Mar 31, 2011

Flood Ride, Nice Ride, 30 Days of Riding

Three important topics to touch on tonight:

  1. Flood Ride!! - On Sunday some intrepid cyclists will be venturing afield to survey flooding in the Mississippi and Minnesota Riverways. We will be meeting in Minnehaha Park and riding through Fort Snelling, Crossing the Mendota Bridge, checking out the trail from Mendota to Cedar Ave. bridge, checking out Lillydale Road, exploring Crosby Farms, etc. This will be a ramble and many dead-ends and turn-arounds are expected, but it will be a day of adventure. Details and late-breaking news can be found at the only place I get all my news. Anyone interested in joining us is heartily welcomed! This is a friendly group and we will keep the drunken bon-fire-jumping and criminal trespasses to an absolute minimum.
  2. Nice Ride is redeploying their bikes in the next week or so. The Nice Ride memberships are on sale for a mere $40, so this is a good time to get one if you are thinking about doing so. The program is expanding this year, so it's good that this is working out so well. I heard a presentation from Nice Ride yesterday at the Minneapolis Bicycle Advisory Committee meeting and it all sounds good. The variable on deploying bikes will be weather, but they will be out soon. 
  3. 30-days of Biking starts tonight at Midnight. I am registered already and we have organized a group from our office to participate in an informal competition. Not that I am overly competitive, but I am going to win this, no matter what it takes.
The photo with this post is the product of a short photo safari I took over my lunch hour today. If this is your bike, I am sorry, but that fork set up is, um, "different" as they would say in Minnesota.

Mar 29, 2011

The Truth about Spring

2nd Ave. at 40th Street
Originally uploaded by Snak Shak
Everyone acts like Spring is all about flowers, birds and sunshine - maybe a few rainbows and some unicorns now and then.

Actually, when the snow recedes after something like 5 or 6 months of smothering the earth, what's exposed is a lot ruder than daffodils and tulips. Gray gritty grass covered in snow mold and punctuated by faded scraps of paper and crushed plastic drink bottles is pretty common around here at the moment.

One of my bus friends confessed to having mixed feelings about the snow melting. "I am glad it's gone, but it's so ugly" she said. I agree. I can't wait for it to melt because that means it will be greening up soon. Not soon enough for my pleasure, however.

I think we are finally out of the grips of winter, though, so I think it's mostly fair well to the bus at this point and hello to the fat-tired-single-speed-ass-hatchet-commuter bike, or perhaps the Rawland, from here on out. I'll miss the reading time, and a bus friend or two, but I have to say that my mood is so much better when I ride instead of bus or drive, so that will be a welcome change.

Hopefully we'll have some warmer temperatures and some lush green goodness for my first planned group ride - it's going to be a spin around the Grand Rounds starting at the Longfellow Grill (Lake St. and W. River Parkway) at 11:00 on April 16. It's couched as a 3-speed ride, just because I want to ride that bike, but anyone who shows up will be welcomed regardless of what's between your legs.

Hang in there, the snow is melting a little each day and soon it will be rainbows and unicorns, dammit.

Mar 26, 2011

Pen Pal

I have an international Pen Pal, of sorts.

Overly Curious Bystander (aka "Overly Curious") is a contact on Flickr. I think we found each other on the 650b Flickr Group, or maybe perhaps Bike-By Shootings. At any rate, we both post photos there occasionally. We connected via Flickr and liked each other's photos enough that we ended up keeping track of each others adventures via photo posts and the odd comment now and then.

Back in February, I offered a small token of appreciation to anyone reading this blog from a foreign land. Overly Curious was a recipient of this offer. He received a MBL spoke card plus a Milwaukee Bicycle Co. sticker and a Trash Bag messenger bag sticker.

He posted a confirmation picture when the eagle had finally landed in extreme Southern England. I am hoping he posts a photo of the spoke card that clearly places this somewhere in England, but until then, all I have is this photo, which I pinched from his Flickr site.

