Today: Dorian Grilley, executive director of Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota, aka BikeMN. The group’s legislative agenda will be front and center March 5 at the Minnesota Bike Walk Summit at the Capitol in St. Paul.
As an advocate for making biking and walking easy, safe and fun, it is all I can do to keep up with the news and relevant research. With the Legislature in session, my priority is to keep up with who is saying good things about biking and walking in communities throughout the state, who is not, and why. BikeMN annually sponsors the Bike Walk Summit, and I need to arm myself and advocates with solid arguments we can use to encourage our state and local elected officials to invest more in biking and walking, especially safe-routes-to-school programs and infrastructure. I have studied transportation, climate, public health and community sustainability issues enough to realize that biking and walking are not the only solutions to our challenges. A favorite recent read was the climate edition of Lapham’s Quarterly. The essays showing the evolution of our understanding and observations of climate recently, and over the past several millennia, were fascinating.
I stay in touch with local governments, in particular what their mayors are saying. I find mayors to be close to their constituents and have a good understanding of their community’s needs. To deepen BikeMN’s relationship with communities, it worked with the Minnesotans for Healthy Kids Coalition to create the Minnesota Mayoral Active Transportation Caucus a few years ago. The caucus, co-chaired by mayors Maria Regan Gonzalez of Richfield, Jed Shaw of Walker, and Kim Norton of Rochester, has adopted the simple messages that walking and biking are as important in small towns and the suburbs as they are in the urban core and that sustainable funding for active transportation should be a part of any transportation funding package passed in St. Paul.
Throughout the year much of what I watch, when I’m not working, is from the seat of a bike or while on Nordic skis. Last weekend we had a mini-family reunion. Our son from Denver and our daughter, who is a junior at the University of Minnesota, joined my wife, Margie, and me in traveling to Hayward for Birkie weekend. To stay in shape for skiing 50 kilometers, I try to ski several times a week. But, biking is still what I enjoy the most. A favorite recent adventure was to ride from here to Washington, D.C., with my son while he was attending college there. We rode a weeklong, 400-to-600 mile leg at a time for three summers. Needless to say there was a lot to see along the way.
My largest source of news is National and Minnesota Public Radio. But Margie and I also enjoy a variety of music. Last month we did something that we had never done. We went on cruise — the Outlaw Country Cruise. We attended five or six concerts a day for five days and did a lot of walking on the ship. By the end we were exhausted, but we had a great time and loved the music and, I have to admit, the warm weather.
We live near White Bear Lake. When it is frozen, I’m always watching for days and occasional longer snow-free periods when it is possible to sail my iceboat. When the lake is snow-covered, it makes for a great dog park. When it is not frozen, I like to fish there and on the St. Croix, where the bird-watching and scenery are amazing.