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[MINNEAPOLIS, MN] – Stillwater is Minnesota’s most recent city to be recognized as a Bicycle Friendly Community (BFC) by the League of American Bicyclists (LAB), scoring a bronze award. Jackson, Minnesota, moved up in the BFC ranks from bronze to silver, making strides in their bicycle friendliness since they received their bronze award just a few years ago in 2018. Minnesota, the third most bicycle-friendly state in the U.S., now boasts 33 BFCs throughout the state.
The bronze BFC award recognizes Stillwater’s commitment to improving conditions for bicycling through investment in bicycling promotion, education programs, infrastructure, and pro-bicycling policies. Jackson, Minnesota, took measures like partnering with local schools to update and take steps toward implementation of their Safe Routes to School Plan, developing a bicycle and pedestrian counting system, and working to develop a business incentive program to move up from a bronze award to silver-award. The Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota (BikeMN) has been working in partnership with the Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP), local advocates, and others in Stillwater, Jackson, and other communities that are pursuing BFC rankings for more than ten years.
“The City of Stillwater is very pleased to have received a Bicycle Friendly Community ranking,” says Tom McCarty, the Stillwater City Administrator. “The City has worked hard in partnership with community groups, MnDOT, Minnesota DNR, and others, including our neighbors in Wisconsin, to make Stillwater a bicycling destination and a great place for our community members and visitors to ride and recreate. The City will continue to its efforts to prioritize making it safer and easier to walk and bike for all. Stillwater appreciates the recognition of all these collective efforts.”
“I love the trails in Jackson and walk or bike them several times a week,” said Lynne Anderson of the Friends of the Jackson County Trails. “We have been working on trail development for many years in Jackson and this recognition as a Bike Friendly Community at the Silver Level by the League of Bicyclists and BikeMN is very rewarding! In the past couple of years, we have seen great successes with Safe Route to Schools grants and the grant for Belmont County Park Off-Road Trail. It is the result of cooperation by the City of Jackson, County of Jackson, community leaders, businesses and chamber, Statewide Health Improvement Partnership, and volunteers. Thanks for the recognition as a BFC in Minnesota!”
“We are excited to have been upgraded from Bronze to Silver! This is reflective of all of the hard work of the community and this designation will help aid in our efforts to become a day trip destination for tourists and create an environment that helps foster a healthy, active lifestyle for our residents. Of course, our work is not done. We have plans to partner with the local Chamber of Commerce, local businesses, Friends of the Jackson County Trails, healthcare providers, and others to better engage our businesses and all sectors of our community to capitalize on this distinction, improve our bicycle infrastructure, and better utilize our infrastructure already in place,” said Matt Skaret, Jackson City Administrator.
Congratulations also go to the cities of St. Paul who renewed their silver-level Bicycle Friendly Community Status and to St. Cloud who renewed at the bronze level.
“I’ve been riding my bike in St. Paul for more than 40 years,” said Dorian Grilley, BikeMN’s Executive Director. “The City has added state of the art protected bikeways in downtown and along Wheelock Parkway, Como Avenue, and Ayd Mill Road just this year. The City of St. Paul and schools have collaborated in recent years on an excellent safe routes program that includes an education curriculum. It is clear to me that St. Paul is one of the most bicycle-friendly places in the country, and I hope to support their efforts in the next round of BFC applications.”
“I ride my bicycle because it’s fun,” said Kurt Franke, retired St. Cloud firefighter and local advocate. “My bike takes me where I want to go: economically, efficiently, with consideration for our environment, while allowing for a certain amount of exercise as well. I ride my bike because it’s just a smart way to get around.”
“In 2017, the concept of creating a more Bikeable Friendly Community was introduced to us by the Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP). We then started this journey with the City of Jackson and a handful of technical assistant providers including the SW Regional Development Commission and the Park/Trail Council of Minnesota. After receiving the BFC Bronze-level award and report card, we went to work checking off goals on the report including having a local resident go through League Cycling Instructor (LCI) training, partnering with JCC Schools to update their Safe Routes to School Plan, developing a pedestrian/bicycling counting program, creating active living videos for our YouTube channel, working on grants to expand trail development including the Belmont County Park Single-Track Park, and building relationships with businesses to develop a bicycle incentive program,” said Luke Ewald with Des Moines Valley Health and Human Services. “We hope the next four years will be just as great, if not better, than the past four years as we make Jackson more bike-friendly!”
“BikeMN enjoys working alongside communities and local advocates seeking to grow their local bike culture, programs, and infrastructure and provides recommendations to help them create a dynamic system that is welcoming for people who use bikes for transportation and recreation,” said Natalie Gille, Greater Minnesota Program Manager with BikeMN. “With each award level achieved, communities deepen their commitment to creating a healthier and safer community as a draw for folks who are looking for vibrant places to live and work. Each community that receives an award must first meet certain requirements and it often takes many years to qualify for the bronze award level. BikeMN is thrilled to see Stillwater on the board this round and Jackson continue their bicycle-friendly momentum by moving up in the ranks.”
MnDOT’s Economic and Health Benefits of Bicycling show that bicycling creates significant revenue and jobs for our state. It brings tourists (and their pocketbooks) to towns for community rides and scenic adventures. Bicycling keeps Minnesotans healthy and hearty. Small infrastructure projects like trails and sidewalks create nearly double the number of jobs per dollar spent than big highway projects. Cities throughout the state are working on plans to make biking and walking in their communities safer and more convenient for all, including youth to walk and bike to school.
About the BFC Award Program:
More than 850 communities have applied for recognition by the Bicycle Friendly Community program, which provides a roadmap to making biking better for communities of all shapes and sizes. While the award process considers very visible elements such as bike infrastructure, other essential elements include efforts around adult and youth bike education, encouragement through events like Bike to Work Day and other promotions, evaluation mechanisms and planning, and community engagement, all looked at through the lens of equity. The rigorous application process is an educational tool in itself and includes an opportunity for local bicyclists and active transportation advocates to provide input on their experiences and perceptions of bicycling in their community.
The five levels of the BFC award – diamond, platinum, gold, silver, and bronze, plus an honorable mention category – provide a clear incentive for communities to continuously improve. Awarded communities must renew their status every four years to ensure that they not only maintain existing efforts, but also keep up with changing technology, national safety standards, and community-driven best practices.
To learn more about the BFC program, visit bikeleague.org/community.
More about BikeMN:
The Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota (BikeMN) engages people, provides education, and advocates for biking and walking across Minnesota. We envision a Minnesota where every person everywhere can easily walk, bike, and roll as ways to move in daily life. To implement their mission and vision, BikeMN helps communities throughout the state plan and implement strategies to achieve a BFC ranking by providing education, encouragement, and engagement programs and events, planning advice, and infrastructure ideas. Visit www.bikemn.org to learn more about local advocacy around Minnesota.