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Lawmakers Urged to Invest in Pedestrian, Bicycle Infrastructure

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Advocates are hoping lawmakers keep pedestrian and bicycle safety in mind when drafting a transportation plan. (Virginia Carter)
Advocates are hoping lawmakers keep pedestrian and bicycle safety in mind when drafting a transportation plan. (Virginia Carter)
 By Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MN, Contact
May 23, 2017

St. Paul, MN - Advocates are pressing lawmakers to keep the health benefits residents receive from biking to work, school and for recreation while debating transportation funding, saying active living is a critical component of improving health outcomes and reducing chronic diseases. Comments from Dorian Grilley, executive director of Bicycle Alliance Minnesota.

Nearly a quarter of adults in Minnesota ride their bikes at least once a week, and that number is even higher for those under 18. Seven in 10 walk daily in their community. Advocates are asking lawmakers to keep that in mind as they debate the active transportation bill. Increased funding for pedestrian and bicycle trails in the state has stalled for the past three years and Dorian Grilley of Bicycle Alliance Minnesota says a University of Minnesota study funded by the Department of Transportation found bicycle commuting in the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area alone prevents 12 to 61 deaths per year because of the increased health benefits riders get.

"The same study also found that the commuters in just the Twin Cities are saving hundreds of millions in health care costs every year. "

The study shows that in 2014, the bicycling industry generated 778-million dollars of economic activity, which includes 209-million in labor income and more than five-thousand jobs. Grilley says it's important to make sure every community has bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly trails, and adds many lower-income areas need better planning to make walking and biking safe for residents.

Grilley says Minnesota has a lot of bicycle-friendly roads, thanks to Mother Nature.

"Most of the communities in Minnesota, the roads were designed for snow and snow removal so they're wide, and there's plenty of space when there's no snow for bicycling and getting around. "

Grilley says while Minnesota lawmakers are considering making significant investments to update the state's transportation system, they need to make sure that not only are roads and bridges rebuilt and improved, but there are enough resources to make them safe for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Advocates are pressing lawmakers to keep the health benefits residents receive from biking to work, school and for recreation while debating transportation funding. Veronica Carter reports.

Carter reporting

Reach Grilley at: 651-387-2445. Info at: http://www.dot.state.mn.us/newsrels/17/01/10bicycling.html, http://www.bikemn.org/storage/documents/Active_Transportation_1Pager_5_6.pdf

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