Today I received a small package from England. I opened it to discover a little Trans-Atlantic quid pro quo.

Overly Curious sent over a book on the English Riviera Global Geopark as well as a few English cycling stickers (plus a Milwaukee Bicycle "SOYO" sticker as well. Sweet!

It's funny how amusing this little foreign exchange has been. It's a slow moving game, but very engaging. Go find yourself a foreign pen pal and try it yourself. You'll feel like grade-schooler once more.

Mar 24, 2011

I am Invited!

Lone Oak
Originally uploaded by Snak Shak
Today I received, once again, an invitation to women's writing group event. I think this is the third time I have received such an invitation, and this one promised to become my "favorite girl's night out!". I assume the sender got my email address from the Midtown Writer's Group Meet Up sight, but based on my profile photo, there should be little doubt that I am actually... male. Rather unambiguously male, as a matter of fact.

I am of half a mind to show up at this event - I like the restaurant it's being held at. I would walk in and greet the people I know and introduce myself to those I don't, clutching my invitation to my chest. That would either force them to let me participate or send me packing.

If nothing else, that little stunt would most likely get me removed from her email distribution list, which I can't seem to accomplish any way else.

Mar 23, 2011

Studio Bricolage

This is tremendously exciting!

Studio Bricolage may be expanding. As stated on their website, 'Studio Bricolage, a project of Leonardo’s Basement, is a 21st century, community-driven art, craft and technology playground for creative and adventurous adults who want to tinker, get messy, make mistakes, try again, experiment, geek out, chill out, invent and have fun in a casual, informal setting. Studio Bricolage offers classes and exhibitions at various locations and is known for its First Friday Adult Building Parties."

I had no idea such a thing existed - I am familiar with Leonardo's Basement but thought it was for kids and teens only. It's nice they are making some room for the grown-up kids, too.

What's more exciting still is that they might be expanding into some new space - they are potentially moving into an empty car dealership in the Midway. Here's the details:
Our goal is to establish a fully-equipped workshop for Studio Bricolage, our revolutionary community art, technology and engineering program, plus Leo’s Loft, the teen program at Leonardo’s Basement. Shared work space will include wood and metalworking equipment, art and craft materials, automotive equipment, computer design center and other services.
The former car dealership contains 40,000 sq ft, twice as much as Studio Bricolage needs. We are seeking tenants to sublet space. If you know individuals or groups looking for a place to build, meet, teach or do business, invite them to take a look.
The well-maintained building includes a beautiful showroom, garage service area with 18’ ceiling and a lots of multi-purpose and storage space. We know that the rent will be below market rate and we are developing specific numbers.
Come see for yourself, help us dream up ideas and plan a one-of-a-kind collaborative design and build center in the heart of the Twin Cities. Invite the world. No children, ages 16+ only.
PS We have extended an invitation to Charlie Sheen.
Questions? Contact Steve Jevning at 612-220-3171 or
I have longed for a studio/workshop space for a long time, so I intend to go check this out, and I think playing at Studio Bricolage and trying my hand at welding, etc. would be a blast.  You can "kick the tires" on Saturday, April 2 at the potential new space, which is located at 1225 University Ave. in St. Paul.

Hopefully this will come together. Stay tuned...

Mar 21, 2011

When Your Parents Get in the Back Seat

Iowa Cow
Originally uploaded by Snak Shak
We have been becoming increasingly familiar with the realities of aging parents for some time now, and most of my friends are as well. The latest development is a short-term nursing home stay for my Mother-in-Law due to a bum wing, and that's been requiring some attention from The Spouse, who just returned home tonight.

As we got caught up over a piece of Opera cake and a glass of wine, I was reminded of the first time the parent/child dynamic shifted for me, and we suddenly and unexpectedly found ourselves to be "The Grownups".

We had vacationed with my parents a number of times - a timeshare in Phoenix one year, camping in the U.P. another year, etc. These were easy and familiar trips, at least for me if not my wife. Old roles fall naturally into place; Mom cooks dinner, Dad calls the shots and we kids fall in behind and go along for the ride.

