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Building an Alliance for Active Transportation in Minnesota
Since 2008, the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota (BikeMN) has played an important role in bike and walk advocacy. Here are some of the important areas they are focusing their advocacy efforts on in 2021.
Since 2008, the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota (BikeMN) has played an important role in bike and walk advocacy. With the support of state agencies, fellow advocacy organizations, chapters, individual members and business partners, BikeMN continues that role today. Here are some of the important areas they are focusing their advocacy efforts on in 2021.
Safety & Education
BikeMN trains the next generation of roadway users to better utilize our transportation system in a manner that prioritizes human life and health. The Walk! Bike! Fun! Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Curriculum for kids, Adult Learn to Ride, and People Friendly Driver programs help do this at all age levels. In addition, BikeMN continues to advocate for proven strategies like Safe Routes to School and Vision Zero at the state, regional, and local levels. Highlights from 2020 include adapting the Walk! Bike! Fun! curriculum to better suit distance-learning and learning at home and releasing it in Spanish, Hmong, and Somali, as well as English.
BikeMN seeks to incorporate equity in everything they do. They have and continue to advocate for directing active transportation resources toward low-income families, communities of color, people with mobility and cognitive limitations, individuals experiencing homelessness, citizens of tribal communities, and others historically denied access. There is still a long way to go to ensure everyone is provided the inclusive and equitable transportation system we all deserve.
Car trip reduction and replacement through biking and walking is one way we can keep our air clean and reduce traffic congestion. Recently, BikeMN’s Executive Director Dorian Grilley was appointed to the state’s Sustainable Transportation Advisory Council. He was also consulted by MnDOT and the Governor’s office while they were drafting the biking, walking, and bike shop exemptions to the Stay at Home Minnesota order in March of 2020. BikeMN realizes that active transportation is not the only solution to the many climate challenges we face but they argue, (and have plenty of evidence to share) that it is one of the most cost effective ones!
Time spent outdoors improves our psychological, physiological, and social well-being as we connect with nature and ourselves. At BikeMN, we take the time to experience the outdoors as often as we can and continue to push for opportunities for everyone to do the same. Despite the pandemic cancelling BikeMN’s in-person events, they saw more than 1,000 Minnesotans (including many newcomers to their organization) riding and sharing their stories through their newly launched “BikeMN Classic” and the “River Ramble DIY” virtual events.
According to their 2018 survey, 81% of Minnesotans want more cycling in their lives and 50% would prefer to walk more, too! A nationwide study, ongoing for nearly four decades, shows that being active, like biking a couple miles just three times a week, can significantly reduce one’s risk of diabetes, heart disease (46%), and hypertension. BikeMN and our public health partners know that active transportation has cascading benefits for individuals, our environment, and communities at large. This is why BikeMN is passionate about continuing to advocate for biking and walking to be easy, safe, and fun for everyone.
Trails, Program, and Infrastructure Investment
BikeMN is a respected voice among community and business leaders, at the state legislature, and city councils statewide and continues to insist that elected officials, public works departments, and state agencies invest in recreational trails, shoulders on roadways, bike routes, basic sidewalk infrastructure, protected bike lanes, and efforts to engage all members of our communities through education and investment. Active transportation scored a major win in October 2020 when the Minnesota Legislature came together and passed a bonding bill that included $3 million for the state Safe Routes to School Program and funding for many important trail and bike/pedestrian bridge projects.
Being Bicycle Friendly is part of Economic Vitality
In Minnesota, being Bicycle Friendly is something that local officials and business leaders really value. It has become an important part of their strategies to attract and retain residents and employees. BikeMN uses the League of American Bicyclists Bicycle Friendly American Program to evaluate and assist communities and businesses large and small all around the state with their Bicycle Friendly and active transportation plans, goals, and strategies. Minnesota now has 32 nationally ranked Bicycle Friendly Communities and nearly 100 Bicycle Friendly Businesses, helping economies large and small benefit from walking and biking.
Experience BikeMN for Yourself
If you find yourself living or visiting Minnesota between June and October you may also be able to experience some of BikeMN’s premiere one-day bike tours like the Tour of Saints, Saint Paul Classic, Rock-n-Roll the Lakes, or the Mankato River Ramble. These events are not only fun for all ages and skill levels, they’re also an important fundraiser for BikeMN to support the many projects you read about above. Learn more and become a member at bike.MN.org.