Monday, February 28, 2011

breaking news

Transit for Livable Communities Approves $1.172 Million for Twin Cities Bicycling and Walking Improvements

Funding from Bike Walk Twin Cities program will be used for expansion of Nice Ride Minnesota bike-share program and new bicycling and walking projects in Fridley and Seward neighborhood of Minneapolis

Feb. 28, 2011 [Saint Paul, Minn.]—To improve bicycling and walking opportunities in Minneapolis and surrounding communities, Transit for Livable Communities (TLC) has approved $1,172,000 for three capital projects. TLC administers, under the program Bike Walk Twin Cities (BWTC), the federal Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program, a $25 million initiative to further bicycling and walking as transportation options.

The three projects being funded are as follows:

$1 million to expand the Nice Ride Minnesota bicycle sharing program. The federal funds allocated by TLC will enable Nice Ride to leverage more than $500,000 in challenge pledge funds from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota and $250,000 from the Central Corridor Funding Collaborative, a collaboration of private foundations. Nice Ride Minnesota was launched last June through this type of public-private partnership. More than 100,000 trips were taken on Nice Ride bicycles in the first season, which ended in November. TLC, through BWTC, is the largest funder of Nice Ride Minnesota.

“Nice Ride Minnesota has shown benefit in shifting trips from driving to bicycling,” said Joan Pasiuk, director of BWTC. A survey of the system’s annual subscribers indicated that 20% of trips via Nice Ride would have been taken in a car. “We believe that expansion of the Nice Ride system will increase its transportation significance and accessibility by more Twin Cities residents,” Pasiuk said.

The new funding will enable Nice Ride Minnesota to add up to 50 new stations in 2011, including 8 already slated for North Minneapolis, according to Bill Dossett, executive director of Nice Ride Minnesota.

$110,000 to the City of Fridley to provide better walking and bicycling connections between the Northstar Rail Station and communities to the south. The project arises out of Fridley’s recently completed draft bicycle/pedestrian plan. With this funding, matched by $67,000 and in-kind contributions from Fridley, the area will now include sidewalks and bike lanes on both sides of Main Street, from 57th Avenue to 61st Avenue.

“This is a model complete streets project,” said Pasiuk, referring to a national and state effort to improve accessibility for all users of roads. “Through these improvements, Fridley residents and visitors will be able to more easily access transit.”

$62,000 for the City of Minneapolis to address pedestrian safety issues on Franklin Avenue in the Seward neighborhood. Hennepin County plans to repave Franklin Avenue this summer from Hiawatha Avenue (TH 55) to the Mississippi River Bridge. The funds will enable the addition of countdown timers, marked crosswalks, and curb extensions at four intersections from 22nd to 26thAvenues. Bicycle lanes will also be considered as part of the work along Franklin Avenue.

“This is an exciting project for enhancing walking and bicycling, including connections to transit, in a vibrant inner city community,” said Pasiuk, noting that the project arose from the grassroots work of several neighborhood organizations, including Redesign Inc., Seward Neighborhood Group, and Seward Civic and Commerce Association. “This project will provide a model for other work along the corridor and is testimony to how residents can shape their community,” Pasiuk said.

The TLC board will consider additional capital projects in late 2011. BWTC has so far funded nearly 90 miles of new bike lanes and sidewalks in the Twin Cities, as well as community outreach, bicycling and walking planning studies, and an effort to measure bicycling and walking as forms of transportation.

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