At 4pm on Thursday, October 9, the Minneapolis Bicycle Advisory Committee's Education, Encouragement, Enforcement, Equity, & Evaluation Subcommittee held it's monthly meeting.
Minneapolis Park Police Overview
Sargent Keith Rowland provided a pleasantly uneventful overview of Minneapolis Park Police activity. He reminded us that Minneapolis parks have been voted number one out of all the park systems in the US, and that the trails are some of the safest parts of the city.
To help keep our parks and trails safe and maintain order, the park has full-time use of 33 Minneapolis Police officers -- 9 of which are sworn park agents (an additional 10 officers will also become sworn park agents in 2015).
Working closely with the Minneapolis police bike Patrol unit, the park police patrol the parks everyday from noon till 8pm. They are also heavily engaged with the local community and can often be found at Community Recreational centers and local events.
Typically, park police officers report safety hazards, such as dead street lighting or inadequate signage, and handle complaints from the community. The most common complaints center around pedestrian and bicyclists' inappropriate use of trails, paths, or sidewalks. Incidents tend to be isolated, and there are no specific hotspots.
If you have a complaint about Minneapolis parks or trails you can call 911 or contact the Park Police directly at: 612 230 6550.
Minneapolis Walking (And Biking) Routes for Youth Map
Created in close collaboration with Minneapolis Public Schools this beautifully illustrated, easy-to-read map highlights neighborhood and trail walking routes that are straightforward and safer for children to use to travel independently to and from every school, library and parks recreation center in Minneapolis.
Unexpectedly, the map also shows the location of traffic lights, all way stops signs and flasher signals so parents can help their children formulate a plan for how and where to cross the street.
For most children walking to school will be a new experience, so the reverse side of the map provides essential education and ideas around:
How to cross a busy street
The correct way to lock a bike
How to organize a 'walking school bus' or 'bike train'
How to combine walking with other forms of transportation if your child lives too far to walk
According the map, walking to school is better for children not only because it improves their health, but studies have shown that boosts concentration, and increases independence. It can also have a positive impact on the community by reducing traffic congestion at school start and stop times, and reducing air pollution from cars.
The map will be released this fall, and should be available to children through their schools and local libraries.
Bicyclists should be aware that if this plan is successful, there should be a significant increase in pedestrian traffic around schools in the early mornings and evenings. Although additional signage is planned to alert motor traffic, there is no corresponding plan to alert bicyclists on routes that intersect or are close to bike trails.
Minneapolis Bike Week
Minneapolis Bike week is an annual event designed to get new people out and riding. For one week in May, the community is encouraged to participate in activities such as National Bike to Work/School day and other events.
Minneapolis Bike Week was extended to 8 days this year to encompass the over 500 events organized by the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition (provided staffing and infrastructure) in conjunction with 74 business partners and 37 Minneapolis schools, with the bulk of funding provided by the City of Minneapolis.
According to Program Aid, Nick Olson, engagement in Minneapolis Bike Week reached an all-time high this year with over 10,000 participants -- including 1600 children who either biked or walked to school that week.
This year's event also attracted 6 TV segments -- the most anyone can remember since Minneapolis Bike Week started in 2006.
Planning for Minneapolis Bike Week 2015 is just beginning. Exact dates have not yet been decided although it is possible that it will take place sometime within the last two weeks of May to coincide with key dates (such as Bike to Work/School Day, Cyclofemme, etc.) set aside by the national League of American Bicyclists.
Volunteer participation from members of our community is a key factor in the success of this initiative. If you would like to be involved, contact Nick Olson at Nick.Olson@MinneapolisMN.gov.
Some facts about Minneapolis Bike Week:
It started In 2006, as Walk to Work Week, but gradually, over the years the number of bicyclists have increased so that in 2014 walkers accounted for less than 10% of participants. Hence, the decision was made to scrap the walking component. This year was the first Minneapolis Bike (only) Week, although all types of activity are encouraged.
It happens at the same time as Saint Paul bike week.
It originally took place in June, but was moved to May to coincide with National Bike Month.
City funding has not yet been agreed for Minneapolis Bike Week 2015, so the subcommittee unanimously passed a resolution to recommend it at the next BAC general meeting.
A discussion around whether a new name would more accurately reflect the purpose and scope of this subcommittee was tabled until a future meeting.
The subcommittee considered ways to increase awareness of its existence in order to better serve the more immediate needs of the bicycle community. This discussion had to be adjourned due to lack of time.
If You Would Like To Attend...
BAC 5E meets on the second Thursday of the month in the US Bank Plaza Building Commuter Connection Office 220 6th St S, Suite 230 - Skyway level. Meetings start at 4pm.
For more information about the 5E subcommittee, visit their website or contact Simon Blenski at Simon.Blenski@MinneapolisMN.gov.
The next 5E subcommittee meeting is scheduled for Thursday, November 13th. All members of the community are invited to attend.