02/28/11

More Bike/Walk Investments!More Bike/Walk Investments!

From Joan Pasiuk, Bike Walk Twin Cities Director

On February 25th, 2011, the Transit for Livable Communities Board approved funding for new and expanded projects. The new funding covers a smorgasbord of improvements—walking and bicycling,  city andsuburb, addressing safety, access, and connections to transit…

  • The City of Fridley, drawing from its recently completed draft bicycle/pedestrian plan, identified an important network gap between the Northstar Rail Station and communities to the south. The BWTC award of $110,000 complements the City’s investment of $67,000 and will fund improvements, sidewalks and bike lanes, on Main Street from 57th Avenue to 61st Avenue. (Note: Bike parking along this project area and other locations in the community will be available through the new BWTC bike parking program.) Fridley, a suburban community of about 26,000, regards this as a flagship project moving toward more comprehensive “complete streets” development. Fridley has established a transit-oriented development (TOD) district, linking denser residential areas and commercial nodes with transportation options. Work along Main Street is planned to build momentum for this corridor and others, adding streetscape and development as the TOD district takes shape. Fridley’s holistic city planning understands the value of biking/walking/and connections-to-transit investments.

 

  • Over several years, the Seward neighborhood in Minneapolis has engaged the community to derive goals, concerns, and priorities for the neighborhood’s development. This urban area is home to diverse populations including many East African residents --25% of the Seward population self identifies as foreign born. The grassroots work was fostered by Redesign Inc, Seward Neighborhood Group, and Seward Civic and Commerce Association. To bring the neighborhood vision to fruition, the City of Minneapolis will receive $62,000 to address pedestrian safety issues at four key intersections (23rd to 26th Avenues) on Franklin Avenue with countdown timers, marked crosswalks, and curb extensions and possibly bicycle lanes. Taking advantage of work happening this summer by Hennepin County, the funds will enable a model treatment to influence the length of this critical corridor. This is an exciting project for enhancing walking and bicycling, including connections to transit, in a vibrant inner-city community.

 

  • The largest new award is to Nice Ride Minnesota. The Transit for Livable Communities board allocated $1 million for expansion of the bicycle sharing program, enabling more coverage in Minneapolis as well as establishing the program in St. Paul. The funds from Transit for Livable Communities/Bike Walk Twin Cities will leverage matching funds from continued sponsor Blue Cross/Blue Shield and augment new funding sources, including $250,000 from the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative. Nice Ride’s first year saw individuals shifting from car trips to bicycling trips. A -- survey of annual subscribers indicated that 20% of trips via Nice Ride would have been taken in a car. Expansion will certainly increase the transportation significance of the system, and the popular neon-green bikes will have new territory beginning this spring.


The Transit for Livable Communities board reinforced the commitment of Bike Walk Twin Cities funds to address transportation, cultural, and economic equity, urging the City of Minneapolis to find a successful conclusion to the proposed Bike Walk Center and pledging Bike Walk Twin Cities finances and collaboration toward improved bike/walk access in North Minneapolis. Also, the Board indicated reconsideration of a community bike center proposed in the Seward neighborhood along the LRT Trail, pending further refinement of the proposal.

This funding announcement concludes the first of two capital funding windows in 2011. Still to unfold this year: new work focusing on training and enforcement; rollout of several initiatives at the neighborhood level; and an intensive process to develop plans for at least ten new bike/walk projects.