Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Our Vision: A More Bikeable Blue Earth, MN!

The Blue Earth Active Living Coalition has their sights set on becoming a Bikeable Community and one of the first steps was to host a Bikeable Communities Workshop. The workshop overviewed current concerns as well as strategies Blue Earth can take to become more ‘bike friendly.’ Having recently completed major infrastructure changes to Highway 169, which includes three roundabouts, the community was praised on having made sure the new changes allowed pedestrians and bikers to safely navigate the busy highway. The workshop was attended by 25 participants, which included representation from the school, city council, city engineer, police department, chamber of commerce and Region 9 Development Commission, just to name a few. As an outcome of the workshop, several priorities were identified to move the community towards their goal. These included: 1) Creating a master plan for biking and walking- broaden survey base to include youth- identify routes to connect top destinations, 2) Complete gaps in trail near high school 3) Consider a parking study of downtown  4) Begin an effort for before school – remote drop-off, corner captains, include buses, work with churches 5) Incentivize 8th grade to bike to school (8th grade moving to H.S. this year), 6) create safe route map for riding to high school and  7) Re-establish bike safety day – with a bike rodeo. The group is also utilizing SHIP funds to enter a contract with city engineering firm, Bolton & Menk to assist coalition in completion of Bike Friendly Communities Application.  The group is also considering way-finding signage on designated bike routes to link community resources and pedestrian/visitor travel.
 All of the bikeability talk in Blue Earth has caught the attention of the Chamber/Visitor Bureau   In the long-term, the Chamber of Commerce/Visitor Bureau is looking to relocate their offices to the Green Giant Statue. Over 2,000 visitors per day stop to visit the Giant, so a bike check-out station is also in the group’s radar. Chamber Director, Cindy Lyon, not a bike owner herself, borrowed a bike to participate in the workshop. She was so excited by the prospects of a bike friendly Blue Earth, she went out and purchased a new shiny green (jolly green giant color) bicycle the next day. Now, instead of driving to meetings and when running errands, she now rides her bike. WHEW! I rode my new bike out to the Giant Statue this morning to do some work. Back on the bike trail I saw so many things we do not see in a car or even a motorcycle. I got a close look at the river, the camp site, and the fairgrounds! Giant goal...ride to the way side rest sites! Thanks SHIP & Active Living for the tender push to get my bike!” Cindy Lyon, Chamber & Visitor Bureau Director, City of Blue Earth.  

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