Biking and walking counts chart rise since ’07
An annual count conducted on Twin Cities streets recorded 33 percent more bicyclists and 17 percent more walkers last fall than in 2007, the first year data was collected, Bike Walk Twin Cities reported in March.
One Southwest survey point saw the fourth-greatest increase in bicyclists during four years of data collection at dozens of points on Twin Cities streets. Bicycle traffic on the Midtown Greenway west of Hennepin Avenue was up 79 percent since 2007.
In its report, Bike Walk Twin Cities credited the increase in bicyclists to growing awareness of cycling as a transportation option, a strong local cycling community and a busy calendar of bike-related events.
A program of the nonprofit Transit for Livable Communities, Bike Walk Twin Cities’ work is funded by the federal Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program. The Twin Cities was one of four communities to recieve $22 million in Federal Highway Administration funds to pay for local bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure enhancements.
Bike Walk Twin Cities also provided start-up funding to Nice Ride Minnesota, the local bike-sharing program, which the report cited as another factor putting more bicycles on area streets.
Thirty Hennepin County residents will be offered the opportunity to join the county’s new Master Recycler/Composter program this spring.
The county aims to produce knowledgeable volunteers who will advocate for waste reduction in their communities. The training program runs for two months, after which the volunteers must perform 30 hours of community service activities, such as staffing event booths or designing and implementing waste-reduction plans for schools and businesses.
Those who successfully complete the training and community service will be certified Master Recycler/Composters.
Spring courses are 6 p.m.–9 p.m. every Tuesday April 12–May 24 and will be held at the Hennepin County Environmental Services Building, 417 N. 5th St. Two optional field trips were scheduled for 11 a.m.–3 p.m. April 29 and 11 a.m.–3 p.m. May 13.
Environmental professionals from both the public and private sectors will teach the classes, the county reported. Course topics included: waste prevention; recycling processes; alternatives to hazardous household products; organics recycling and home composting; deconstruction and green building equipment; and public engagement.
More information, as well as an online application form, can be found at hennepin.us/volunteer. Click on “volunteer opportunities” and then scroll down to “Master Recyclers/Composters.”
The training program costs $30 and will be limited to 30 participants. If the course fills, additional applicants will be placed on a waiting list for future sessions.
Going dark for Earth Hour
People and communities around the globe plan to turn off the lights for one hour at 8:30 p.m. March 26 to mark the fifth annual Earth Hour.
The City of Minneapolis joined in the program for three years beginning in 2008, shutting off all lights in municipal buildings that weren’t needed for critical life, safety and security functions, although there was no indication of whether it would officially join Earth Hour 2011 when this issue of the Southwest Journal went to press. The first Earth Hour was held in Sydney, Australia, in 2007, and by last year the event had grown to include participants in 128 countries.
Locally, the nonprofit Cool Planet planned an event marking both Earth Hour and the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps, with Peace Corps veterans from across the metro area expected to gather in Edina’s Weber Field Park, 4115 Grimes Ave. S., just across France Avenue from Southwest. The event runs 7–8:30 p.m. March 26, and will include music, poetry and refreshments.
To learn more about Earth Hour, go to earthhour.org.
Greening city vehicles
The City of Minneapolis adopted a new green fleet policy in March that aims to reduce total greenhouse gas emissions produced by city vehicles.
The policy sets new standards for reducing both fuel consumption and tailpipe emissions from city vehicles. If applied successfully, it could help the city meet environmental goals while at the same time reducing the short- and long-term costs of maintaining city vehicles, the city reported.
The new policy directs city officials to develop a baseline inventory against which future emissions reductions will be measured. The inventory will include the total number of city vehicles, annual miles driven, total greenhouse gas emissions, other tailpipe emissions, the quantities and types of fuels consumed and fuel costs.
The policy also direct the city’s Fleet Services Division to recommend possible fleet reductions. A new Green Fleet Team will oversee implementation of the policy.
The city reported cars and trucks are the largest contributors to local air pollution and are also significant sources of the greenhouse gases linked to global warming.