By Justin Randall
The convenience and joys of biking are more accessible to the public than ever before. Forward-thinking advocates and city officials are interweaving two-wheeled transit into their region’s ever-evolving transportation networks, creating greener, healthier communities. On this ride to intelligent urban infrastructure, Minneapolis leads the peloton.
For many, Minneapolis’s claim to this title may come as a surprise. At the very least, it did to me. Four years ago I discovered this fact as I was rounding the final stretch of my secondary education. I knew what was next, the only question was where. To be honest, in my search for the ideal location to begin the next chapter of my life, I did not pay much attention at first to the upper Midwest, or “North,” as it is now being branded. My narrow gaze bounced back and forth between either coasts, the regions I believed to be the only cultural and economic hubs of any real importance.
It turned out that everything I sought along the coasts was, to my surprise, actually best found in the middle of what I originally considered a flyover state. The Twin Cities’ nationally-lauded biking culture and music scene sealed the deal. After four years, a couple concerts and many miles, I cherish that decision.
That is why I write today. I have come to love these cities and the transportation mode I use to explore them. While Minneapolis has been lauded as the friendliest biking city in the nation, real dangers remain for those who choose two-wheeled transportation. While nowhere near the worst-case scenarios that continue to haunt urban cyclists, I have literally lost a few teeth to these streets in my time here. And, like many other Twin Cities bicyclists, I have kissed the hood of one too many cars.
But I despair not. For the good of not only my remaining teeth, which I’m rather attached to, but the peace of mind of everyone bicycling, walking, using transit, and driving, the Minneapolis City Council and Mayor are currently considering a proposal to greatly improve a critical section of our city’s transportation network: a north-south bike connection through downtown. In doing this, they are exhibiting strong leadership in intelligent urban design and development. The project proposes redesigning downtown’s 3rd Ave S so as to feature increased green space and a protected bikeway. As the nation pedals toward progress, it takes careful note of the path taken (or made) by the citizens and elected officials of Minneapolis. These leaders are the force that help Minneapolis maintain its national recognition. One of these leaders is Sierra Club’s Land Use and Transportation Chair, Andy Coldwell. The Star Tribune recently published his letter to the editor in support of the 3rd Ave bikeway. But we need more advocates like you to step up and be leaders!
Help Downtown Minneapolis Pedal Forward
Can you take a moment to contact your City Council member and let them know you support the 3rd Ave S protected bikeway? The vote is in December so she or he needs to hear from you today!
Do you live in Minneapolis? Use this quick and easy tool to look up your City Council Member.
Calls are best! Just leave a quick message. Here are some ideas of what to say:
“I support the 3rd Ave Protected Bikeway in Downtown because…”
- It’s a critical north-south connection through downtown
- Safe and comfortable to encourage more people to bicycle
- Safer for EVERYONE- pedestrians and cars, too!
- Help the city reach its ridership goals in Climate Action Plan
- Increase valuable green space
Let us know if you took action. Thanks for being a Green Transportation leader!
Justin Randall is an Organizational Development Intern at the Sierra Club North Star Chapter. He is majoring in Environmental Studies at Macalester College.