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Minneapolis looks to make bike commuting easier

In recent years, Minneapolis has earned a solid reputation as a bike-friendly city.  

The city’s 12-member Bicycle Advisory Committee is just one of many groups that are working to ensure that the city is attuned to the needs of bicyclists.

Recently, the body made a recommendation that city officials broaden an ordinance that requires large downtown developments to provide certain amenities for bicyclists, according to City Council member Gary Schiff, who represents the ninth ward.

Under the ordinance, which dates back to 2001, new projects of 500,000 square feet or more need to have a number of bicycle parking stalls, showers, and lockers.

The problem is that buildings with the same height and scale outside of the business district are left out of the equation, he says.  

This has put off some potential bike commuters. “The number-one deterrent, when people are asked, is a lack of facilities at work to shower and change,” Schiff says, citing various surveys of residents.

One place where he has seen that happen is Coloplast, a medical device company that received city funding to build its headquarters in North Minneapolis.

Even though a bike path is visible from the building, Coloplast employees “still don’t find it convenient without an available facility to use,” he says. This is because the building, which lies outside of the business district, wasn’t required to have bike facilities, he says.

To address that, the Bicycle Advisory Committee would like to see big buildings across the city adhere to the same guidelines as downtown developments. The possibility will be introduced to the full City Council at its next meeting on February 8.

Schiff is an advocate for the recommendation. “This is all about making bike commuting easier,” he says.

Source: Gary Schiff, Minneapolis City Council member  
Writer: Anna Pratt

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