By Erin Daly
Take a second to think about the last time you were in a car. Probably wasn’t that long ago, right? And when you decided to drive, why did you do it? Was it because convenient transit not available? Or because it was too far, or too dangerous to bike or walk? Was it really a choice at all?
Now think about how nice it would have been to have options; cheaper, more direct, more active options. Minnesota has long been investing in roads, with insufficient emphasis on transit, bicycling and walking. It’s high time for a more inclusive, balanced funding approach which provides adequate transportation choices for everyone. The Move MN coalition has recognized the opportunity to pass such a comprehensive, balanced transportation bill this legislative session, and is working to ensure more funding for Minnesota’s pressing transportation needs.
The need for more complete streets, that are safe and accessible to everyone, can be approached from any angle and offer undeniable benefits. Economically speaking, transportation is the second highest household expense, yet only 10% of metro-area jobs are conveniently served by transit. The Twin Cities region needs an expanded bus system to make our regular trips as workers, consumers, and visitors more affordable and reliable. Additionally, complete streets (bicycle, pedestrian, and transit accommodations) bring in more profit for businesses along improved routes.
From a public safety standpoint, investing in transportation options means respecting and protecting everyone’s right to the road. How will parents feel safe letting their children ride a bike to school, if we don’t acknowledge their right to use the street? In recent years there has only been enough state funding for ¼ of the proposed Safe Routes to School projects put forth by communities across Minnesota. Surely, we can do better.
We all have different reasons for moving the way we do, but we all depend on staying connected to the places around us. We have jobs, classes, families and friends across the cities and across our state; and we have a right to get to them in the most affordable, healthiest, safest way. If you believe the Minnesota State Legislature should be paying more attention to our transportation needs,
And in the meantime, repeat after me:
I, [insert name], as a [student, employee, cyclist, brother/sister/father/mother/friend, Minnesotan], deserve better transportation options. And so do all of my fellow [insert positive adjective(s)] Minnesotans.
Erin Daly is a senior Geography major at Macalester College and a Green Transportation Intern at the Sierra Club. After graduating she hopes to work on issues surrounding bicycle equity in urban areas.