Bike/Walk Twin Cities awarded $7.3 million in funding

Dozens of Minneapolis neighborhoods will see new bike boulevards and signs along busy and nonarterial streets. For example, 3.23 miles of Bryant Avenue South will have bike paths, "no passing cyclists" signs, and 25 mph speed limits; 1st and Blaisdell Avenues will have 5.78 miles of bike lanes and possible 25 mph speed limits; and a route along Franklin Avenue will connect with Bryant, 1st and Blaisdell Avenues, stretching all the way into St. Paul.

The program is part of a national Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program administered by TLC in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration. The project began in 2005 as part of the federal transportation bill SAFETEA-LU, which was also backed by Congressman Oberstar. It spans four states and has a budget of $21.5 million.

Neighborhood association representatives, local businesses, elected officials and citizen activists were allowed input in Bike/Walk Twin Cities funding decisions. "[TLC] was committed to developing a decision-making process that incorporated transparency and accountability into funding allocation decisions," said Communications Associate Katie Eukel in a prepared statement.

Mayor R.T. Rybak spoke at the June 7 press conference, in which the $7.3 million funding was announced. He recalled a bike ride that he took with Congressman Oberstar and noted that, as mayor, he hasn’t turned down any requests for bike trails from Public Works. Rybak called Minneapolis the most prepared city in the nation to move people out of their cars and onto their feet and bikes. "We want to be the number one bike city in America," he said.

Bike/Walk Twin Cities hopes to have an impact on global climate change, obesity and oil dependence. According to TLC Executive Director Lea Schuster, they’re trying to help prepare the Twin Cities for a post-automobile world.

TLC has a history of advocating for livability among bikers in Minneapolis. Since 1996, the organization has increased bike parking, worked with Metro Transit to improve connections and helped fund numerous related projects. Currently, they have 71 proposals asking for a total of $28 million in support, and have awarded funds to 31 projects.