Things changed dramatically during one trip to the North Shore. They drove up from Milwaukee, and we from Minneapolis, and met at a pre-designated rendezvous point: the Perkin's in Duluth. Unfortunately, after lunch, we discovered that my Dad's car would not start. Not a problem for creative problem-solvers like us. We had the deadster towed to a local dealer and piled their stuff into our car, and car-pooled to our destination, a cabin on Lake Superior. We would pick up the repaired car back in Duluth on the way back home.

It quickly became apparent, however, that my parents were in the backseat both literally and metaphorically. Suddenly, and with no advance warning, dinner destinations, day trips, sight-seeing destinations and just about everything else was up to us.

What the heck? When did we become the grown ups? Molly and I actually exchanged glances as we slowly figured out what had just happened. My parents were done. I can hear them saying to themselves, "Enough. We raised him, he turned out alright... let's just sit back and enjoy this, damnit!"

We made it through that trip well enough although it was a little disconcerting. I suspect everybody has had this kind of experience if they are old enough, but it's interesting to me that years after this happened, it's still clear as a bell and I can point to a specific date when this dynamic changed.

Mar 19, 2011

Twin Cities 3-Speed Adventure Society

Dust 'em off and fix 'em up... I am announcing the advent of the Twin Cities 3-Speed Adventure Society (TC3-SAS).

This is no costume ball, and the age or county of origin of you bike is of no import. TC3-SAS is for intrepid cyclists looking to take on the world with nothing but their wits, their will and 3 gear ratios (slow, moderately slow, and medium). What we may lack in speed, we more than make up for in elan, esprit de corps and intrepidness.

Although I am not worthy, I will humbly lead this hardy bunch in a series of 3-speed rides this season. We'll be venturing further afield this year, traveling to Coon Rapids Dam, circumnavigating the Grand Rounds, exploring downtown St. Paul and potentially taking on the length of the Luce Line - all via 3-speed!

So, Comrades, fix up your Old Clankies - drop some 30-weight into the SA hubs, lube the chains and pump up the 26 x 1 3/8 tires. You can buy one of these for $100 on CL for that matter. But... leave the English stuff and tweed at home. Instead, bring water, Cliff Bars and your sense of adventure. We'll be doing rides from 25 - 60 miles in length, selecting routes based on aesthetics, topography and our sense of adventure.

The first ride will likely happen in mid- to late-April. Stay tuned for more information, but get those Sturmey Archer hubs oiled up, because this is going to be the event the hipsters wished they had thought up.


Originally uploaded by Snak Shak
Coltrane takes a break to rest up after another session of astronaut training today. Soon he will boldly go where no cat has gone before. Like around Lake Nokomis...

Modifications to the trailer are nearly complete. I need to outfit the cockpit now that the structural work is done, otherwise it's almost ready. In the meantime, we are working on acclimation and familiarization. We have a few more days of training before our maiden voyage.

Details to come.

Super Moon

Originally uploaded by ted_welter
Tonight we should be treated a "super moon". The perigee of the moons orbit coincides within an hour of the full moon itself, bringing the truly full moon into view at it's closest point to Earth. The upshot is that moon may appear about 14% larger and 30% brighter than it normally does.

This would be outstanding evening for a night-time ride.

Mar 16, 2011

The Cat Trailer

Commuter and Cat Trailer
Originally uploaded by Snak Shak
As regular readers will already be aware, we adopted a pre-owned cat (Coltrane, also known as "big orange guy", "orange cat", or "chowbag") last fall. He's been a great room-mate and companion and we are getting along famously.

However, he's an odd cat. He's actually more of a dog than a cat. He loves to ride in the car and regularly accompanies us on errands. He is exceptionally laid back and loves when we have company. He did not bat an eye when he met my sister's hound (aka "Cousin Blue"). He is fearless, almost to a fault, and very, very confident. He's outdoorsy as well.

