have a purpose,” he said.With grease-covered hands, Carlson described the different parts of a bicycle and what function each serves.One of the two students at Saturday’s program was Wondey Geta, 40, who traveled from Columbia Heights, Minn., to begin the monthslong process of earning his first bike in more than a decade, he said.“These guys are doing something that I’m drawn to,” he said, adding that he plans to volunteer with the center after he completes the four volunteer hours the program requires.University of Minnesota graduate Joshua Weichsel sat in the storefront of the Hub Bike Co-op Mini-Store, which rents space in the SPOKES building, to sell the organization’s repaired bikes on Saturday afternoon.Each bike sold at the Hub Mini-Store was repaired just a few feet away by SPOKES volunteers.Funds from the bike sales are split between the two organizations, Weichsel said. SPOKES gets 70 percent of each sale, while 30 percent goes to the Hub.Used bikes make up about 25 percent of SPOKES’ income, program manager Begej said.“Our goal isn’t to make money. It’s to serve an underserved area,” Weichsel said. “The more people on bikes, the better.” Continue Reading

The Hennepin County 2040 Bike Plan: Cassie’s notes

Late this fall Hennepin County put out a draft of its new 2040 Bicycle Plan for public review and comment. This long-range vision and planning document piqued my interest but, oof, the thing is 116 pages long! Not the easiest to tackle in terms of length, especially for bike-loving-yet-busy folks who might not have time to comb through it. In true librarian form, I decided to read the plan through and compile a sort of Cassie’s Notes version (who’s that Cliff guy, anyway?) to hopefully provide easier access to the information for more folks. This post gives a (relatively) short overview of the vision, goals, strategies, and actions of the Hennepin County 2040 Bike Plan. Continue Reading

Minneapolis is hitting the trifecta

If you’re a millennial and you’re looking for a job in a new city, you might have read (or want to read) the November 19th article in The Atlantic about “why it’s so hard for millenials to find a place to live and work”. The problem, it seems, is that the cities with the most upward mobility and the highest median incomes are also the cities with the least affordable housing. Continue Reading

Neighbors and buses sideswipe 36th Street Bikeway project

For bikers and motorists merging on to the new and improved West 36th Street in Minneapolis the view may be a Tale of Two Cities. For bikers, the best of times and excitement over a separate, partitioned 10 foot wide expressway; for motorists relegated to the other half of the roadway, “Wow, the new repainted traffic lanes look awfully narrow?” Minneapolis recently completed construction of the model 36th Street West Bikeway Project, which converted half of the street into a protected bikeway and pedestrian corridor.This is a Community Voices submission and is moderated but not edited. The opinions expressed by Community Voices contributors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the TC Daily Planet.The protected lane is comprised of a 3 foot buffer and railing separating vehicle traffic from a 10 foot wide bicycle and 7 foot wide pedestrian path. Running from Lake Calhoun to Dupont Avenue South, the $180K project was cooperatively funded by the city of Minneapolis, Hennepin County and two East Calhoun neighborhood groups. Continue Reading