Word on the Streets

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Living Green Expo

We had a wonderful time meeting new people at the Living Green Expo this past weekend.  Thanks to everyone who stopped by our table!

All of our materials for the weekend were transported by bicycle!

Minneapolis goes biking gold; to add bicycle coordinator

Last Saturday, Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybak accepted the City’s new GOLD Bicycle Friendly Community Designation from the League of American Bicyclists. Congrats to the City for the well-deserved honor!

Rightfully so, we are the envy of many of our big-city counterparts, including D.C.’s Streetsblog. Ah yes, as Mayor Rybak tweeted, “NY, DC and Boston got silver…how cute.”

Accepting the award at the Active Living Bike Expo, Mayor Rybak recognized that the City still has more work to do to become more bicycle friendly. To that end, he announced that the City will be restructuring some things in the Department of Public Works to create the City’s first ever full-time bicycle coordinator.

Yes, a full-time bicycle coordinator!

That’s someone who is directly responsible and accountable for helping make the city more bicycle friendly. Someone whose job it is to make sure that we don’t miss opportunities for new bike lanes (like University Ave near the Gophers’ Stadium). Someone whose job it is to coordinate across City departments and with the cycling community. To make City processes more efficient, so that we can deliver more bike projects.  To push for best practices and inspire all of us to get to a Platinum ranking and beyond.

This is something that many, if not most, of our peer cycling cities have had for a decade or more (including our arch-nemesis Portland!) . And now we will have it in Minneapolis!

We thank Mayor Rybak for his leadership on this issue. We’ve been pushing for such a coordinator for some time, and were just trying to get the idea included in the City’s Bicycle Master Plan when Mayor Rybak called me a month or so ago and asked me for more details about the idea. Since then, the Mayor, his staff, and Public Works Director Steve Kotke have been thinking with us about how we can make this happen and make sure that the position is successful.

We contacted about a dozen bicycle coordinators from around the country to get their ideas for how we can make sure that this person is successful and then drafted a position description that Public Works will work with us to refine before posting the position soon. Meanwhile, Public Works staff have been busily thinking about where this person should be located to have the greatest impact and engaging Hennepin County staff, who have also expressed support.

We’ll be helping to get the word out across the country, so that we can attract the very best candidates (who wouldn’t want to be the bicycle coordinator in Minneapolis, number one bike city in the US?). And the City wants to make sure that we get the right person, so they’ve asked that we and the Bicycle Advisory Committee be involved in the hiring selection process. We’re honored and excited to be able to help.

We know that just having a full-time bicycle coordinator will help make Minneapolis even better for bicycling, but we also know that to be truly successful, the new hire will need community and internal staff support. We’ll keep doing our part to try to make sure that happens. This is a great opportunity for all of us Minneapolitans who bike!

Source: Patty Soldner, Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota

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