The 2023 BikeMN Legislative Agenda

The Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota works on state-wide efforts to make biking better. They have a list of priorities for this year’s legislative session, and you can help them bring it about!

Episode summary

00:00 | Intro
02:50 | Bike Walk Summit
10:44 | Bill Dooley Bicycle Safety Act
BikeMN legislative agenda
29:09 | Funding
34:13 | eBike subsidy
39:04 | Speed cameras
42:02 | Misc
49:36 | Outro

Attributions

Our theme song is Tanz den Dobberstein, and our interstitial song is Puck’s Blues. Both tracks used by permission of their creator, Erik Brandt. Find out more about his band The Urban Hillbilly Quartet on their website.

This episode was hosted, edited, and transcribed by Ian R Buck. If you’re interested in helping to create the show, we’re looking for people to take on transcriptions and editing for occasional episodes.

Copyright

The Streets.mn Podcast is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives license. Feel free to republish the episode as long as you don’t alter it and you aren’t profiting from it.

Transcript

Ian: [00:00:00] This episode is dedicated to the memory of Bill Dooley. Welcome to the Streets.mn Podcast, the show where we highlight how transportation and land use can make our communities better places. Coming to you from beautiful Frogtown St Paul, Minnesota. I am your host, Ian R Buck. It’s legislative season at the state Capitol, and today we’ll be chatting with Dorian Grilliey to hear about the legislative agenda of the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota. They’ve got some good stuff in store and they’re hosting a bike walk summit day at the Capitol where you can come and help advocate for your legislators to support these efforts. Let’s hear all about it.

Dorian: [00:00:40] I’m Dorian Grilley. I’ve been the executive director of the Bicycle Alliance since the organization was started about 14 years ago. What was missing in Minnesota was an organization to advocate for bicycling as transportation. We’ve since added biking and walking and rolling to that mission. And but we also decided that one of the things that was not happening and should be happening in Minnesota is bike education. Safe routes to school education wasn’t really getting off the ground. That needed a big jumpstart. And we found a great partner and Blue Cross Blue Shields Center for Prevention and of course, the Department of Transportation. To get that jump started, we helped create an elementary school safety curriculum called Walk Bike Fun. Now it’s been expanded to middle school, so we’re excited about working to expand that curriculum. We also do adult education and have a partnership and contract with the Metropolitan Council to do the Adult Learn to Ride program that was started by the nonprofit Cycles for Change, which closed in 2019. We hope to expand that statewide, and we have been working with communities all over Minnesota to achieve a bicycle friendly ranking in partnership with the Department of Health and their local public health people. And the reason they like the bike friendly community program is it’s basically the idea that you can’t just build it and hope that people come. You have to do education and community engagement that maximizes your investment in infrastructure.

Ian: [00:02:40] Yeah.

Dorian: [00:02:40] So that’s kind of what BikeMN is all about.

Ian: [00:02:43] In a nutshell. And so the big exciting thing that we have coming up right now for BikeMN is the bike Walk summit on the Capitol. I remember I went to the one in 2020 that was pretty much like one of the last things that I did before we started shutting stuff down in the state for the pandemic. So, yeah, let’s let’s talk a little bit about about that event. What are people if somebody comes and attends, what can they expect to see there?

Dorian: [00:03:18] Well, we’re very excited to be back in person and inviting people to come and lobby their legislators that afternoon of February 9th. In the morning, we’ll spend a couple hours briefing the attendees, whether they’re virtual attendees or in-person attendees on what what the legislative agenda is all about, which we’ll talk about in a little bit, and how to work with legislators, others, and and make your best argument, whether it’s a public health argument, whether it’s a climate argument, whether it’s “this is really important for our community.” That’s what we hope to do in the morning. And we’ll have some great speakers, including Kate Knuth. She was a candidate for mayor in the last election in Minneapolis, but she is known as Climate Citizen and she’s done a lot of great reporting and research about climate action plans in Minnesota. And Trista Mattas-Castillo will be also a speaker. She’s the chair of the Ramsey County board talking about why this is important in Ramsey County. We’ll have other speakers, including the bill authors and Chair Hornstein and Chair Dibble. The chairs of the House and Senate Transportation Committees will be there to brief you on on how best to approach the legislature and show your support.

Ian: [00:04:58] Yeah, and actually mentioning Dibble and Hornstein does remind me that, like we are in a unique position this year that we have a DFL trifecta in the House and the Senate and the governorship, which has not been the case in over ten years. It’s been a while.