All of this leads me to believe that he would like to go for a bike ride now and then, I scored a used kid-hauling trailer from a friend today and plan to retro-fit this into a rolling Kitty Palace. I'll ride him around the lakes and such when the weather warms up and the streets dry out a bit. I think he'll really enjoy it.

If not, hey - new cargo trailer!

Mar 15, 2011

3-Speed Deals to be Had

If anybody is looking around for a good deal on a 3-speed, on Sunday afternoon, March 27 Mr. Michael Recycles Bicycles will be having a "3-Speed Day" and by that I mean that they will be pulling together all of the 3-speeds from their various and assorted secure, undisclosed locations and getting them into the store to admire and purchase. The shop is at 520 N. Prior in the Midway of St. Paul.

You are already too late to sign up for the Lake Pepin 3-speed tour this year - it's full, apparently. However, I will be doing a few 3-speed rides again this summer, including a Grand Rounds jaunt and a ride to Coon Rapids dam in May or June. This is a lovely, leisurely way to enjoy the city because you can't possibly go fast on these things, which is sometimes just what I need. Stay tuned for details...

If cargo bikes are the next fixed gear, then 3-speeds are the next cargo bike. Definately maybe.

Mar 14, 2011

A Simple Mechanical Chore and 30 Days

I completed a simple little maintenance task this evening with the help of a friend. I few weeks ago, I sprung for a White Industries single speed freewheel. I went to swap the existing Shimano freewheel for the White Industries unit this past weekend only to discover a small, but significant, gap in my tool arsenal.

A quick post on Bike Love remedied this, however. After work I rode over to pick up a loaner FR-6 and after dinner tonight I got to work on the freewheelectomy.

The FR-6 fits in a vice and the wheel (or rather the freewheel) locks into the tool like so. A little counter-clockwise pressure and the freewheel was freed in seconds. This would have been essentially impossible to do with out this specialized little tool, but it was piece of cake with the right tool.

With the old freewheel removed, I cleaned the threads, re-greased the hub and White freewheel, and carefully threaded the new freewheel onto the hub. The whole operation took less than 10 minutes and the purring of the White freewheel is pure magic. Thanks, Steef!

On an unrelated note, the 2011 30 Days of Biking challenge starts on April 1, no fooling. I love the tag-line: We Ride Our Bikes. Every. Friggin'. Day. The point of 30 days is to get on your bike, even if it's just around the block, every single day of the month. This is more about making riding your bike a part of your life than going for mileage or anything macho like that. I registered for it today and will be encouraging others to do so as well. Molly really enjoyed this challenge last year and we are looking forward to it again this year. Give it a shot - it's easier than you would think, unless you have to travel, in which case it's pretty impossible, but still worth trying.

I'll do some status reports in April about this, but probably a day-by-day account, since nobody needs that noise.

Mar 13, 2011

Light at the End of the Tunnel?

I got an email yesterday from an e-friend that I have not seen since the times of summer breezes and beers at Sea Salt. His message was a small unexpected ray of sunshine on what was otherwise a low gray day. It contained news of winter health challenges as well as the promise of leisurely county rides in better days ahead.

A fitting, timely and welcome message. It's hard to believe it's been slightly over a year since my realization that I need to do some serious work on becoming more perfect from now on or it's going to be a prolonged and unhappy state of affairs. Things are going better on that front but it's still a struggle at times.

I feel, however, as though the current of time is accelerating and carrying me more quickly toward that metaphorical waterfall which will fling me into a new life and new opportunities. A chance to take in some longer rides, explore some new territory and generally get reacquainted with what's good in this world and what's worthwhile. In a lot of ways, it feels similar to the last few weeks of school, looking ahead to a glorious summer break.

A few new and interesting projects are looming, the snow banks are now receding, and that light at the end of tunnel doesn't look quite so much like the train.

