Kenny residents aim to boost neighborhood cycling

Bill Dooley (l) and John Bablitch are among a group of Kenny residents working to support biking in the neighborhood. Credit: Michelle Bruch

If bike traffic takes a jump in Kenny, you might need to thank the neighborhood’s new cycling advocates, who have been meeting informally since the fall.

Group members have tracked the 54th Street reconstruction project to advocate for bike safety. They’re approaching bike shops in hopes to draw them to 54th & Lyndale. And they’re planning social events for warmer weather.

“It’s more of an outreach effort to create more interest in biking for all types of people,” said John Bablitch, who lives on the same street as fellow cyclist and group member Jonathan Banks. The group started with an offhand block club comment that it would be great to have more support for biking, or perhaps a bike shop, in Kenny. A network of cycling enthusiasts soon formed with the addition of neighborhood residents Nancy Hoyt Taff, Bill Dooley and Thatcher Imboden.

Bablitch said he wants to encourage more biking for the elderly, mothers and kids — not just the guys on fast bikes navigating heavy traffic. He’d love to see Minneapolis skew toward Amsterdam’s lifestyle, where it’s not uncommon to see mothers on bikes with kids in baskets.

“You don’t really see many people biking on errands,” Bablitch said.

He also envisions group rides that leave from Kenny.

“So many people in the neighborhood are interested in the topic,” said Imboden.

One of them is Dooley, a winter biker who serves as the Ward 13 rep to the Minneapolis Bicycle Advisory Committee. He also volunteers on the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition’s Diversity Task Force and the Major Taylor Minnesota Bicycling Club, which is an African-American cycling club named after the first black world champion cyclist in 1899. Dooley would like to ensure that African-Americans riding bikes aren’t unfairly stopped by police, and advance a more equitable Nice Ride system to encourage ridership by low-income residents.

During the 54th Street design process, Dooley also advocated for bike safety. The project will include bike lanes running in both directions from Lyndale to Penn, with shared bike lanes between Penn and Oliver. The street will be reconstructed in 2016 and 2017.