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Bikeable community workshop names priorities

Just what would need to be done to make the Cuyuna area bicyclist-friendly?

That question was posed Thursday during the area's first bikeable community workshop hosted Thursday in Crosby.

"There is a lot of work to do to make it a safer, easier place to bike and more," said Jenny Smith, president of the Cuyuna Lakes Trail Association (CLTA), which hosted the workshop.

The workshop was facilitated by the Minnesota Departments of Health and Transportation and the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota.

The goal: Make the Cuyuna region a more bikeable community.

At Thursday's meeting was a small group of representatives from the Cuyuna Range Economic Development Committee, Region Five Development Commission, Crow Wing County, interested residents, as well as others involved in economic development and health and wellness.

"It wasn't a big group, but the people there really are committed to making the community more bikeable," Smith said.

Smith wanted to host the workshop as a precursor to applying for the "bike friendly community" designation, which is handed out by the League of American Bicyclists to communities that meet a certain criteria.

It's an important honor that will pull in cyclists and visitors, Smith said.

There's still a lot of work to do before the Cuyuna area reaches the "bike friendly" status, she added. But the workshop was a first move in completing those needed steps.

Specifically, local officials need to address safety, she said. With two major highways running through Crosby, it's not always easy for bicyclists to cross.

"We even have a lot of people riding the wrong way on streets," Smith said. "It's a safety issue."

The group talked Thursday about the idea of engineering bicycle lanes and having designated streets for bicycles to make the roads "much more safe for both bicyclists and motorists," Smith said.

They want to work with the local police department to make sure bicyclists and motorists are both following the law when on the road.

"There are a lot of ways we can enhance everyone's experience biking in the community," she said.

The group wants to get bike safety in people's minds early on, even at the elementary school level by bringing classes into the curriculum.

The workshop highlighted ways local land use and transportation decisions affect biking habits, personal health and overall physical activity.

The next step for the group is to keep pressing toward the "bike friendly" status, as well as encouraging more people to choose a bicycle over a car when possible.

Tips for bicyclists:

• Ride on the right.

• Yield to traffic in busier lanes.

• Yield to traffic in destination lane.

• Always ride in a straight line; do not swerve between parked cars.

• Follow the same rules as motorists, including yielding right-of-way and signaling.

• Always ride outside the door zone when passing parked cars.

• Avoid cars that run red lights by waiting for the signal to turn green and scan to make sure it's clear.

Source: League of American Bicyclists

Jessie Perrine
Jessie covers the Brainerd City Council and the Brainerd School Board. Born and raised in southern Minnesota, Jessie attended Winona State University, where she majored in journalism with a minor in women and gender studies. She worked at the Winona Daily News, Tomah Journal and the La Crosse Tribune before starting at the Dispatch in 2012.
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