BikeMN Staff Dorian and Maya recently presented to planners, and city and county staff across the Upper Minnesota River Valley. The opportunity to connect with people across the region came about thanks to the work of the Upper Minnesota River Valley Regional Development Commission (UMVRDC), which enable the region to thrive by assisting local units of government in Big Stone, Swift, Chippewa, Lac qui Parie and Yellow Medicine counties. A few participants in the meeting were largely from Montevideo and Granite Falls in Chippewa County, where there is a big regional push to finish a spur of trail that would follow the river through the state of Minnesota. Another participant from Swift County is excited about mountain bike trails in the region, too.
For the Upper Minnesota River Valley, being bike friendly promotes health and wellness, active living, and livable communities. Routes and paths that support biking and walking are assets that support residents and bring in bike-minded tourists! With three scenic byways, fishing, prairie hiking, camping, canoeing, and tons of wildlife, the region is a bicyclist’s dream!
Bicycle Friendly Community recognition is a nationally recognized thumbs-up. The program is administered by the League of American Bicyclists and commends towns, cities, counties, and metropolitan areas for taking concrete steps toward making bicycling safer, more visible, and more fun in their communities. BikeMN is able to support local, county, and regional staff, community leaders, and advocates on how to plan and support Bike Friendly Communities to encourage more people to be on bikes. One way BikeMN can help communities is through our Bicycle Community Workshop program, which supports this work through discussion, presentations, on-bike mobile workshops, and asset mapping to support local or regional action plans.
“For communities in this region, being walkable and bikeable is always a priority, but many struggle with how to make these activities safe. The Bicycle Friendly Community program is a great tool for all communities – large and small – to help citizens and local leaders work together to build long-lasting solutions,” said Searle, a Community Development Specialist with the Upper Minnesota River Valley Regional Development Commission.
Another important aspect of the Bicycle Friendly America program is Bicycle Friendly Businesses. In Minnesota, Bicycle Friendly Businesses are economic boosts in communities large and small, support tourism, and can increase employee health and well-being. Communities like Fergus Falls have been recognized as having one of the most Bicycle Friendly Businesses per capita in the nation!
Minnesota is in the top five most Bicycle Friendly States in the nation, with 34 Bicycle Friendly Communities, 117 Bicycle Friendly Businesses, and 7 Bicycle Friendly Universities. There are more than 2 million Minnesotans who live in Bicycle Friendly Communities alone! The exciting initiatives of these communities are helping Minnesota become the most bicycle-friendly state in America. We can’t wait to see what bike and people-friendly initiatives and programs come out of the Upper Minnesota River Valley region!