Dorian: [00:05:19] It’s been eight years that Senator Newman from Hutchinson was the chair of the Transportation Committee. He was a Republican who believed that bicyclists did not pay gasoline tax and and therefore really didn’t have a right to use the roads. So he basically ignored all of our requests to even change simple things in the policy to make it safer for people who are bicycling.

Ian: [00:05:56] Yeah. Isn’t it comforting when the chair of the Transportation Committee doesn’t even understand like where the funding sources for streets comes from? Yeah.

Dorian: [00:06:06] Very, very frustrating. And we’re very lucky to have somebody who’s been a supporter of BikeMN for since since we were founded as the chair of both committees. Chair Hornstein and Chair Dibble are very supportive and will be very excited to at least share some of that big $17 Billion surplus for bicycling and walking.

Ian: [00:06:37] Yeah. Okay. So yeah, this is it’s a very like structured day, you know, home base is, is that Lutheran church that’s like right across the street from the state capitol. So like when somebody registers your staff at BikeMN and then looks up like, okay, who is that person’s senator and and representative and schedules meetings with them for you. And so like any time that you are not scheduled to go and meet with your legislators, you can hang out at the church and chat with other bike advocates from across the state. It’s a vibe. It’s a fun time.

Dorian: [00:07:18] And we will have roundtable discussions in the fellowship hall and the basement of the church talking about mobility, justice, or public health or climate, safe routes to school, active transportation planning. If you just want to brush up on your knowledge about what’s going on around Minnesota or share some stories from your community, that will be the place to do it. And if this is a first time for you, we will send an experienced advocate and or BikeMN staff person with you to your meeting with your legislator to help you make sure that you’re clearly explained what we’re after.

Ian: [00:08:00] Yeah. Yeah. It it’s it’s a little nerve wracking to meet with your with your state senator for the first time.

Dorian: [00:08:08] It can be intimidating. I’ve been doing it so long that my message is simply that they’re your neighbors. Mm hmm. And. And we will let you know whether they’re your friend or whether you have to really make an argument or target your argument. One of the one of the fun things to note is that the first biking and walking bill. 10 million for safe routes to school introduced by the Republican senator from Stillwater and the Republican senator from just north of Rochester.

Ian: [00:08:48] Yeah. So yeah. Having having that statewide support.

Dorian: [00:08:53] And bipartisan support. Mm hmm. And that’s that’s a way. Safe routes to school has evolved into a very bipartisan issue. So we can take advantage of that and use that as a lead if you’re meeting with a member of the Republican caucus. Yeah, some are very supportive. Some are not so supportive, and we’ll be able to brief you on that.

Ian: [00:09:16] Now, chances are, if if you are you the listener, if you are a constituent of a Republican legislator, I’m guessing that you are coming from farther away than I am, right? I live like a five minute bike ride away from the state capitol. So it’s very easy for me to to attend. But Dorian, I believe that you guys have like scholarships and stuff for folks who are, you know. Right. That that have barriers to attend.

Dorian: [00:09:46] Right. And the other is that, yes, we have scholarships for people who are traveling from greater distances than 5 minutes away. And our chapter organizations, many of them have funding that could be used for sending people to the bike box summit. We have, for example, we have chapters in Rochester, in Mankato, Fergus Falls. So people from far away will be attending. And actually the the groups from the chapter called We Bike Rochester will be speaking and talking about what they’ve been doing in Rochester as local volunteer advocates and how they leverage their relationship with BikeMN to get even more done.

Ian: [00:10:38] Excellent. All right, So let’s let’s dive into yeah, what we are asking of our legislators this year. What’s our what’s our agenda? So the main part is we have the Bill Dooley Bicycle Safety Act, which amends several different parts of different different laws. Right. It’s it’s got it’s got a lot of different legs that it’s standing on.

Dorian: [00:11:08] First, let me start and tell you a little bit about who Bill Dooley was.

Ian: [00:11:12] Yeah, please.

Dorian: [00:11:13] Bill Dooley retired at age 55 from being a professional lobbyist for an insurance company in order to spend all of his time as a volunteer advocate for biking, walking and transit. Bill was the chair of our legislative committee and our advocacy committee for many years. He did a wonderful job of keeping all of our members and and many public officials posted about issues from around the country and how they may impact us here in Minnesota. So we ask the bill author, who is Representative Steve Elkins from Bloomington, is having it drafted. And then we’ll have a chief author in the Senate introduced the companion bill. So we asked the the chief author to have it named after Bill Dooley. And he wholeheartedly agreed. Yeah. So that bill is an omnibus bill, which means it talks about policy and funding, and it’s really a roll up of all the things that we’ve been trying to get done for the last several years and weren’t able to do because the chair of the Senate committee would not hear a bicycling bill.