Mar 12, 2011

Street Films: Bike Corral vs. Bike Oasis

Here's a  short StreetFilms piece on bike corrals (and bike oases). It includes some interesting shots of how they implemented this in PDX. A physical barrier (like bollards) ringed the parking spaces and they put down a temporary rack to lock to. I wonder if Dero or anyone makes such a rack locally, and I wonder if these can be rented. Cost of implementation will be a challenge we need manage if a bike corral at 48th and Chicago is going to get off the ground.

Mar 10, 2011

Grass Roots Activism: A Bike Corral at 48th and Chicago

There is the beginning of a movement afoot to get an experimental bike corral installed at 48th and Chicago.

Although you can't tell from context, this is a photo of my Raleigh 3-Speed (aka "Old Clanky") and Molly's Breezer outside of Turtle Bread last summer. Although there are some bike racks at 48th and Chicago, generally speaking, the parking (for cars and bikes) is inadequate. We were locked up to a street sign this particular evening because the hitching-post racks at Turtle Bread were full, as was the wave rack across the street.

For those that are not familiar with bike corrals, these facilities claim one or two car parking spaces on the street. They are restricted for bike parking and can accommodate about 12 bikes in the space it takes to park one car. Assuming one person rides a bike to a commercial destination, and an average of two people travel by car to a commercial destination, that's a delta of 10 more customers per parking place.

We are in the very early stages of this project, but I am excited about it nonetheless. I end up at the intersection of 48th and Chicago for one reason or another almost daily, and I am most often on my bike, so a bike corral would be  the Cat's Pajama's for me. Unfortunately, I don't believe that one of these has been tried in Minneapolis yet.

If any reader has experience with bike corrals, or has thoughts on how to best implement this idea, please post a comment and let me know you thoughts.

We will change this world one parking space at a time.

Bike Love in England

Originally uploaded by overly curious bystander
Back in February, I gave a Shout Out to Our Foreign Friends, offering a MPLS Bike Love spoke card to anyone from a foreign country who followed this blog.

So far, I have had only one taker, my Flickr contact "Overly Curious Bystander". Overly Curious has some seriously killer bikes, including a Singular Peregrine that I am particularly envious of. I sent the spoke card off awhile ago, and the eagle has finally landed, as confirmed by this photo.

I am hoping he'll post a photo of this card in a place that's clearly and definitively in England. In the meantime, I am awaiting a little care package from him as well. I have been warned that Bike Culture in Southern England is scarce, but he promised to pound something out for me, so I am curious with the post will be delivering.

Rigtenzin - I have one for you as well if you are interested. Leave a message and I'll schedule a delivery for you.

That is all.

Mar 7, 2011

Improve the World and Quit Your Job

I will be the first to admit that it's not easy to maintain a decent blog. Most bloggers, including me, are part-time at best. In fact most of us have full time jobs, families and other hobbies beside blogging, and most never make a cent from our work. We have to fit it in whatever we do on the blog somewhere between dinner and bedtime, typically.

This part-time/unpaid status creates two problems for bloggers (and by extension, readers):
  1. Lack of new original content, and;
  2. Lack of time to locate interesting "borrowed" content
It's always more difficult to create than to copy or mimic. I think the best way to create new content is probably to go on epic rides, take killer pictures of the adventures, and then craft some funny, insightful prose to tell the tale to the world. In reality, if 9-5 wage slaves could do epic rides and take killer photos, they would be on staff at Outside magazine by now. What with this now being late winter, the only new bike content most of us can generate is some amusing anecdote about the last winter project we completed (replacing brake cables - fuck yeah!) or the foibles of winter bike commuting (the roads sucked and I fell down).

The lack of original content is exacerbated by lack of time on the blogger's part to locate and comprehend interesting or relevant information from other sources. With limited content coming into the (ugh) 'Blogosphere"the re-posters are left to sift through the bins for something that is both interesting and has not been done too many times before. Give me a comparison of Jobst Brandt versus Sheldon Brown on wheel building - I would read that. But nobody can do that kind of content because it's way too much work. Way too much. That damn Portlandia video of the bike messenger, on the other hand, is easy-peesy and oh so clever. I noticed that was on the Momentum website today. And they are a magazine for Pete's sake. Even the content-creators are linking at this point.

