Impressed with recent efforts to improve bicycling opportunities in Minneapolis and St. Paul, federal officials on Monday joined state and local leaders, planners, designers, engineers and bicycling enthusiasts to talk about ways to make riding two-wheelers safer and encourage more people to hop on their bikes.
More than 250 people attended the Midwest Regional Bicycle Safety Summit at the Commons Hotel on the University of Minnesota campus to address the important role biking can play in cities looking to reduce congestion on roads, improve air quality, promote health benefits of biking and talk about new innovations being made to make biking a more safe and pleasant experience.
In the past five years, the Twin Cities has added miles of on-street bike lanes and built bicycle boulevards such as the one on Bryant Avenue in south Minneapolis and on 15th Avenue near the University of Minnesota. The boulevards are designed with amenities such as road dividers and speed bumps and slower speeds that make streets less desirable for motor vehicles but advantageous for bicycles.
Mayor R.T. Rybak, National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator David Strickland, U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, Minnesota Department of Transportation Commissioner Charles Zelle led a 3-mile bike ride through Minneapolis to show off those features and plans for future improvements as part of an expo and bike safety rally.
"We want to learn what the Twin Cities has done and bring that to other communities," said Strickland, applauding the efforts that have made the Twin Cities one of the top biking cities in America. "You have friends, allies and partners at the Department of Transportation."
The bike ride followed a morning of breakout sessions which featured speakers from local and national organizations and agencies, including Nice Ride Minnesota, Bike Walk Twin Cities, the League of American Bicyclists, Bike Alliance Minnesota, the National Conference of State Legislatures and video message from U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar and Representative Keith Ellison spoke during the rally.