Ian: [00:12:41] Right? Yeah, I do remember some of these things being topics during 2020.

Dorian: [00:12:46] Yeah. So when the bill should be introduced next week and it’ll be posted on our website for you to take a look. So that would be the week after Martin Luther King Day. Yes. And it starts out with something that we’ve been thinking about for a long time. Right now, schools must teach biking and or must teach bus safety. And but the law only says that they may teach biking and walking safety. We would like to simply change that may to must. And the first part of the bill defines that program in pretty good detail. But our argument against anyone who says, “Wait, this is an unfunded mandate,” is simply the minimum right now for bus safety is they send a flyer home in the kid’s backpack. That could also be the same thing for biking and walking. We will prepare a flyer in partnership with MnDOT We already have those flyers in Hmong, Spanish, Somali and English, so they would only need slight revision to to serve this mandate. And we just think it’s it’s an essential safety tool to make sure that kids can get around their community safely. So after the bill talks about that changing made a must for bike safety education, it talks about giving local units of government more authority to set speed limits right now.

Ian: [00:14:34] Specifically near schools. Right. I think that was the target.

Dorian: [00:14:38] Yes. But there will be other bills that give them more authority on county roads and state roads that are in near schools or whatever. And right now, the minimum speed limit by law on a county road, if it goes by your school or through your downtown or a state road is 30 miles an hour. So that’s just not an acceptable speed. And so anyway, giving local units more authority and then it shifts into active transportation policy and it talks about making sure that MnDOT takes the lead on helping communities with whatever resources, whether it’s planning technical assistance to do biking and walking and active transportation planning right now. MnDOT that’s doing a great job. Of doing that. But we want to make sure that if the administration changes the legislature, changes that it is in state statute that MnDOT continue to take the lead in assisting communities. Yeah.

Ian: [00:15:59] Establishing that framework.

Dorian: [00:16:01] Yeah, yeah, yeah. Like I said, they’re doing a great job now. We just want to make sure that continues because there’s been a few blips along the way. Following that, it formally creates the Minnesota State bike route system.

Ian: [00:16:21] And so none of those exist. Currently.

Dorian: [00:16:25] They are designated by the Department of Transportation, not by the legislature.

Ian: [00:16:31] Okay.

Dorian: [00:16:31] So the Mississippi River Trail, the Northstar Bike route, and the one that will was just planned from the Twin Cities to Fargo. Will will become official state bike routes and hopefully quite a few more in the coming years. And we are also asking the legislature to name the one that goes from the Twin Cities to the Canadian border. After former Congressman Jim Oberstar, who represented Northeast Minnesota in Washington, D.C., for 38 years as a member of Congress and he was the person that really transformed the federal highway bill into a multi modal funding program and policy bill policy program and and put now probably billions. That was 30 years ago. It’s now billions has been invested in biking and walking all over the country. And he was the champion of getting that started at a whole new level.

Ian: [00:17:43] Very nice. Now does does designating these as state bike routes, does that like open new resources for, you know, for for improving those routes or anything? Because when I think about the the Mississippi River trail and the North Star bike route in their in their current form you know some segments are nice off street trails. Other segments are like, well, okay, I’m on a county road now, right? Yeah. And it’s kind of you know, and in some places it’s weird because like, you know, the Mississippi River trail is defined on the Minnesota side of the river. But for a lot like a long section from like Hastings on down to lacrosse, like, I personally feel more comfortable riding on the Wisconsin side of the river. So, like, yeah, what like, what are we what are we looking at here for for improvements in those in those legislatively defined routes?

Dorian: [00:18:37] Basically, it would give MnDOT the authority to continue planning those and working with local units of government to do improvements. I don’t know that we’re ever going to do anything better than a big wide shoulder on Highway 61. There are quite a few communities that are working along the Mississippi River that are trying to do off road trails, right? So we might be able to do some improvements there. But for a long time it’s going to be on the shoulder of Highway 61, and I couldn’t agree more. The Wisconsin side has been designated as the Wisconsin by Department of Transportation as the Mississippi River Trail. So you. Can use either or. Yeah. Or you can snag back and forth, but you do have to be comfortable. Fortunately, Highway 61 has a big wide shoulder on it. I think it’s 12 feet wide, so it’s even wider than most other shoulders in the state. So if you’re a confident cyclist and you want to go to Red Wing and you want to go to La Crescent, you can ride down the Minnesota side.

