04/04/11

Biking, Walking & Blogging: Minnesota – Leading the Nation in Bike Friendly Businesses

 

From Joan Pasiuk, Director, Bike Walk Twin Cities

 

While it's true that not every riding experience attests that Minnesota is getting friendlier to bicyclists nor are all the pieces fully in place for safe, convenient, widespread access to a world-class two-wheel transportation system, we can stand back and admire some great progress! Minnesota's commitment to bicycling-through policies and ordinances, planning, street and trail investments, incentive programs, citizen input, traffic safety, bicycle parking and storage, connections to transit, mapping, design standards-all add up to big improvements.

 

Allow yourself a brief armchair tour of some new awards announced in the past few weeks via the League of American Bicyclists (LAB)'s rigorous "Bicycle Friendly America" program, which sets the bar for best practices and celebrates those who meet it. The program recognizes Bicycle Friendly Communities, States, Businesses, and (new this year) Universities.

In the Bicycle Friendly State rankings, Minnesota is #4 - a step up from #5 in the previous year and bested only by Washington, Wisconsin, and Maine. According to the scoring, we excel in evaluation and planning and have most room to improve with enforcement. In all other categories (legislation, policies and programs, infrastructure, education and encouragement) we rate a solid "B."

Focusing on the Bike Walk Twin Cities nonmotorized transportation pilot area, Minneapolis scores as a Bicycle Friendly Community at the silver level. The City received this recognition in 2008. With three platinum and ten gold communities ahead of us from across the nation, we are far back in the pack at by LAB standards. Not that I'm competitive or anything. We know that Minneapolis and even Saint Paul would grace the top of the charts just fine. What will it take to get there? Check out the qualifications and see how we could move ahead.

Most exciting to me are the strides with Bike Friendly Businesses and the new category - Bike Friendly University. Kudos to the University of Minnesota for winning silver status in the latter category! U leadership has been building a well-planned and well-integrated bike/walk campus. BWTC has certainly had our eye on this trip generator (51,000 students, 16,000 staff and faculty, and 15,000 daily visitors), funding at least ten street and trail projects providing improved bike/walk connectivity to the Minneapolis and St. Paul campuses, as well as bicycle sharing, the radio frequency tracking system for travel incentives, and a new bike/walk center. The U is well poised to become a campus sustainable transportation superstar. 

Minnesota has the most Bicycle Friendly Businesses across the country. Congratulations to all winners, especially new 2011 Bike Friendly Businesses: City of Minneapolis and Clockwork Active Media Systems. These businesses promote bicycling to their more than 43,000 employees as well as countless clients and patrons. The LAB web site includes many inspiring stories about local businesses as change agents. My favorite story is still an award winner from last year - a six-employee retail shop that sells, of all things, hand-made violins. The commitment of Fein Violins, Ltd to bicycling as transportation will be music to your ears. A full list of winners is below; please patronize and acknowledge these employers. For more information or to get your business on track for a bicycle friendly award, contact the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota.

 

Minnesota's Bicycle Friendly Businesses 2011

PLATINUM

Quality Bicycle Products

 

GOLD

City of Minneapolis

Dero Bike Rack Company

 

SILVER

Erik's Bike Shop

Peace Coffee

Penn Cycle

University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

 

BRONZE

Ameriprise Financial Corporate Hdqtrs

Birchwood Cafe

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of MN

Capella University

Carmichael Lynch

Clockwork Active Media Systems

Colle + McVoy

Fein Violins, Ltd.

Fresh Energy

Great River Energy

The Green Institute

IBM Rochester, MN

Mr. Michael Recycles Bicycles

Park Tool

Ramsey County 

Spyeglass