Once again, the state of Minnesota is seeking your input as it continues to develop its Statewide Bicycle Plan. According to a Department of Transportation press release, “the plan will identify a statewide system of bicycle routes, improve existing facilities and refine MnDOT’s bicycle planning process.”
The first round of statewide public input meetings was held in the spring of 2014, and participants provided more than 3,000 comments and ideas on ways to make Minnesota an even more bicycle-friendly state.
Besides seeking additional input at upcoming meetings, MnDOT officials will also share the results of the first round of comments. There will be no formal presentations at these events, and participants can come and go as they please. Snacks will be provided and kid-friendly activities will keep the little ones occupied while mom and dad tell state officials what is important to them.
A few themes can be gleaned from the first comment period in 2014. For example, the largest percentage of respondents, both in the urban core and outstate areas, want to see improvement of bike facilities along busy roadways, to downtown areas and local businesses. Also, not surprisingly, most respondents prefer bicycle facilities that are separated from automotive traffic. This includes shared use trails and on-road cycle tracks, which are divided from traffic by a physical barrier. Participants reported they tend to avoid roads with narrow shoulders, which require sharing space with automobiles.
Another repetitive theme in the earlier responses was a desire for more driver education as it pertains to interaction with, and awareness of, cyclists. Speeding, distracted driving and texting behind the wheel were all major concerns of cyclists. Riders in outstate areas were also worried about rumble strips that take up the shoulder, leaving the biker with the choice of either a terribly unpleasant ride, or sharing the lane with fast-moving traffic.
While a large majority of the 2014 respondents reported riding their bicycles at least once a week for health or recreation, more than one-third never bike to school or work. Nearly half of all metro-area respondents never ride in the winter, while two-thirds in the outstate area hang up their bikes in the colder months.
Public meetings run from Feb. 9 through March 12 all over the state. Specific times and locations can be found here. If you can’t make it to one of the open houses but want to be heard you can submit comments on the project website, via email or snail mail:
MnDOT Office of Transit MS 315
395 John Ireland Blvd.
St. Paul, MN, 55155