This year has been a challenge for everyone, and we recognize that it has impacted some more severely than others. Our small but mighty BikeMN staff has made considerable effort to adjust and tackle these challenges head-on, and in doing so, we are better prepared for whatever the future may bring.
Here are a just few reasons to support BikeMN:
Safety & Education
Over the last decade, pedestrian fatalities are at a 30-year high, though bicyclist fatalities in the state remained stable. Fear of injury, or worse, prevents many from walking and bicycling. BikeMN continues to train the next generation of roadway stewards to better utilize our transportation system in a manner that prioritizes human life and health. Our Walk! Bike! Fun! Curriculum, Adult Learn to Ride, and People Friendly Driver programs help do this at all age levels. BikeMN continues to advocate, both virtually and in-person, for proven strategies like Safe Routes to School and Complete Streets, and for the investment, our state, communities, schools, and citizens deserve to further the progress we have already made. Highlights from 2020 include adapting our Walk! Bike! Fun! curriculum to better suit distance-learning and releasing it in Spanish, Hmong, and Somali, as well as English. We’ve also been executing some WBF! training and technical assistance, Adult Learn to Ride classes, and education events and rides with Three Rivers Park District — all while adhering to public health guidelines.
The poorest one-fifth of American families pay more than one-quarter of their income to own and operate a car. For many of these Minnesotans, it is significantly harder and more dangerous to walk, bike, or roll where they live. Since our inception, BikeMN has strived to incorporate equity in all that we do. However, we recognize we must do more. We will continue to advocate for directing active transportation resources toward low-income families, communities of color, people with mobility and cognitive limitations, individuals experiencing homelessness, citizens of tribal communities, and others historically denied access. We know there is a long way to go to ensure everyone in our state is provided the inclusive and equitable transportation system we all deserve. This fall, we were able to partner with Pillsbury United Communities and the Lex-Ham Community Council to help adults learn to ride so they can use a bicycle for transportation, and, of course, for fun. We also taught bike safely for kids and families at parks with Three Rivers Park District and Free Bikes 4 Kids.
In 2018, the transportation sector surpassed energy production as the #1 contributor to greenhouse gases. Yes, you read that right. Plus, those same vehicle emissions are choking us more than they have in decades, and they’re far worse on vulnerable populations like children, older adults, persons of color, and low-income families. Car trip reduction and replacement through biking and walking is one way we can keep our air clean. COVID-19 has shown us that more of us can drive less, work from home more often, and walk and bike more. BikeMN is playing an important and ongoing role in the transition to more biking and walking. Recently, BikeMN’s Executive Director Dorian Grilley was appointed to the state’s Sustainable Transportation Advisory Council. He was also consulted by MnDOT and the Governor’s office while they were drafting the biking, walking, and bike shop exemptions to the Stay at Home Minnesota order in March of this year.
According to a recent MN DNR survey, 90% of us believe getting outdoors is a key component of our happiness. The pandemic has certainly reflected that as our city, county, regional, and state trails have been full with Minnesotans walking, biking, and rolling as they explore new gems among our outdoor offerings. Time spent outdoors improves our psychological, physiological, and social well-being as we connect with nature and ourselves. At BikeMN, we take the time to experience the outdoors as often as we can and continue to push for opportunities for everyone to do the same. Something tangible: despite the pandemic canceling our in person events, we got more than 1,000 Minnesotans riding and sharing their stories through the statewide BikeMN Classic and the River Ramble DIY. We were also happy that the majority of the riders were new to BikeMN and submitted many, many, great photos.
We know that Minnesotans want to walk and bike MORE. According to our 2018 survey, 81% of Minnesotans want more cycling in their lives and 50% would prefer to walk more, too! Being active, like biking a couple of miles just three times a week, can significantly reduce one’s risk of diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension. We know active transportation has cascading benefits for individuals, our environment, and communities at large. This is why BikeMN is passionate about continuing to advocate for biking and walking to be easy, safe, and fun for everyone all across Minnesota.
Trails & Infrastructure Investment
Travel out of most downtown areas and not only do bike lanes disappear, but so do sidewalks, trails, and crosswalks. Cities and counties need expertise, public engagement, and precious time to make up for literally lost ground on account of car-centric planning. The right long-term infrastructure investments can ensure Minnesotans are able to safely and conveniently navigate their communities on foot, by bike, and by other modes of transportation. BikeMN is a respected voice among community and business leaders and at the state legislature. We will continue to insist that our elected officials, public works departments, and state agencies invest in recreational trails, shoulders on roadways, bike routes, basic sidewalk infrastructure, as well as protected bike lanes. Active transportation scored a major win in October when the Minnesota Legislature came together and passed a bonding bill that included $3 million for the state Safe Routes to School Program – more than ever – and many important trail and bike/pedestrian bridge projects.
Being Bicycle Friendly is part of Economic Vitality
Of Forbes’s “Top 10 Places to Live in America,” all 10 are officially ranked Bicycle Friendly Communities. Here in Minnesota, being Bicycle Friendly is something that local officials and business leaders really value. Minnesota now has 32 Bicycle Friendly Communities and nearly 100 Bicycle Friendly Businesses. These communities and businesses, both large and small, understand that investments in the 6-E’s of being Bicycle Friendly have cascading benefits for everyone. People young and old want to live where they don’t need to rely on a car to get around and are telling community and business leaders that in order to continue to grow and sustain themselves they need to prioritize walking and bicycling. Detroit Lakes is Minnesota’s most recent BFC to be ranked by the League of American Bicyclists. Fergus Falls, Duluth, and Minneapolis lead the way with BFB’s, and Walker has the honor of the most per capita in the nation, and Willmar added a couple more in 2020. We think that all of the 32 BFC’s, and the many others working on a ranking, are great places to live and have a business. Your support makes it possible for BikeMN to assist communities and businesses all around the state with their Bicycle Friendly and active transportation plans, goals, and strategies.
Virtual Events & A New Website
Keep an eye out for the launch of our new website in early 2021. We’re really excited that we’ll have a ton of event information, education resources, engagement opportunities, member features, and more all in an easily navigable, mobile-friendly, and engaging format in one location on the web. In 2020, we hosted a variety of virtual events to connect with supporters across Minnesota. Including Chain Chats focused on cargo bikes and strategies to prevent bike theft, Book Clubs to deepen our understanding of bicycling as a hobby, sport, and mode of transportation, Coffee Chats to provide updates throughout this unpredictable year, and Trivia to give away prizes and have fun! We are excited to continue finding new ways to connect with supporters on these topics and more in the new year.
In our twelve year history, BikeMN has never experienced a year quite like 2020. We’ve heard from our partners and supporters like you that our work has never been more important. Will you support BikeMN this year and contribute to making Minnesota a friendlier place for people to walk and bike?
In our twelve-year history, we’ve yet to experience a year quite like 2020. Our work may look a little different, but our commitment to making Minnesota a friendlier place for all to walk and bike endures. Your contribution to BikeMN supports these motives — equity and access, public and individual health, our environment, safety & education, trails & infrastructure, economic vitality, and, of course, the sense of adventure that can always be found biking and walking around our great state. We believe our work to be invaluable, and we hope the reasons above have encouraged you to come along for the ride. No matter where you are from, the Twin Cities Metro, Roseau, Marshall, Grand Marais, or Rochester, the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota will continue working toward better, easier, and safer ways to move for you.
Your contribution supports a simply better Minnesota in which to bike, walk, and roll. We could not do this without you.
Thank you for keeping us moving forward.