Ian: [00:19:52] Yeah, Yeah.

Dorian: [00:19:55] So there are some other things in the bill. And so after the after the state bike routes, it moves into more policy. And we’ve been trying to make it safer for people biking and walking for years and again have been blocked with doing things like changing the riding rules where it says a cyclist must ride as far to the right as practicable.

Ian: [00:20:24] What a great word.

Dorian: [00:20:25] Yes, I know it’s been there since the 1970s and things have changed a lot since the 1970s, and that word is interpreted differently all over the state. Some law enforcement people think it means you must ride as far as possible. To the right. Others are accepting with. As far to the right, as safe as determined by the bicyclists. So we’d like to change it to as far to the right, as safe as determined by the bicyclist.

Ian: [00:20:55] Yes.

Dorian: [00:20:56] So that would, I think, make it a lot safer and eliminate any chance of a cyclist being hassled when they’re riding. They’re not riding on the really bumpy rock strewn shoulder of of Highway 61, for example. Sometimes it’s in pretty rough shape. The other thing is that we want to make sure that it’s legal for a bicyclist to ride through a right turn lane. Right now, the law technically requires that you go around a right turn lane and you pull out of that right turn lane on a busy county road that has a really nice shoulder that’s interrupted with right turn lanes. Right. And, you know, nobody’s getting a ticket for doing that, at least that I know of. But the issue is, if there’s a crash, if someone turns left and hits you after you’ve ridden through a right turn lane, it’s your fault. And this would change that from being it’s not your fault if somebody turns left and hits you.

Ian: [00:22:05] Right. So and that really illustrates that, like, like all of these changes to the road, like, you know, the rules of the road section of this bill is that these are all like common sense, like best practices already. And this and this bill is just codifying like, yes, this is what you’re expected to do. You are not expected to leave the shoulder, go into the travel lane when a right turn lane appears in front of you, you continue straight in the direction you were going. And because if you’re if you’re starting to, like, weave in and out of the shoulder because there’s a right turn lane like drivers behind you like that’s that’s unexpected behavior.

Dorian: [00:22:48] Right. Correct. The other the other thing in that policy part of the bill is that we would like to join the 12 other states that have codified in state law the Idaho stop.

Ian: [00:23:02] Idaho stop!

Dorian: [00:23:04] Meaning that bicyclists do not have to come to a complete stop and put their foot down at a stop sign If the intersection is clear and they have slowed to a point where they can clearly determine that. So it’s not a license to just blow through a stop sign. Right. And and I hope to work with law enforcement to make sure that the message is out, that it’s not just you don’t have to stop. You still have to yield the right of way. You have to understand the traffic laws. Yeah. And you don’t have to expect or you can’t expect that drivers are going to yield the right of way when you’re breaking the law, right? Yeah.

Dorian: [00:23:56] So there’ll be a lot of education involved, but I hope it will elevate and and again, eliminate the issue that if a bicyclist doesn’t come to a complete stop and there’s a crash and the driver is the one that has failed to yield the right of way, that it isn’t the bicyclists fault.

Ian: [00:24:19] Right. Yeah.

Dorian: [00:24:20] So that’s that’s why we support the Idaho stop and why it’s become law in 12 other states, including many much busier East Coast states. It’s not just Idaho, the libertarian state. It’s Delaware and and other places where traffic is much higher.

Ian: [00:24:48] Yeah, yeah. And it’s it also, like, interacts nicely with a lot of other details about like, like, for example, I live near the Charles Avenue Bikeway here, Bike Boulevard here in Saint Paul. And one of the like things that the city did when designing this bike boulevard to discourage drivers from using it is there’s a stop sign pretty much every single block. And as a cyclist, I’m like, well, I also don’t want to have to stop every single block because it takes a lot of energy to start going again. And so, yeah, being allowed to slow down verified that there’s not no danger coming from either direction for me. And continuing through like that makes those bicycle boulevards much more attractive for me to use. As they’re designed.

Dorian: [00:25:42] Especially on one like Charles Avenue, where it’s a low volume street. Yes. That crosses a lot of low volume streets.

Ian: [00:25:51] So, yeah, there’s hardly ever anybody crossing Charles Avenue. Yeah, right.

Dorian: [00:25:56] Yeah. It makes a lot of sense. So the last policy thing.

Ian: [00:26:01] Oh. Oh, there was one other thing that caught my attention that the passing distance, which is currently the minimum passing distance, when a vehicle when a motor vehicle is passing, a cyclist is three feet. Correct. I think it’s like it’s like safe, safe distance and at least three feet. And the bill adds a little note about either three feet or half of the width of the motor vehicle, whichever is greater.

