GREEN DIGEST // Neighborhoods help with purchasing bike racks

THE WEDGE — The Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition is teaming with two neighborhoods to help property owners save big on bicycle rack installations.

Property owners in Lowry Hill and Lowry Hill East, better known as The Wedge, can save up to 75 percent on bike rack installations. Each neighborhood is offering property owners a 25-percent match on the cost of the racks, which, when added to a 50-percent match already offered through a city program, brings the cost to install each rack down to about $50–55, said Janne Flisrand, a volunteer with the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition, a local bike advocacy group.

Flisrand heads up the coalition’s bike-parking action group, which aims to “tame the bikes,” she said.

Flisrand said the program aims to reduce visual clutter on streets where bicycles are locked to street signs, trees, handrails and anything else that will take a bicycle lock. (While locking your ride to a street sign is OK, city ordinance prohibits locking bikes to parking meters, trees, handrails, light posts and traffic signal stanchions.)

Flisrand worked with the Lowry Hill East and Lowry Hill neighborhood associations to arrange the cost-sharing programs in those neighborhoods, but the city matching dollars are available to private property owners across the city. The city program targets business and nonprofit buildings and apartment complexes.

To learn more about the city program, go to ci.minneapolis.mn.us/bicycles and click on “Bicycle Parking” in the left-hand column.

Property owners in Lowry Hill and Lowry Hill East should contact Flisrand by email ([email protected]) by Dec. 15 for the best chance to get a rack installed soon. There are limited funds available in the city program, so some applicants may be placed on a waiting list, she said.

The city funds may not be available for installation of bicycle racks in out-of-the-way locations, like behind an apartment building. In those cases, the Lowry Hill and Lowry Hill East neighborhood associations may be willing to match up to 50 percent of the cost of installation, which is typically about $200–220 per rack, Flisrand said.

She said about 50 property owners participated in an earlier round of the matching-fund program. They’re getting hitching post-style racks, a post topped with a loop that holds up to two bikes.

Other neighborhood organizations interested in starting a similar matching fund program should contact Flisrand. To learn more about her organization, go to mplsbike.org.

Recycle old holiday lights

If you haven’t yet, chances are soon you will head up to the attic, grab a dusty cardboard box, open it up and discover a Gordian Knot of broken and burnt-out holiday lights.

The Recycling Association of Minnesota is once again offering to take that tangle of green wiring and bulbs off your hands for free. Just drop off your old strings of holiday lights at any participating Ace Hardware location, including six in Southwest alone, any time through Jan. 13.

Recycling Association of Minnesota collected more than 100,000 pounds of holiday lights last season, more than double its goal. This year, it’s aiming to collect 200,000 light strands and to encourage more Minnesotans to switch to low-energy LED holiday lights.

One of the project partners, Clean Energy Resource Teams, reports recycling the copper wiring in holiday lights requires significantly less energy — about 10 percent — than is required to extract new copper from mines.

Participating Southwest-area Ace Hardware stores include: Frattalone’s Ace Hardware, 1804 Nicollet Ave. and 2737 Hennepin Ave.; Nicollet Hardware, 3805 Nicollet Ave.; Bayers Do It Best Hardware, 4312 Upton Ave. S.; Settergren Hardware, 5405 Penn Ave. S.; and Diamond Lake Hardware, 5425 Nicollet Ave.

To find other locations, or to learn more about the recycling project, go to act.mncerts.org and click on “Holiday Light Recycling” on the left-hand side of the page, under “Projects.”

Stay bright on your bike

It’s that time of year again when the sun has set before many people have left the office for the day. If you’re still bicycle commuting, we have two things to say: one, brrr; and, two, check your lights.

That second message actually comes from Bike Walk Twin Cities, which reminded cyclists a few weeks before the winter solstice that it was a good time to check or replace old bicycle lights. Lights make bicyclists more visible to motorists after dark, and a front headlamp, at least, is required for nighttime riding under state law.

Data collected by Bike Walk Twin Cities indicates about 36 percent of cyclists continue to ride “on a nice winter day,” the organization reported, although the definition of a nice winter day is surely debatable.

Bike Walk Twin Cities is a program of Transit for Livable Communities, a nonprofit advocating for “a balanced transportation system.”