Transit for Livable Communities awarding grants to make neighborhoods more bike and pedestrian friendly

A federally funded initiative to get people out of their cars and onto their feet will continue with additional investments in current infrastructure, future planning and an educational campaign.

Transit for Livable Communities, a local nonprofit, is charged with administering the Non-Motorized Transportation Pilot Program, also known as Bike/Walk Twin Cities. The program, now in its second year, aims to curb the amount of traffic on the highway by boosting the use of sidewalks and bicycles as means of transportation.

The federal pilot program provides $25 million to each of four communities through 2010. Among them are: Columbia, Mo.; Marin County, Calif.; Minneapolis; and Sheboygan County, Wis. Minneapolis and its 14 bordering municipalities, as well as Hennepin and Ramsey counties, are eligible to compete for project funding.

“Right now the application process is open, so many of these eligible communities are developing project ideas,” said Joan Pasiuk, program director of the Bike/Walk Twin Cities initiative.

The review board would accept new requests for funding until April 29 and would award up to $5 million to proposals that make pedestrian and biking-friendly improvements to urban streets, Pasiuk said.

Since its start, the program has awarded $7 million to develop 36 miles of new biking and walking corridors throughout Minneapolis. Additionally, the city of Minneapolis received $200,000 to implement new bike racks — a project that will begin this year.

“Increasing opportunities for Twin Cities residents to bike and walk gets more cars off the road, ultimately helping us address climate change and help relieve the growth of traffic congestion,” Pasiuk said.