The case of the missing Lyndale bike connection

On the outskirts of many large, expensive, complicated public works projects, there are often examples of easy little things we could do to improve our cities for very little money. A couple blocks from my humble apartment, the City of Minneapolis is moving ahead with a rebuild of the Hennepin/Lyndale bottleneck that looks to be a real improvementfor pedestrians, cyclists, and transit users. Just south of that, though, is another thing we ought to do something about. Continue Reading

Ford Parkway reconstruction: Close but not quite

Here is my open letter to Ramsey County Public Works. I know I’m late to this process and honestly don’t expect them to change their plans (which can be seen here [large PDF]). I will preface this by thanking Ramsey County for putting in any bike lanes, but if no one demands better then we can’t expect better. Continue Reading

Hmong youth engaged in the North Minneapolis Greenway

“Greenway yog ab tsi?”, or “What is a greenway?” in the Hmong language, is a question that has been asked more than 100 times of North Minneapolis community members in and near Hmong International Academy by middle school students of color in the YMCA Beacons Minneapolis program at Hmong International Academy (HIA) – a Minneapolis Public School in the Jordan Neighborhood of North Minneapolis.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.From April to June of 2014, Hmong American Partnership, in collaboration with Hana Media & Development, provided an after-school media arts, service-learning project called In Focus: N. MPLS Greenway (or simply In Focus) for a group of mostly Hmong middle school students at the HIA, to assist the City of Minneapolis share information about the potential North Minneapolis Greenway and collect feedback from the community, especially from Asian Americans in the area who had not been a part of the city’s first round of engagement regarding the possible greenway.The participants in the In Focus project learned about video production skills, the City of Minneapolis’ greenway concepts, and community outreach techniques. Through the guidance of program facilitators, the youth helped to create Hmong and English Public Service Announcement (PSA) videos, and conducted surveys of HIA friends, families, and faculty, as well as other community members in the area. One Hmong student in the project remarked, “It’s great that we are make videos to help share this info with other Hmong in the community.”Through the PSAs and conversations about the project, community members learned that a greenway is a park-like trail that people can use for biking, walking, transportation, and recreation, and that the city is currently considering Humboldt Avenue North, from the Victory Neighborhood to the Near North or Harrison Neighborhood of North Minneapolis, as a possible route for the North Minneapolis Greenway. Continue Reading

Video: Express Bike Shop

Minnesota 2020 went to the Express Bike Shop in St. Paul to learn more about Youth Express and their apprenticeship program for young adults. Youth Express, a program of Keystone Community Services, is a program created to help young adults develop entrepreneurial skills, work ethic and leadership. Keys Stone’s investment to Youth Express helps provide a paid employment opportunity for youth who are joining the work force or those who may have already had a little work history.

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Unsafe and unseen—Minnesota’s ghost bikers

The Twin Cities are regarded as America’s litmus for bicycling. Minneapolis has been rated the number one bicycling city, while Bicycling Times lauded “the nation’s finest network of off street bicycle trails”. Former Mayor Rybak told visitors: “Biking has become a large part of what we are.”

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Bike count informs Minneapolis city planning

Standing on the corner of Cedar and Riverside avenues Tuesday afternoon, Jacob Knight stared intently at each passing bicyclist and pedestrian.As each one passed, he checked them off, remaining largely unnoticed by the world around him.The urban and regional planning master’s student was volunteering for Minneapolis’ annual survey to see how many of its citizens walk and bike.Since 2007, the city has monitored bicyclists at 30 main locations, with intersections near the University of Minnesota reporting consistently high counts. The method helps transportation officials monitor and plan bicycling initiatives based on traffic patterns, and bike traffic citywide has spiked in recent years.City staff members and about 100 volunteers will complete their three-day count Thursday, tallying bicyclists and pedestrians in small time increments over the course of two hours, said Simon Blenski, a Public Works Department bicycle planner.The Washington Avenue Bridge and two spots in the Dinkytown area have ranked among the top five most frequented bicycle locations since 2011.Citywide, an 11 percent increase in bicycle traffic between 2012 and 2013 followed a cumulative 56 percent increase in the five years before.This year, Blenski said the city doesn’t expect an increase in bicyclists that exceeds 10 percent.“I would expect it to keep pace,” he said.To conduct the study, volunteers sign up and complete a short, online training course that prepares them to count and tally every passing bicycle by hand, Blenski said.“It’s a lot to organize, but we’ve found a pretty streamlined way to do it,” he said.Knight said he decided to volunteer because he wanted to help create valuable data to inform city planning.Dave Paulson, a city volunteer who bikes to work daily, said he thought counting bicycles would be a good way to contribute to new bicycle infrastructure.“I think [bicyclists are] an underserved population in the city,” he said.Minneapolis has a few automated locations to count passing bicycles, Blenski said, but they are expensive, require calibration and aren’t completely accurate. Using volunteers and staff members to supervise has provided consistent results, he said.Keeping track of bicyclist numbers helps the city evaluate the success of its infrastructure goals and plan new ones, like bike trails and green-painted bike lanes, he said.“All those goals are tied to hard data,” Blenski said, adding that bicycle infrastructure helps the city become more sustainable.Minneapolis officials watch for traffic changes after implementing a bike lane, Blenski said — like increased bicyclists and fewer bicycles riding on the sidewalk — so they can make adjustments in the future.Anecdotal evidence shows students are reaping the benefits.Noah Wilson, president of the University’s Cycling Team, said he doesn’t have a problem getting around campus on his bike.“From my experience, cycling is pretty popular on campus, and I would say fairly accessible as well,” he said.Grant Flick, the team’s vice president, said he’s excited to see the types of bike paths the city will implement in response to the survey.“It all comes down to infrastructure,” he said.Despite the accumulation of seven years of bike traffic counts, Blenski said experts sometimes cannot make definitive conclusions for up to several years.“We would like to think that [the biking increase is] primarily due to infrastructure investments,” Blenski said.In order to continue promoting increased bicycle use around Minneapolis and the University, the city works to create connections with the campus, he said.The University will conduct its own bicycle and pedestrian traffic counts for the East Bank, West Bank and St. Paul campuses later this month, said Jacqueline Brudlos, communications manager for Parking and Transportation Services. Continue Reading

2014 St. Paul street repairs — An opportunity for complete streets

In response to widespread public outrage about rutted, ice-clad streets, and jolting potholes throughout the City of Saint Paul in the winter and spring of 2014, Mayor Chris Coleman has proposed a plan to resurface eleven of the “Terrible Twenty” worst arterial streets before the end of the fall construction season. Continue Reading