Bicycles and the Bottom Line

Recognition of how bicycles can economically benefit a neighborhood, city, and region unintentionally wove a thread through the agenda of the May 17 BAC subcommittee I attended.

Neighborhood level

As Lesley wrote in an April blog posting, BAC members who attended the annual bike summit in Washington DC earlier this year were fired up about Long Beach California’s bicycle friendly business district.

The idea continued to gain traction at the May 17 meeting, as the subcommittee passed a motion to further explore the idea here in Minneapolis.

That means the committee will take the idea to the Community Planning and Economic Development (CPED) group, to help fully bake the plan, find funding partners, and turn the idea into a reality. It was hoped that CPED could attend this subcommittee meeting, but were not able to attend.

Nick Mason of Bicycle Alliance of MN shared the upside to such a project, noting that it has relatively low start up costs for the amount of publicity, sales, and goodwill that it generates. It also gives businesses the opportunity to embrace and become champions for bicycling.

City level: open streets in North Minneapolis

There is a movement to bring the Lyndale Avenue Open Streets concept to the north side of town. But it appears that getting city permits to block traffic, get police support etc., can be a cumbersome impediment to getting the idea off the ground.

The committee is proposing an alternate permit process on a pilot basis, and hopes to try it as they prepare for this event, tentatively scheduled for September 29 on Lowry Avenue. However the alternative permitting idea was tabled until the June subcommittee meeting, when experts would be on hand to help the group more fully understand the permitting issues, because the pilot project would likely need city council approval.

City level: convention center

Jeff Johnson, the executive director of the Minneapolis Convention Center also attended the meeting. He shared their idea to tout cycling as an option for convention visitors (a NiceRide station sits right outside the center). Bicycles would get convention visitors out of the skyway system, allowing them to access larger portions of the city by bike.

State level

A collaboration of Minnesota organizations (including Explore Minnesota, HealthPartners, and the DNR) are pitching our state's cycling reputation as means for drawing more tourism, and coincides with May as national bike month. Take a look at their polished pedal mn website.

Electric-assist pedicabs

During the recent legislative session, a law was clarified to allow electric assist pedicabs to operate on roadways, and a pedi-cab advocate joined the meeting to discuss the matter.

This law previously classified pedicabs as mopeds, which disallowed them from using bike lanes. According to the guest, pedicabs use a combination of pedal and electric power, average 12-15 mph, and the power cuts out at 20 mph. He was there to ask the committee for their support in updating the Minneapolis City ordinance to match the new state ordinance. The committee agreed and moved the topic forward for hearing at the full BAC meeting. 

Bike/Walk/Move study

Hillary Reeves and Sarah Kretman-Stewart presented results from the Bike Walk Move media campaign in North Minneapolis and the Kingfield neighborhood. The campaign measured survey residents before and after the campaign, and the results revealed the challenges in changing behavior and converting nonbikers to bikers. There are three stages to changing behavior: 1. Awareness (aware of the possibilities), 2. Consideration (consider the possibility) and Implementation (changing behavior). By moving the community towards the first step, actual behavior change may be more likely in the future.

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