Dorian: [00:26:28] And it also adds that it’s preferred that safe distance is preferred crossing all the way into the other lane. If it’s safe to do so.

Ian: [00:26:42] Right? Yes.

Dorian: [00:26:43] So it’s it’s again, elevating that passing law to not just blowing by you at three feet at 55 miles an hour. It’s it’s moving into the other lane. It’s slowing to pass you. Or assisting law enforcement by saying half the width of the vehicle, right?

Ian: [00:27:06] Yeah, because I don’t want to be passed by a semi truck at the same width or at the same distance as like somebody in a little smart car. Yeah.

Dorian: [00:27:15] Yeah, absolutely. So and again, moving on to the the last thing policy wise in the bill is a couple of years ago the MnDOT’s Committee, which started out as the State Bike Advisory Committee, then turned into the state Non-motorized Advisory Committee Non-motorized Transportation Advisory Committee was let sunset. You know, it had to be reauthorized every ten years. And with the Republican leadership in the Senate, they just simply let it sunset and didn’t reauthorize it. Right. We would like to reauthorize Dot’s Advisory Committee and simply call it the Active Transportation Advisory Committee.

Ian: [00:28:03] And the structure would be pretty much the same as it was before. I saw a lot of details about like no more than 18 members. They have to come from these different sources, etc., etc.. Is that all pretty much the same as it was ten?

Dorian: [00:28:15] Yes, it was. Yes, it is. And the idea is that there’s a representative from each MnDOT district from around the state and it’ll cost even less because they used to provide expenses for people driving into the Twin Cities for these meetings. But now, thanks to the pandemic, everybody should use the meeting and maybe they’ll only have to meet once a year in person and they can do the rest of the meetings virtually. I think it’s it’s a much easier way to recruit people because it’s a long trip from northwest Minnesota into the Twin Cities for a couple hour meeting.

Ian: [00:29:01] Absolutely. Yeah.

Dorian: [00:29:09] The last thing in the Bill, is the exciting part. Funding the appropriations. Yes. And so all the the funding parts in this bill are basically just recommendations to the full Transportation committee. And they will be what’s formally known as rolled over for inclusion in the omnibus transportation policy and funding bill. So there’s a there’s there’s the bike walk omnibus bill, and there’ll be a big omnibus transportation bill which includes transit, roads and bridges and all the other policy and funding. So it’ll be a very big bill. But anyway, we are requesting $50 Million as a one time appropriation for biking and walking $25 Million for ongoing funding for the MnDOT active transportation program, meaning that would be a general fund appropriation every year to MnDOT for their active transportation program. Unlike the bonding bill, that general fund appropriation can be used for that education and community engagement work in addition to building infrastructure. So that’s why we want it to be ongoing. It’s also could be used as a source of a match for the 50 to 60 or $70 Million that comes to Minnesota as part of the Federal Transportation Alternatives program, which much of requires a 20% match.

Dorian: [00:31:05] So it could be used as that local match, state match and communities could apply for it. We also are requesting 10 million same concept general fund money for the Safe Routes to School program at MnDOT. And one of the things that I will be using in my testimony in support of this is the National Safe Routes Partnership has been promoting a study, some research that’s been done, academic research that’s been done that shows for schools all around the country, if you invest in infrastructure, kids bike and walk 18% more. If you invest in education, kids bike and walk 25% more. And if you do education and infrastructure, they bike 31% more. Nice. So and the the the difference there is that education costs statewide costs hundreds of thousands of dollars when you’re leveraging a program, an existing pilot program or an existing public health program in a school and infrastructure costs tens of millions. Right. So you’re investing a couple hundred thousand to maximize your investment in in tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions over the years and maybe even billions over the years in infrastructure for biking and walking.

Ian: [00:32:43] Yeah. And and how does this like you know, because the numbers we’re looking at here like, you know in total I think add up to a little bit less than 100 million like how does that compare to MnDOT’s total budget? You know, how does it compare to like adding a highway interchange to somewhere and in the exurbs?

Dorian: [00:33:06] Well, the the Stillwater Bridge cost nearly a billion.

Ian: [00:33:12] Right.

Dorian: [00:33:13] Interchange of Highway 169 and 494 cost 750 million. I do want to qualify that the one time appropriation is very, very likely because of the $17 Billion surplus. The ongoing appropriation is almost certainly not going to be 25 million for active transportation and and one and 10 million for safe routes to school. Right now MnDOT’s base budget for safe routes to school is a million and a half from the general fund, and it’s zero for active transportation. So we are hoping to increase those numbers significantly. But I don’t want to get anyone’s hopes up that they’ll be 25 million and 10 million, right?

