Workshops try to make city more bikeable

The end of winter will bring out more than 10,000 bikers to Twin Cities streets.

Joy Petersen

Bearded, clothing-layered and spattered with mud: These are the characteristics of Minneapolis biker Steve Cayford.

“There are some really hardcore bikers,” Cayford, a Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs master’s student, said. “I would call myself hardcore. I think it’s just that people have the impression that if it’s cold out, you must be freezing when you’re on a bike.”

As the spring thaw brings out an anticipated 10,000 Twin Cities bikers, Bike/Walk Twin Cities, hosted by Transit for Livable Communities, geared up this week with workshops and forums on making the city more bikeable.

Joan Pasiuk, the director of Bike/Walk Twin Cities, said the $21.5 million federally funded pilot is in its second year.

The workshops detailed converting streets into boulevards where more walking and biking traffic could occur.

As for University-area projects, the city of Minneapolis allotted $2.5 million to connect the No. 9 Bridge, located between the 10th Avenue and Washington Avenue bridges, to the University transitway.

“We want to create some long-term learning and long-term culture change here,” Pasiuk said. “We want, certainly, to become something that outlives this pilot and whatever funding might be subsequent.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Minneapolis has the second-highest percentage of people who bike to work among the 50 U.S. cities with the most workers.

Don Pslaum, transportation planner for the city’s transportation and public works committee, said this means a lot of people are biking every day.

“It’s actually kind of remarkable given the climate,” he said.

Of the nearly 10,000 to 15,000 bikers who are out in the city on an average spring, summer or fall day, one-third of them are around the University, Pslaum said.

But University police Deputy Chief Steve Johnson said the University police department should probably cite more of these cyclists for ordinance violations than they do.

One University ordinance prohibits the operation of a bicycle “on sidewalks, crosswalks or pedestrian areas located on property owned, leased or occupied by the University of Minnesota.”

If a cyclist bikes through the Northrop Mall area, “they could be cited for operating their bike against the ordinance,” he said.

Though the city’s national bike status impresses Ashley Satorius, a Hub Bicycle Co-op employee and year-round biker, she said the city could do more to merge forms of transit.

“I’d like to see more places for bikes on public transit and then more public transit to take the place of cars,” Satorius said.