Green Digest: County seeking bike plan input

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November 5, 2013
By: Dylan Thomas
A Hennepin County survey asks road users to rate their comfort level with various bike facilities, like this buffered bike lane.
Dylan Thomas
Dylan Thomas
Plus: Homegrown Hero Awards, green holiday gifts and holiday light recycling

Hennepin County is updating its bicycle plan for the first time since 1997, and the results of an online survey will help set county priorities.

There’s no doubt a lot has changed in the world of biking over the last 16 years. The county’s updated plan aims to reflect the increase in bicycle ridership locally as well as recent advances in bikeway design, said Rose Ryan, the county’s bicycle and pedestrian coordinator.

“What we’re trying to do is revamp our countywide bike network,” Ryan said.

The county plans to release a draft version of the plan this spring and gather public feedback over the course of next summer. A portion of the work will involve planning connections between established city bicycle systems, work that’s being coordinated with Three Rivers Park District.

“We are looking at those longer connections, city to city across the county, and connecting more major destinations,” Ryan said. “Cities may have a lot of local, neighborhood connections, but I think we’re a little more concerned with connecting those bigger destinations: employment centers, retail, places where we anticipate more people want to go.”

The online survey aims to gather feedback from both regular bicyclists and, importantly, those who don’t ride often or at all. In one portion of the survey, respondents are asked to look at pictures of various on-street bike facilities — ranging from streets with no marked bicycle lanes to protected bikeways separated from traffic — and rate their comfort level.

The results will inform where the county places bikeways and what those bikeways look like.

Said Ryan: “That’s something we’re also trying to get at in this plan: What can we do to make it easier for more people to choose to bike places? The design does really impact that, and where our bikeways are impacts that.”

A case-in-point is the recent addition of buffered bike lanes to Portland and Park avenues. The one-way streets were repaved and re-striped in fall of 2012, and in the process each lost a motor vehicle lane and gained a painted buffer between traffic and a bicycle lane.

“People have said they really weren’t comfortable on the bike lanes before and now they feel more comfortable riding with that additional space and additional separation,” Ryan said.

She said about 1,200 responses to the survey had been submitted in its first month online. It will remain open until late November.

For more information or to take the survey go to hennepin.us/bikeplan

Nominate a Homegrown Hero

Nominations are open for the 2013 Homegrown Heroes Awards sponsored by the Homegrown Minneapolis Food Council.

Any individual or organization working to expand Minneapolis’ locally grown food system is eligible for an award. The council’s mission is to grow a healthy, safe and sustainable local food supply to help address issues of hunger and food instability.

The deadline for nominations is 5 p.m. Nov. 15. For more information, or to download a nomination form, go to minneapolismn.gov/sustainability/homegrown and click on the nominations link under “Recent News.”

Honorees will be notified of their awards later this month, and those awards will be presented at the council’s annual open house scheduled for 6 p.m.–8:30 p.m. Dec. 5 at the Walker Art Center, 1750 Hennepin Ave.

Green holiday shopping

More than 75 vendors are expected at the eighth-annual Green Gifts Fair taking place later this month.

Hosted by the Do It Green! Minnesota, the fair features sustainable, fair-trade and organic products for the holidays. Expect jewelry and clothing made from repurposed or “up-cycled” materials, locally made toys, vegan treats, organic beauty products and more.

Copies of the 2014 Do It Green! Directory of ecologically conscious Minnesota businesses will be available at the fair. Shoppers are encouraged to bring their own reusable shopping bags to the event.

The fair runs 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Nov. 23 at the Midtown Global Market, 920 E. Lake St. For more information, go to doitgreen.org/events/green-gifts-fair

Holiday light recycling returns

The return of the Recycle Your Holidays campaign is as sure a sign as any that the end of the year is approaching.

Sponsored in part by Recycling Association of Minnesota and Clean Energy Resource Teams, the annual campaign encourages Minnesotans to recycle broken or burned-out strings of holiday lights and upgrade to newer, more energy efficient LED holiday lights. Last year, over 450 locations across the state — many of them ACE Hardware stores — hosted drop-off boxes for holiday lights.

The program runs from mid-November through the end of January each year. The collected light strands are taken to vocational centers around the state where they are disassembled so that individual components can be recycled.

For more information on the program, including a list of locations that collect holiday lights year round, go to recycleminnesota.org/programs/recycle-your-holidays.