We have a content crisis on our hands. What this world needs is more content and less recycling. To do that, I think all the part-time bloggers with any potential at all should quit their jobs as soon as possible, start sponging off their spouses and families, and throw themselves headlong into blogging. Think about it - money and a job is only one aspect of life, and that would create opportunity for your co-workers you leave behind and lighten the overhead of your company. I am talking EPIC rides, wonderful "you" time to reflect and compose, and the unmitigated love of thousands of admiring readers who wish they could be, in some small way, just like you.

Be sure to let me know how that works for you...

Mar 6, 2011


Originally uploaded by Snak Shak
I walked around Macalester College this afternoon looking for a store I remember going to years ago. I found the store, Zimmerman's Dry Goods, but it was closed. Coffee News saved the day, but the real discovery was the shameful waste of abandoned bikes by (presumably) students at Macalester.

I saw probably four different racks of bikes plowed under and numerous other one- and two-bike racks with abandoned bikes in various stages of destruction. When the snow finally melts, these will be unrideable for sure.

I don't understand why people don't bother to donate these things to Sibley, MMRB. If that's too much hassle, just leave them in an alley with a "FREE" sign on them - somebody would gladly take what you cast aside. Hopefully, Public Works will come by with an angle grinder and cut these carcasses off so others can use the racks, but that's needless public expense and it's a blight on the neighborhood around Macalester.

Mar 4, 2011

Another Stupid Bike Game, Potentially

Unchained Polo from Mr.Do on Vimeo.

As we edge towards Spring, I am contemplating giving bike polo a try. I've secured a piece of pipe and an old ski pole, so I am a short drilling-and-bolt project away from having a mallet, and I already have a bike that would be suitable now in the stable to at least give this a try. I'll keep my eyes out for  a dedicated bike if I like it, but for now I think I'll roll into this on the winter bike singles speed.

I almost gave this a shot last summer, but work and life conspired against me. I'll probably make my mallet this weekend and try to practice on my own at McRae beforehand so I don't embarrass myself too badly. It's nice that the place they play is close to my house, as well. I have no idea if I'll be any good at this, but my slow speed bike handling skills are pretty good, so that's at least a start.

Anybody want to place bets on whether or not I"ll be posting about my newly-broken wrist sometime this year?

The video is by Minnesota's own Mr. Do. Enjoy!

Mar 3, 2011

Minneapolis Bicycle Advisory Committee Meeting on March 30

The next meeting of the Minneapolis Bicycle Advisory Committee will be on March 30. The agenda for that meeting is as follows:

Minneapolis BAC Agenda -- DRAFT 
March 30, 2011, 4 PM – 6 PM 
Room 101 City of Lakes Building (309 2nd Avenue South) 
 1. Member introductions and sign-in (4:00 – 4:10) 
2. Approve agenda and minutes (4:10 – 4:15) 
3. Downtown TMO: Zap commuter benefit system (4:15 – 4:30)  
4. Proposal for BAC Subcommittees (4:30 – 4:40) 
5. Bike Map additions, review, and discussion (4:40 – 5:40) 
6. Future Agenda Items (5:40 – 5:50) 
7. Announcements (5:50 – 6:00)  
Next Meetings:  April 25, May 25, June 29, July 27, August 31, September 28 
Interesting is the attachment to the meeting notice; in addition to the agenda, Don included a map (the graphic included in this post) which shows proposed bike facilities included in the draft bike plan. Clicking on the graphic does not enlarge it enough to be useful, but if you want a PDF copy, comment below with an email address or send me a message if you prefer (email via my profile) and I'll be happy to send you one.

Be well, have fun and don't waste time on regret.

