Posts Tagged ‘Bicycles’

Bike-Friendly Duluth?

Friday, June 15th, 2012

As cities across the U.S. are battling it out for the distinction of “Most Bike-Friendly,” does Duluth stand a chance of being included some day in the Top-50 list?

You might think that our long winters and steep hills would prevent this. But think again: two of the top-ranked cities, Portland, Oregon (back to #1 this year) and Minneapolis (dropped to #2) are neither sunny nor warm places for much of the year-Portland is rainy , cool and hilly and we know all about the cold and snowy winters of Minnesota.

Consider also that two other cities – Boulder, Colorado (#3), which is comparable to Duluth in its total population and San Francisco, California (#8) – feature many or more of the same topographical obstacles we face here.

So what does it take to get on this list?

In addition to having a significant interest in cycling on the part of its residents, a city needs to be willing to be proactive and try new things.

In some ways Duluth has operated this way, to promote bicycling as a transportation option. For example,

  • The DTA was an early adopter of the bike racks on the front of buses.
  • There is a dedicated lane on Park Point (from April to October) for non-motorized users.The Bong Bridge (U.S. Hwy 2/53) connecting Duluth and Superior includes a separate, protected bicycle and pedestrian lane.
  • The City of Duluth and St. Louis County are creating space for bicyclists and pedestrians by adding shoulders where possible when reconstructing streets, including on parts of Arrowhead Road, Wallace Avenue, Snively Road and the new space created on Glenwood Street.
  • The Lakewalk (and the future Cross City Trail link that will connect the Lakewalk to the Munger Trail) is a bike-friendly, off-street link that will  run the entire length of Duluth.

These are highly visible bike-friendly amenities.  However, what is missing is just as noticeable:

  • Roads commonly labeled by local bicyclists as unsafe or dangerous—Superior Street in Downtown Duluth, Woodland Avenue around UMD, and 4th Street near the hospitals —are the very streets that should be the most accommodating. Although these major streets carry a quite a bit of car traffic, they are also ideal for bicycling, as they provide the most direct route to major destinations and generally have less severe slopes than other streets.
  • Other streets and public spaces, including intersections and routes on top of the hill near the Mall where bicycling has not been given a whole lot of thought, are enormous impediments to bicycling in this region.

But we also have some opportunities in our near future for the Twin Ports community to be proactive in a couple of upcoming projects:

  • Belknap Street, in the City of Superior,  is being considered for some type of bicycle accommodation that would complement the planned bike lanes on Tower Avenue as part of their downtown streetscape project.
  • A big opportunity in Duluth is the new DTA Multimodal Transportation Terminal, a part of which is a new “northwest passage” skyway connecting Downtown Duluth and the DECC.  This facility has the opportunity to serve as a bike station as well as provide a safe and convenient bicycle path across I-35 to and from the core downtown area.

So, what do you think? What’s your experience with biking in Duluth? Do we have the commitment that’s necessary to bring our city up to the level of one of America’s most bike-friendly cities? What do you see as opportunities—or opportunities lost—for improving biking here?

Why do YOU bike to work?

Friday, May 11th, 2012

We interviewed a few folks in and around our office about their reasons for biking to work.  Their message: biking is a healthy, economical and fun transportation alternative.

We hope you’ll be inspired or encouraged to join us for Bike to Work Day on
Friday, May 18.

You’re invited to stop by one of our bike commuter stations from 6:30 am
to 8:30 am and reward your commute with:

  • Free coffee and refreshments
  • Bike mechanics to look at brakes, tire pressure and other safety checks
  • Copies of the Duluth-Superior Bike Map

The bike stations will be located at:

  • Duluth: Lake Ave &Superior Street (Minnesota Power Plaza)
  • Superior: Tower Ave & Belknap Street (City Center Park)
  • Stop by and tell us why YOU biked to work!

    Click to see our Bike to Work event page on Facebook

    Video footage and editing by Robert Herling, Jodi Jabas and James Gittemeier

    Carless in Duluth

    Friday, March 16th, 2012

    It’s no secret that we Americans are in love with our cars.

    They demonstrate our status and standing in society.

    The way we’ve invested in roads and highways and the way we’ve developed our cities pretty much mandates that you need to own a car to be able to access jobs, food, education and recreation.

    Driving a car has become the default mode of travel for almost all people for every trip of any distance.

    And here in Duluth, perched on a steep hill with prominent winters, it makes sense that people want to drive.

    So why would a person choose not to?

    Video documentary and panel discussion

    Carless in Duluth, a video documentary about people who walk, bike, or take the bus instead of driving, will premiere on:

    Tuesday, March 20, 2012
    6:00 pm
    Teatro Zuccone
    222 East Superior Street, downtown Duluth

    Following the video, there will be a panel discussion with engineers, planners, and other experts in the area.  Afterward, an informational tabling session will be held in the atrium where food and drinks will also be available.