Ian: [00:34:06] Yeah. All right. So I think that’s it for the Bill Dooley Safety Act itself. Yes. And there are a couple of other things that that BikeMN is supporting this session. E-bike subsidy was one of them. I don’t know any details about this. Tell me about it.

Dorian: [00:34:31] Yes, that’ll probably be a standalone bill. And again, it will be rolled over for inclusion in the omnibus transportation policy and and funding bill. We are going to start out by asking for $10 Million for e-bike rebates and infrastructure. We hope to do some charging infrastructure with priority being placed on multifamily housing to help ensure that a tragedy like happened in New York City where somebody was charging an e-bike battery in a apartment building and it caught fire, burned the building down and killed several people.

Ian: [00:35:21] Whoa.

Dorian: [00:35:22] So so we want to make sure that part of it is used for charging infrastructure. But I think one of the most important things is making e-bikes affordable for low income people. Right. They’re not inexpensive tools, but we want to make them more affordable to ensure that people who live in the city and are commuting to a job have that alternative and and include some education that says parking is not an issue, much less if you’re riding your bike to work. So we hope to do that.

Ian: [00:36:09] So like when somebody goes into a shop, you know, and they want to use this e-bike rebate, like is it is it a like fixed dollar amount per bike that they would get? Or is it like a percentage of the price of the bike? Like, what are we looking at there?

Dorian: [00:36:25] It’s going to be a fixed dollar amount up to a certain percentage of the value of the bike. We are we haven’t determined that yet. We’re researching programs from all over the country right now and we’ll have the bill drafted probably sometime in the next month. But that’ll be plenty of time because the legislative session goes until mid-May.

Ian: [00:36:50] Yeah. On the topic of like charging infrastructure, I’m curious to know, like what what we’re looking at there, because as far as I know, as somebody who does not own an e-bike, like you can just plug it into any wall outlet, Right? Right. So like, what what what kind of infrastructure are we looking to add?

Dorian: [00:37:09] It might very well be lockers where you could take your e-bike battery off your bike and put it in. You don’t have your have your charger in a locker that’s safely in the plaza outside your apartment building.

Ian: [00:37:28] Yeah. Nice. The other thing that I love about like, like subsidy programs for bike stuff and this definitely applies to e-bikes is because we have several like of the biggest bike companies in the country housed here in Minnesota like providing subsidies for products that they sell is also like an economic driver here in the state. Yes. Besides, besides, just like providing people with an awesome form of transportation that increases economic gains just by virtue of allowing people to get around easily.

Dorian: [00:38:08] So we were we were working with advocacy organizations all over the country to try and make sure that it was part of the federal bill. But when it got significantly reduced, it, the E-bike tax credit got deleted.

Ian: [00:38:24] Right? Right.

Dorian: [00:38:25] So states, quite a few states. Again, a dozen states have implemented this. Some just at at the local big city level. But we we think it’s the right thing to do. We think it’s something appropriate to use the part of the surplus for. And it’s something that could be included not only in a transportation bill but in a climate bill.

Ian: [00:38:57] Yeah, absolutely.

Ian: [00:39:04] Speed cameras.

Dorian: [00:39:06] So there there are other partners out there that we work with, including the Minnesota Safety Council, who’s going to be introducing an omnibus traffic safety bill. And one of the things that will be included in that omnibus traffic safety bill is a speed camera pilot program in work zones. We’d like to see it more broadly applied because we feel speed cameras don’t discriminate. They take the the law enforcement officer out of the out of the equation. And there are communities, specifically the city of Minneapolis, who are going to be pursuing a more aggressive and broader speed camera bill. So we don’t have the details there. But in general, we will support speed camera bills and most of the things that the Minnesota Safety Council, you know, they’re continually working to incrementally make our roads safer with the Vision Zero goal in mind.

Ian: [00:40:17] Yeah, cause there’s a bit of history there, right? Like Minneapolis tried to do speed. Was it speed cameras or was it red light cameras?

Dorian: [00:40:25] Red light cameras, yeah.

Ian: [00:40:27] Yeah.

Dorian: [00:40:28] Same concept.

Ian: [00:40:29] They had to stop because state law does not.

Dorian: [00:40:35] Found unconstitutional.

Ian: [00:40:35] Yeah. Yeah. So fixing that loophole there. Yes.

