Consider Biking leads Columbus delegation to Bikes Belong Leadership WorkshopJul 23rd, 2011 | By Jeff Stephens | Category: Bike Friendly Places, Leadership Musings, News, Resources
Together with Mayor Coleman, we’ve been brewing the idea of taking a delegation of Columbus leaders to a bike-friendly city for over a year. The Bikes Belong Foundation, along with other national advocacy leaders, have noticed the progressive work we’ve accomplished in Columbus, and identified Columbus, as one of the “up & coming” bicycle communities that the national organizations want to invest in and mentor.
The Bikes Belong Foundation called Consider Biking, and asked us to nominate and gather a delegation of influencial leaders to invite to a Bicycle Transportation Leadership Workshop in Minneapolis – Bicycling magazine’s #1 bicycle city in the US! Did you know that more people are riding bikes in Minneapolis in the dead of winter (where it’s colder than Moscow!)….than on any given summer day in Columbus? Amazing!
The Mayor was excited for this opportunity, and we selected Alan McKnight (Director of Recreation & Parks) and Nick Popa (Bicycle Project Engineer in Public Service) as our representatives from the City. We then extended the invitation to MORPC and identified Greg Bauchman, the City Engineer of Pickerington and a member of the MORPC Board. Consider Biking’s Board President & passionate business leader, Doug Morgan, provided a unique perspective. And lastly, I (Jeff Stephens) rounded out the group wearing several hats – leader of the bicycle advocacy organization and leader of the 2 City Commissions that entertain bicycle projects.
These representatives were selected based on their current level of enlightenment on bicycle-friendliness and their ability to leverage the lessons from this trip into actionable outcomes at a political and resource-development level. None of our gang of five, had recently seen a fully-articulated bike-friendly community. This trip was intended to open our eyes and make us say “wow….we can do this in Columbus!”
This trip was specifically developed to spark enlightenment for Columbus, Pittsburgh, and Indianapolis – the cities that Bikes Belong judges as the most progressive and ripe for opportunity. Representatives from Indianapolis couldn’t attend, so the other half of our group was from Pittsburgh. So…we had national advocates and a slew of Minneapolis leaders and bike industry leaders….doting over 10 folks from Columbus & Pittsburgh. This was a very special opportunity…and one for which we are grateful to the Bikes Belong Foundation!!
Rather than dive into all the details of the session, let me pass along a few highlights. We met the Mayor of Minneapolis, RT Rybeck, for our first hour. His passion for cycling, and the branding of Minneapolis as a bicycling city, was apparent. I loved his comment, “…we already have plenty of infrastructure & room on the roads…we just need to allocate it away from automobiles and more appropriately to bicyclists.” Wow!
We spent a great deal of time hearing the “Minneapolis Bicycle Story” from various members of their City staff, metropolitan planning organization, university, bike share program, and other partners that are channeling project funds from the Federal government. What struck me quickly, is that the City has committed a great deal of resources to provide not only engineering…but, also education & encouragement programs….the type programs we at Consider Biking develop from a non-profit angle. Minneapolis has dozens of public employees working on bicycle efforts; this commitment is certainly a factor in their extraordinary bicycle-friendliness!
We toured many of their engineering highlights using their bike-share system. (Which, by the way…we’re very eager to develop in Columbus) We saw dedicated lanes, pathways, painted lanes, cycletracks, bike/ped bridges, etc. Watching our 2 engineers snapping pictures and drooling over the translation of these facilities to Columbus roads…was priceless!
Thanks again to the Bikes Belong Foundation for honoring Columbus, and investing in our development. We have a fantastic foundation for success, and are well on our way to becoming a world class bicycle city.
For another perspective, and for more details, read Doug Morgans blog post here.