    Area bike and ped projects, and lots of them

    The event, hosted by the Healthy Duluth Area Coalition, follows a series of public meetings that were hosted throughout Duluth about one month ago.  At each meeting, residents were given the opportunity to learn about ongoing and upcoming bicycle and pedestrian projects happening all over the city, including the Cross-City Trail, the Duluth Citywide Sidewalk Study, and the Duluth Traverse Mountain Bike Trail, and gave their feedback about their interest in these projects as well as other potential ideas. Over 50 residents participated in these meetings.

    The Carless in Duluth premiere and transportation forum on March 20th will conclude this series of public outreach events. Organizations including the Duluth Transit Authority, the Metropolitan Interstate Council, City of Duluth Engineering, and the Bike Cave Collective have already confirmed their participation in this event, with pending confirmation from the Northern Lights Express, COGGS, and the UMD Cycling Club.

    Check it out – it’s free and open to the public.

    My Awesome Walk to Work

    Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

    Snow-covered section of the Superior Hiking Trail in Duluth MN

    My Facebook post today reads: “Another awesome walk to work this morning on the Superior Hiking Trail—despite the snow—or maybe because of it!”

    Within seconds a friend (an actual friend, in this case) responded “I did the same. I love Chester Park.”

    Another commented “You are the luckiest commuter ever!”

    This exchange reminded me of the simple, real-life benefits of one of our favorite concepts here at the MIC: multi-modal transportation networks.

    It’s all about options

    From a transportation planning perspective, a multi-modal transportation network refers to a balance of  infrastructure that supports multiple modes of travel — a mix of roads, air, marine/port, rail, public transportation, bicycle and pedestrian facilities (including paved and non-paved trails).  This mix is plainly visible on any given day in the Duluth-Superior area.

    From a societal and governmental perspective, multi-modal transportation networks have been widely supported because a balanced transportation system encourages economic growth, reduces congestion and environmental impacts, and improves mobility and access to transportation.

    From my personal perspective, though, a multi-modal transportation network means that I have options. It was just too nice of a morning to get in my car and drive (the very walkable distance of) two and a half miles.

    Trails as commuter pathways

    One big advantage of living in Duluth, Minnesota, is the proximity of urban areas to green spaces. A multi-modal system, in this city, means that I can walk out my back door onto the Superior Hiking Trail, which in turn intersects with our urban streets infrastructure across Skyline Parkway (as scenic a walk as you could ask for), down through a couple of local neighborhoods and to our downtown office.

    And a community-wide vision is emerging for Duluth to become the premier trail city in North America. Developing an inter-connected trails system will provide not just outstanding recreational opportunities but compelling transportation options as well.

    Quality of life improvement

    Bottom line, I don’t have to get in my car and drive every time I need to go somewhere. I’m able to travel on foot (or by bike or by bus), and I consider that a big quality of life enhancement.

    How about you?

    Do you have an awesome walk to work of your own?  Would you like to be able to walk or bike more often in your daily life?  Does it make sense to continue to fund multi-modal transportation networks? (More on that topic to follow…)

    What Makes an Award-Winning Bike Map?

    Friday, August 19th, 2011

    Congratulations to our GIS Specialist Kody Thurnau. His redesign of our popular Duluth-Superior Metropolitan Bike Map took not one but two awards from juries of his peers at the 2011 Esri International User Conference in San Diego, CA.

    The map was awarded first prize in the category Best Cartographic Design Single Map Product – Large Format Press Copy.  Judged by 38 Esri staff members for general and specific cartographic quality, entries in this category had to be a single map product larger than 11 in. x 17 in. but not exceeding 48 in., printed professionally on a printing press.

    The map was also one of three overall winners of the Cartography Special Interest Group (Carto SIG) Map Awards, out of 1,200 conference Map Gallery entries.

    Judging criteria included ‛efficiency in communication of intended message’ and ‛maximization of the user’s cognitive experience.’  More specifically, the judges appreciated:

    • Its compact size
    • Its design, layout and the way it’s strategically folded
    • Its scale and legibility
    • Its topographical info
    • Its easily identified green space destinations
    • Its urban area destinations, including local bike shops
    • Its information about different riding surfaces
    • Its information about designated bike routes

    In other words, it’s perfectly designed to for people who want to bike in, around or between Duluth and Superior, whether you’re a recreational rider or an urban commuter.

    Your guide to biking Duluth and Superior

    You can pick up own copy of the Duluth-Superior Metropolitan Bike Map at local bike shops, tourist information outlets or email us at dsmic01@gmail.com and we’ll mail you a copy.

    Next up: online interactive version

    Right now we have a pdf version of the map available for you to download on our website.  Never fear, Kody is hard at work converting the print version into an interactive map you’ll be able to access and use online.