Dorian: [00:40:40] And we’ll also be working with the Transportation Forward Coalition with other leader advocacy organizations like Move Minnesota and the Sierra Club to support funding for biking and walking transit, biking and walking in the metro area. And in greater Minnesota communities. The metro area, the proposal has been to fund it with a local sales tax, which has been implemented in cities all over the country but not implemented in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. So we’ll be working to support that. We’ll also be supporting the Parks and Trails Council of Minnesota, which lobbies the Environment Committee. And the Environment Committee is the one that proposes bonding or just funding out of the surplus for trails around the state and trail grant programs. So we don’t specifically lobby the Environment Committee because the Parks and Trails Council exists and does a really good job of it on behalf of trail users.

Ian: [00:41:54] Mm hmm. Excellent. Anything else that’s happening this year? I think I think that covers everything. All the notes that I took.

Dorian: [00:42:07] Yeah, I think that’s pretty much it. There’s always going to be stuff that appears some of it will need to strongly oppose. Some of it will. We’ll need to support or will wholeheartedly support. For example, a constituent asked a legislator, a constituent whose son was tragically hit from behind and killed a couple of years ago, asked the legislature to introduce a bill that said cyclists, bicyclists under 16 need to ride against traffic.

Ian: [00:42:49] Oh oh no.

Dorian: [00:42:51] And needless to say, we had to oppose that and and politely point out that that would be contrary to law. In all, 50 states. The representative has agreed to not push that bill, and and we will work with their constituent, of course, to support our safety initiatives which have been acknowledged as best practices all over the country.

Ian: [00:43:25] Right.

Dorian: [00:43:26] Yeah. So those are the kind of things that we need to jump on. There was a bill a couple of years ago that required bicyclists to have a license if they.

Ian: [00:43:39] Yeah. Oh, no. Have like, I hope that like mandatory helmet laws have never come up in Minnesota. I’m sure they probably have, haven’t they?

Dorian: [00:43:49] People have approached us and said, why don’t you support a mandatory helmet law? And our simple message has been that we feel education is the solution for encouraging people to use helmets and that the public health benefit of people riding far outweighs the risk of the few people that ride without helmets.

Ian: [00:44:16] Yeah, yeah. Actually the helmets thing does bring me to one of the one of my pitches for you for future years, because when I think about like, like not having a helmet, I think about using bike shares, I think about using scooter shares. Do like what? What are your thoughts on having legislation that clarifies like whether or not electric scooters follow bicycle laws? Because because I think that’s a gray area for a lot of people that it’s like, oh, like I know that the scooter share says that I’m not supposed to use the sidewalk, but like, how am I supposed to use it in a road? Do I follow all the same rules as a bicyclist?

Dorian: [00:45:01] Yeah, we have yet to study the best practices from around the country. Right? But that’s probably a good initiative that we will work on in coming years, right?

Ian: [00:45:17] Yeah, because not all electric scooters are made the same. Et cetera, etc.. Some of them go fast, Some of them don’t. Yeah, Yeah.

Dorian: [00:45:24] Absolutely. And you know, there may be a legislator that get again asked by a constituent, which may be a community or a city to clarify that this year. And like I said, we’ve got until May, we may be able to address that issue. It’s just not happening in the first couple of weeks of the session.

Ian: [00:45:46] Right? Yeah, Another another topic that I’ve seen coming up a lot in the Urbanist community lately has been like banning right turns on red, which I, I have not seen any like unified push for that but it is it is a conversation that is happening right now.

Dorian: [00:46:07] I think we would support that we do we simply don’t have the clout or the coalition and consensus among the the road authorities that that’s the right thing to do.

Ian: [00:46:22] Right.

Dorian: [00:46:23] The other thing that we would likely support is decriminalizing jaywalking. It it it’s one of those laws that that’s rarely enforced right now and again, probably only enforced or mostly enforced when somebody else is doing something else that law enforcement is interested in stopping them for sure. So we want to decriminalize jaywalking and we’ll be working with legislators to maybe include that in that omnibus transportation policy and funding bill.

Ian: [00:47:01] Now. Okay. Decriminalizing jaywalking, would that would that mean that a pedestrian has the right of way, no matter where they’re crossing the street? Or does that just mean that like it is it is an offense that would not have a. Like like it would it would it would be like a misdemeanor instead of like a whatever.

Dorian: [00:47:21] Right. It would. It’s the latter. A pedestrian would not have the right of way if they’re popping out from between a car in the middle of the block in a in a busy downtown.

Ian: [00:47:34] Right.

