During the month of April, RTC will be shining a spotlight on Minnesota, also known asL'Etoile du Nord, or "the star of the north." With an eye on people, projects and policies, we’ll be focusing on how this “Land of 10,000 Lakes” is moving toward a vision of a more walkable, bikeable and upwardly mobile state for its more than 5 million citizens and millions of visitors each year.
Smack dab in the middle of the radar is Move MN, a coalition dedicated to addressing critical transportation needs in the state. This diverse group of advocates is leading a charge to urge the Minnesota Legislature to pass a transportation funding package that would support: highway and bridge improvements, the development of regional transit systems and the expansion of safe, convenient bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.
On March 20, the group scored a victory by moving bill HF 2395 out of the House Transportation Finance Committee by a voice of nine to six. Bravo! Should this bill pass, an additional $16 million annually would be set aside for biking and walking infrastructure. Now the focus is on the Senate and Move MN is urging all Minnesotans to get involved. Learn more here.
A vote in the Minnesota Senate Transportation and Public Safety Committee is scheduled for April 2, 2014. If you’re a resident of Minnesota and your state senator is on the committee, click here to speak out for biking, walking and trails.
It’s not a surprise that Minnesota has its eye on active transportation. The state has long been known and hailed for its trail systems and biking allure; here are just a few great examples:
1. Minnesota was voted “Best Trails State” byAmerican Trails in 2010, and according to the Department of Natural Resources, there are more than 30,000 miles of recreational trails that support biking, walking, cross-country skiing, horseback riding, snowmobiling and more.
2. Minneapolis was selected by Congress as one of four communities included in the Non-Motorized Transportation Pilot Program and has outdone itself in increasing walking and biking in the Twin Cities area.
3. The state lays claim to the second-highest amount of rail-trail miles in the U.S., with 2,257 completed trails and 211 miles in progress. Incredible, considering only three states in the U.S. claim more than 2,000 miles of rail-trails!
4. Of the 14 rail-trails in the country spanning more than 100 miles, Minnesota claims 3—the Soo Line Trail Northern Route, the Soo Line Trail Southern Route (which runs into the Saunders State Trail) and the Blue Ox Trail (Voyageur Trail).
5. Minnesota and Minneapolis frequently top the most bike-friendly lists put out each year by the League of American Bicyclists for the way in which they create, promote and enforce a safe, convenient biking culture for people of all ages and abilities.
6. The Paul Bunyan State Trail—which runs for 112 miles between Lake Bemidji State Park and Brainerd—has become legendary for its hospitality, small-town charm, woodland beauty and horizon-spanning freshwater lakes. The hundreds of thousands of visitors the trail receives each year are a testament to the trail’s designation in 2011 as a Rail-Trail Hall of Fame inductee.
We look forward to following the North Star State as it works toward a brighter future for transportation—and active transportation—statewide. Stay tuned!