This post is by Lindsey Wallace and originally appeared on bikinginmpls.com.
The Winter Cycling Congress (WCC) is over, but it's given many folks a lot to think about. Last week at the Bicycle Advisory Committee's 5E subcommittee meeting, we discussed what we found most inspiring at the WCC. Here are some of the more notable ideas and projects we learned about:
- The main purpose of the WCC is to not need the WCC anymore. The hope is that eventually winter biking will become a normal part of our cities and communities. Eventually it'll be normalized, and we won't need to have special conferences to talk about it. It'll be no big deal.
- There was wide and varied discussion of equity, justice, and making biking more accessible to all people.
- The weather was perfect for the conference. It snowed, and we were able to show off our maintenance skills. People from Finland and elsewhere were impressed with our snow removal practices. We did a good job here.
- My highlight was seeing all the ways that people and communities bring creativity to the challenge of encouraging winter cycling. I loved hearing about mobile bike feasts in Saskatoon, community projects in Minneapolis, and the way the Slow Roll movement has been changing communities.
- I was thoroughly inspired by tactical urbanism. Tactical urbanism is this idea that you get volunteers to implement small-scale urban changes, like a DIY bike lane, and see how it goes. In comparison to traditional methods, tactical urbanism requires less investment so allows communities to be more creative and try out new ideas.
- It was hard to bike on bike boulevards without a winter bike. They got icy and rutted, and may not provide as much functionality in winter as in other times of the year. These streets are not heavily trafficked enough for the snow to melt from the heat of cars, which makes biking rough. We might need to rely on other types of infrastructure for winter, like protected bikeways.
- One Canadian city has a on-street bike corral cost-share program, similar to Minneapolis. However, they've done it better. Their bike parking is covered which means it can be left in place year round, and the city foots 90% of the cost, vs. just 50% in Minneapolis. Minneapolis could look into improving our on-street bike parking corrals and footing more of the bill, which might encourage more businesses to make use of the program.
- Richfield Public Works presented about their new Sweet Streets campaign. Folks were impressed with how progressively Richfield is approaching street design. They're not just putting in some bike lanes here and there, they're building a livable city where people can get where they need to go by whatever mode they choose.
- At the 38th Street LRT stop, Metro Transit will be implementing secure bike parking cages. Individuals will register their Go-To Card by which stop they'll be using, and then can use their Go-To Card to open the secure bike parking only at that stop. It'll provide secure, ample bike parking without the hassle of a locker.
- There are a variety of different automatic counters that cities are using to capture how many people are biking. One idea was that we could set up one of these automatic counters near a ZAP counter to figure out how many folks are biking and compare that with how many of those people have ZAP tags. That way we can use ZAP data to estimate the total number of bikers.
These were just some of our main takeaways from the conference. Were you at the WCC? What was the most inspiring thing you learned?