Mar 2, 2011

Love (n)or Money

Winter Bike Blues
Originally uploaded by Snak Shak
As I was cleaning the salt and crud off of the winter bike last night and reconciling myself to the prospect of -3 degrees and a -20 windchill in the morning, I contemplated what in heaven's name brings expatriates such as me to the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Minnesota can be a challenge on a number of levels; the culture is "different" as we like to say here, and the weather is decidedly harsh. Smartwool base layers on March 2 is a case in point.

The answer, of course, is usually either love or money.

Expatriates are seldom lured to Minnesota by the quality of life, school systems, the enlightened thinking of its progressive peoples, or how gosh darn nice Minnesotans are, despite what they would tell you in mixed company. Here's a secret - invite a few expats to a Minnesota party and they will eventually find each other, identify as expats, and then head to a corner to talk about their adopted home and how they got here.

It's almost always either love or money. Sometimes school comes up, but usually it's love and/or money. They either met a nice young man/woman from Minnesota and moved there to be with them, or they got a job up here and relocated for that. It's certainly not the weather.

For me, it was both. I was looking for a job after college and my then-girlfriend was from Minnesota, so I included that state in my search. I finally got a job, she followed me, and before I knew it, I was a naturalized expatriate and married to a Minnesotan.

Despite my nearly 16 years in Minnesota, when asked where I am from, I still say "M'waukee". Force of habit, stubbornness or denial, I guess.

Mar 1, 2011

Bike Summit on Capitol Hill

I took yesterday off of work to participate in the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota's (BikeMN) inaugural Minnesota Bike Summit on Capitol Hill. This was an all-day event organized by BikeMN and supported by the usual sponsors (Dero, QBP, Erik's and Penn, etc.). The purpose of the event was to communicate BikeMN's legislative agenda for 2011 to the membership and the legislators and generate some enthusiasm for the year's work.

The day started with a cross-town bus adventure on the 133 and 94b. I had hoped to ride, but it was pretty seriously cold and the journey from So. MPLS to the Capitol was more than I wanted to take on at 5 degrees.

The morning session was devoted to communicating the legislative agenda (more on that below), training the membership on how to work with legislators, and updates from speakers including the BikeMN executive director, the mayor of Rochester (congratulations on the "bike friendly" designation, guys) and our own Jim Oberstar. Oberstar is an amazing speaker, and he's a good guy, too. He took my coffee cup for me because he was camped in front of the dirty-dish shoot. Sorry to do that to you, Mr. Oberstar.

After lunch, we moved to the Capitol Rotunda for a good pep rally with more speakers, then headed out to speak with our elected officials about the legislative agenda.

The 2011 BikeMN legislative agenda, in a nutshell, is as follows:

  • Increase Careless Driving Penalties - BikeMN supports increasing the penalty for causing great bodily harm, substantial bodily harm or death while committing a driving violation from a misdemeanor to a gross misdemeanor ($3,000 maximum fine and up to one year in jail). House bill is here; if you have a link to the Senate bill, let me know because all I can find are author reports.
  • Authorize the Mississippi River Trail State Bikeway - BikeMN supports the authorization of the Mississippi River Trail from Itasca to the Iowa border as a state bikeway.
  • Reauthorize Minnesota's Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) - BikeMN supports the reauthorization of SHIP at $20 million per year for the 2012/2013 biennium.
  • Fund Safe Routes to School Infrastructure Grants - BikeMN supports a bonding allocation of $3 million to the MN/DOT Safe Routes to SChool program in fiscal years 2012 and 2013.
This was an interesting day. I have done government affairs work through my day job (briefings at the DOE, Department of State, State energy advisory panels, etc.), but it's different to do this sort of thing close to home. I was also impressed with the turn-out; I heard that 150 people had pre-registered for this event and more registered at the door, bringing the total to about 175 people. That's powerful.

Follow along because it's going to be an interesting year on the bike advocacy front.

Winter Biking Interview on MPR

A friend was interviewed by MPR for a spot on winter biking that aired yesterday. Here is the link:

Despite harsh winter, more bicyclists make frigid commutes | Minnesota Public Radio News