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Bikes Belong gathering in Minneapolis highlights city's bicycle integration

Earlier this month, a group of transportation and policy leaders from Pittsburgh, Penn., and Columbus, Ohio, came to Minneapolis to check out its growing bicycle network as a part of a Bikes Belong Foundation workshop.

Gary Sjoquist, government affairs director for Bikes Belong, a national organization that works to increase bicycling, says that it has led similar workshops in Boulder, Colo. and Portland, Ore., "places where there've been significant changes to increase bicycling." 

The group, which is planning another get-together in New York City in the fall, also hosts international tours in cities such as Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and Munster, Germany, where 40 percent of all trips are taken by bicycle.

When people attend the workshops, "they get to experience it, ride it, and philosophically understand what's going on," he says.

Often a city official will think that developing bicycling infrastructure is a low priority because participation won't be high enough. By coming to Minneapolis or another city, "they can see how bicycling has been integrated and implement what they've seen," he says.  

Those who visited Minneapolis got to see that "what it's like when there are more vehicles on a bike trail than cars on a street nearby, like on certain parts of the greenway," he says.

By the Walker Art Center, where 15th Street intersects with Hennepin Avenue South near Loring Park, the bike lane goes from the street to the sidewalk. "Cyclists can do a left turn on a busy intersection to reach the bike trail," he says. "It's unique to move the bike lane to the sidewalk. I don't think there's any other treatment like it in the U.S."    

Only blocks away, near First Avenue, the bike lane is placed between the line of parked cars and the curb. "That's a lesson from Amsterdam, to move the bike lane to where there are fewer doors opening. It makes for smoother riding for the cyclist," he explains.

Additionally, Minneapolis's bicycle network will grow by 40 percent over the next couple of years, as a related $25 million federal grant continues to be spent. "That's another thing that really struck people who came," he says. "Minneapolis is pretty good in this area, but it will get a lot better once [more] is built." 

Source: Gary Sjoquist, government affairs director, Bikes Belong
Writer: Anna Pratt

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