Most people know that I am a champion for pedestrians and bikes. There are many good reasons to support biking in general. There are the very real health benefits, there is the reduction in congestion and pollution, there is the economic empowerment of not having to rely on a car. What many don’t realize is that biking is also serious business for a community.
Rochester has 4 major bike shops generating a large number of jobs and taxes. We have a great recreations bike system. We have a cyclists that use their bike for year round transportation. I have often said that we have a great bike system, as long as you don’t need to get anywhere. We are rapidly changing that, though. Building off our underlying routes we are closing gaps and addressing safety issues. Soon you will be able to go from Pine Island to the Mayo Clinic safely on a bike.
As we look towards the future here is what I would like the city to do.
- Continue to fill in gaps in the system and address unsafe intersections like “Death Triangle” at Broadway and 14th street North.
- Create direct and safe routes using a combination of trails and lanes between all parts of the community per our approved bicycle masterplan.
- Create trails connection to current and future recreational trails in the area.
- Ensure sure every child has a safe bike ride to a park and their school.
- Increase the bicycle mode share of people working downtown.
- Increase bicycle parking.
- Work to expand nice ride MN to Rochester, focusing on the Mayo, St. Mary’s, Apache Mall, Recreation Center, and County Campuses.
- Complete the Bluestem trail to Stewartville, the Stagecoach trail to Byron, and future trail to Chester Woods.
- Continue to educate the driving and cycling populations to obey the laws of the road.
- Become a Gold level bicycle community.
Given our great underlying network and scenic beauty, the Rochester area could be to bikes what the BWCAW is to canoes. At $20,000 per spot for downtown structured parking, achieving the same bicycle commuter percentages as Minneapolis, Portland, or Seattle would save tens of millions in capital costs. Here is some information on the business of biking.