University area begs for biking

Students should follow the neighborhood trends and consider biking to get around campus.

Students often rely on nontraditional ways of getting around. For many, biking is the most convenient way to get to class without breaking a budget.

Luckily, the University of Minnesota is in one the nation’s most bike-friendly cities. In a famous 1973 study on the efficiency of cycling, Scientific American spared no expense in labeling biking as a remedy to the world’s problems of development, transportation, health and the efficient use of resources.  The Minnesota Daily editorial board urges students to consider this method of transportation in order to help the University community deal with these very real problems.

New biking infrastructure

Returning students will notice a new bike route on campus, the University of Minnesota Trail which runs through Dinkytown. The bikeway opened last month and connects the University of Minnesota Transitway to the West Bank via Bridge 9 over the Mississippi River.

Bike Walk Twin Cities, a federal nonmotorized transportation pilot program, designed the bikeway under its mission to fight traffic congestion and energy use.

The Dinkytown Greenway “will serve both recreational cyclists and commuters heading to the U of M or downtown Minneapolis, two of the biggest employment centers in the state,” according to a BWTC release.

Next year the bikeway will be improved with the addition of the Bluff Street Trail, which will link the west end of Bridge 9 with 13th Avenue South and then Second Street South bike lanes into downtown.

The bikeway is a useful resource for residents and commuters who want to take advantage of less competitive parking options.

A biking trend for students

The new route follows the addition of residential developments in the business center of the University neighborhood.

Our community is becoming increasingly dense and pedestrian-friendly.

Apartment developer Opus Group and potentially Doran Companies are replacing Dinkytown’s surface parking lots with new development. Opus’ project will include a more efficient mix of underground and street parking.

BWTC reported a nearly 51 percent increase in biking and a nearly 24 percent increase in walking in the Twin Cities since 2007.

More students and more bike lanes lead to a 68 percent increase in biking in Dinkytown between 2007 and 2012, nearly doubling the total number of cyclists in any other measured area around the University and downtown Minneapolis.

The trend is clear: The University is becoming a bike-friendly part of the city. With greater residential density and less public parking available, students should adapt to a changing trend.

Biking is a part of the University

Numerous initiatives, from the U of MN Zap Program to the bike-sharing Nice Ride program with 10 locations on campus, are part of the daily activities of the University campus.

This month, BWTC will conduct its seventh annual count of bicycle and pedestrian traffic, taking a record of walkers and bikers in key locations, including parts of East and West Bank. The results will help represent our community accurately and help advocate for appropriate infrastructure for cyclists. To be counted, students should simply make sure to bike throughout the month.

The city of Minneapolis hopes to double the number of commuters biking to work to 7 percent by 2014. The University, as a biking center for the city, can help make this goal realized through student and staff participation.

We all benefit when students choose to bike. Our roads are less congested. We can conserve resources and save space on campus by using fewer parking spaces. Using existing biking routes and infrastructure is free and accessible for everyone. Though safety will always be an issue, bikers can help fight injury rates by giving cycling more visibility so that drivers can learn to share the road.