Last week, we gathered to do two things: We remembered Jose Manuel, a little boy who was killed by a driver while walking in the corridor, and celebrated the protected bikeways recently installed on 26th and 28th Streets. These bikeways make the area where he was killed much more safe.
The event started at 26th Street and Hiawatha Avenue, where Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition community organizer José Luis Villaseñor led a ride down the bikeway on 26th Street. As we biked, we got to listen to some fun music, courtesy of José Luis' cargo bike, and just enjoy the experience of safely riding down a street that used to be a highway only for cars.
We arrived at Stewart Park soon afterwards. Many snacks were consumed and balloons were handed out. There were a lot of conversations about the neighborhood, the goodness it contains, and how to make it safer for everyone.
Then, there were a few speakers. Our Executive Director, Ethan Fawley, spoke first. To him, fixing 26th and 28th streets was personal. He spoke about how he crosses 26th Street every day with his 6-month old. Before this project was completed, he feared for his safety and that of his child every time he made the crossing. Now, with medians, one fewer lane, and other traffic calming techniques, he feels safer making the crossing.
Next, Aisha Gomez spoke for City Council Member Alondra Cano. Gomez was happy that the City finally invested in her neighborhood. She feels now that 26th and 28th are streets people will use to get to her neighborhood, rather than to pass through the neighborhood.
Finally, Sebastiana, Jose Manuel's mother spoke. She is still grieving for her son and had a hard time coming up with words to say, but what she did tell us was, "Thank you for remembering my son."
José Luis added to that, speaking about the Mexican tradition "Dia de los Muertos," where the families of those who have died remember them and celebrate them every year. "That's how we keep them alive."
So, thank you to everyone who attended our celebration. And thank you to everyone who has signed a letter of support for protected bikeways, to everyone who has volunteered at bicycling events, to everyone who helps us spread the message that we need better bikeways NOW, not after there's a tragedy. We are happy that we've made so much progress this year. We will make even more progress in the years to come.