Dorian: [00:47:35] But but law enforcement wouldn’t be able to write them a ticket for doing it if they did so safely.

Ian: [00:47:41] Yes. Yes. Because. Yeah, cause currently you you can legally cross the street anywhere on the block as long as there’s no vehicles approaching. Like you just don’t have the right of way, right? Yeah. Right. Yeah.

Dorian: [00:47:56] Well, thank you for the opportunity to discuss all this with you.

Ian: [00:48:01] Absolutely. Yeah. Thanks for. Thanks for taking some time on a beautiful Friday.

Dorian: [00:48:06] And I’ll do some riding.

Ian: [00:48:08] Absolutely. Yeah. And one more time. Okay. So what day is the bike walk summit at the Capitol?

Dorian: [00:48:14] February 9th. We get started with the program at 10:00. We’ll be done by noon. We provide lunch and we’ll have snacks and social time networking time from 9 to 10 at the church. Yep, it’s at Christ Lutheran Church. And you can find the registration right on our home page at [https://bikemn.org].

Ian: [00:48:39] Yep. And bike valet is provided. I noticed that on the volunteers form.

Dorian: [00:48:43] Yes. It will have bike racks to lock your bike to. I don’t know if it’s a cold day. We may not ask somebody to stand out there all day long, so please bring your lock. But we’ll have extra bike racks for you to lock your bike to right outside the church.

Ian: [00:49:04] Awesome. Yep. Oh, and there’s there’s a get together afterwards at bad weather brewing, right?

Dorian: [00:49:10] Correct. Later in the afternoon, after everybody’s been to see their legislators, we go out and again do some more networking and enjoy a beer or two at bad weather brewing.

Ian: [00:49:24] Excellent.

Dorian: [00:49:25] Again the details are are on the registration page for the event.

Ian: [00:49:29] Yep. And that link to that will be in the show notes. So fantastic. Yeah. Thanks Dorian.

Ian: [00:49:36] Thanks for joining us for this episode of The Streets.mn Podcast. This show is released under a Creative Commons attribution non commercial non derivative license, so feel free to republish the episode as long as you are not altering it and you’re not profiting from it.

Ian: [00:49:51] The music in this episode is by Eric Brandt and the Urban Hillbilly Quartet. This episode was hosted, edited and transcribed by me, Ian R Buck. If you’re interested in helping to create the show, we’re looking for people to take on transcriptions and editing for occasional episodes. Also, if you have feedback or ideas for future episodes, drop us a line at [podcast@streets.mn]. Until next time, Take care.

About Ian R Buck

Saint Paulite, podcaster, and teacher. Ian gets around via bike and public transportation. "You don't need a parachute to skydive; you just need a parachute to skydive twice!"

6 thoughts on “The 2023 BikeMN Legislative Agenda

  1. Ian R Buck Moderator   Post author

    The 2020 Bike Walk Summit was one of the last things that I did before we shut down the state. I remember elbow bumping my legislators because we thought that was how to mitigate COVID at the time. Ah, what a time. But it really was a wonderful event; I loved meeting bike advocates from across the state and brainstorming cool projects!

    Reply
  2. Rob Jackson

    Ian. Excellent interview with Dorian Grilley at BikeMN.org! Your podcast is a great resource for informing the bicycle advocacy community in MN and I hope you have Dorian return in the future for updates on what’s happening in bicycle advocacy across the state.

    Reply
  3. Amy GageAmy Gage

    This episode convinced me to attend the Bike Walk Summit. Dorian, of course, focuses mainly on cyclists, but I want to talk about pedestrian safety, too. Thanks, Ian!

    Reply
    1. Ian R Buck Moderator   Post author

      Heck yeah, looking forward to seeing you there! Do you have any ideas for things we can do at the state legislative level to improve pedestrian safety that weren’t discussed in the episode?

      Reply
      1. Amy GageAmy Gage

        I differ with some of the experts on this, Ian, but in my experience, painted crosswalks incentivize vehicles to stop. I don’t think drivers understand that any place where two streets cross is an intersection — and, therefore, pedestrians have the ROW. When I pushed for this during my years at St. Thomas, city traffic engineers said that too many painted crosswalks nullifies the effect; they, in essence, become “wallpaper” to drivers. More medians on busy streets — like the ones on Marshall that slow traffic but give me an island of rest at 7 a.m. with two rambunctious dogs — and more pedestrian pads like the ones at Selby and Snelling. They slow traffic, in theory, but also make us walkers more visible. Thanks for asking! 🙂

        Reply

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