Today’s new word in the transportation arena is “active.” When you ride a bike or walk, your source of transportation is “active.”
I received that word-of-the-day lesson from Minneapolis City Council Member Robert Lilligren just after the Transportation and Public Works Committee heard a presentation on the city’s 2011 Bicycling Account.
The report tells us we became more “active” in our choices of transportation in 2011 and that the city is there to paint lines and post signs to send us safely on our way.
Between 2007 and 2011, biking traffic in Minneapolis grew by 47 percent, with an increase of 25 percent between 2010 and 2011, the report notes. The U.S. Census Bureau tells us that 3.7 percent commute to work on bikes — not bad for a city known worldwide for snow and ice.
Part of this may come from the increase in on-street and off-street bikes lanes. In the last year, on-street bike lanes increased by 70 percent, or 35 miles, bringing the city total to 167 miles.
Three major off-street bike lane projects also grew in 2011. The Cedar Lake Trail now allows riders from the chain of lakes to travel all the way to the Mississippi River, with part of the trip near Target Field. The Hiawatha LRT Trail brings travelers into downtown from the southeastern section of the city. The first segment of the Northeast 18th Avenue Trail was also completed in 2011, becoming the only east-west trail in the city.
Despite this increase in biking and biking lanes, the number of crashes involving bikers and motorized vehicles has dropped.
“When people drive cars near the campus, they see a lot of young people on bikes,” City Pedestrian Coordinator Shaun Murphy told council members, adding that drivers tend to slow down when they see bikers and take more care when they change lanes or make turns.
Back in 1993, 18 years ago, when there were 3,000 bike commuters in Minneapolis, there were 298 bike-motorized vehicle crashes. That’s 15 more than in 2010, despite the number of bike commuters more than doubling to 7,000.
New riders and visitors to Minneapolis also have increased options.
Nice Ride Minnesota, the folks with the yellow bikes that take credit cards, went from 700 bikes and 100,000 trips in 2010 to 1,200 bikes and 200,000 trips last year. Nice Ride information booklets are apparently one of the more popular items distributed to Minneapolis Convention Center visitors.
Murphy said there are plans to add 10 more miles of bike trails in 2012 and begin work on a University of Minnesota Bike Trail.