Local View: Duluth can follow bikeways plan for active transportation

Source: Duluth News Tribune 11-25-18 Local View: Duluth can follow bikeways plan for active trans…

By Ruurd Schoolderman on Nov 25, 2018 at 7:30 p.m.

Duluth has been making great progress as an active outdoor-recreation community. We are well on our way toward achieving the goal of having every citizen within a mile of an access point to Duluth’s trail system. The Duluth Traverse mountain biking trail and Superior Hiking Trail string together Duluth’s many neighborhood parks. Amenities like these make Duluth an attractive city to live in and to visit and are part of the city’s overall economic-development strategy.

This great investment to improve access to our green space by bike and on foot stands in contrast with the limited bike infrastructure that currently exists to safely navigate our neighborhoods and city for day-to-day active transportation. This is a missed opportunity.

The Duluth-Superior Metropolitan Bikeways Plan presents a vision to change this. The plan was prepared by the Duluth-Superior Metropolitan Interstate Council, or MIC, a regional transportation-planning agency. The plan serves as a coordinating framework for the road authorities (city, county, and state) responsible for our road system.

The Duluth Bike Coalition, a chapter of the statewide bike advocacy group BikeMN, advocates for improvements to Duluth’s bike infrastructure. Our mission is to work to make biking for everyday transportation easy, safe, and fun for everyone.

Our current bike-transportation infrastructure for everyday transportation to work, school, and businesses does not serve users of all ages and abilities. As a result, a large portion of Duluth’s citizens which does not have access to a car or prefers not to drive is limited in transportation options. Think about low-income families, teenagers, and the many Duluthians who prefer to ride a bike as part of an active-transportation lifestyle.

Duluth Bikes supports the vision presented in the Duluth-Superior Metropolitan Bikeways Plan. We ask that the roadway authorities, especially the city of Duluth’s, make a concerted commitment toward implementing this vision. We hope the city of Duluth will use this plan to proactively work to develop access to bike infrastructure for all ages and experience levels.

Two open houses organized by the MIC are scheduled so the public may comment on the bike plan. They are a great opportunity for Duluth citizens to show their support for active transportation and to provide input on how they would like to see Duluth’s bike infrastructure improved.

Ruurd Schoolderman is chairman of the Duluth Bike Coalition (duluthbikes.org), a chapter of the statewide bike advocacy group BikeMN (bikemn.org).

Get involved

Two open houses are scheduled for the public to review and to provide feedback on the draft Duluth-Superior Metropolitan Bikeways Plan. The open houses are both Wednesday — one from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the other from 4-7 p.m. — at the Duluth Folk School, 1917 W. Superior St.

To read the bike plan, go to dsmic.org/study/dsbikeways.

The INTERNal Outsider

An Intern’s-Eye View of the MIC

 

Meet Erica Hansen

In my time as a student in the Transportation and Logistics Management program at UW-Superior, I have become increasingly enamored with the dynamics of transportation.Rail mounted gantry crane in the Port Everglades seaport

You might even describe me as a freight transportation enthusiast (rubber tyre gantry cranes get me fired up, okay?). The more I learn about this behind-the-scenes industry, the more apparent its presence becomes.

A few months ago when I began my journey to becoming a MIC intern, I found that there is even a behind-the-scenes transportation planning world to my behind-the-scenes freight transportation world.

I have learned that at the MIC office, “comfort level” speaks not to the ergonomics of my work space (still getting used to the stand-up desk), but to how people feel walking and biking down a road.  They give you a booklet on the first day of the acronyms you’ll hear on a daily basis: “TAC” isn’t something you put into a wall to hold a paper up, it’s a group of intelligent, invested engineers and planners who look at what the Duluth-Superior area needs from a technical perspective. “TIP” isn’t the “pointed or rounded end or extremity of something slender or tapering” (thanks, dictionary.com), but the four-year Transportation Improvement Program, a tool and a process by which federal funds are made available to finance local infrastructure projects.

Here at the MIC, “intern” isn’t the person who makes the coffee and copies. In my first two weeks at the MIC, I spent several hours outside counting parked bikes, taking pictures of infrastructure use, and collecting data on bicyclists and pedestrians. I’ve attended meetings with stakeholders of the Twin Ports, and have come to an understanding of how many different views affect the decisions made here. I’ve been included in many discussions of the efforts towards making Duluth-Superior a community that supports each other, from environmentalists supporting the economy, or motorists supporting bike lanes.

Although I am an outsider to the world of urban planning, in just a short while I have become more invested in the community I’ve been a part of for over 25 years, and more understanding of the efforts to integrate the needs of all transportation users — from the pedestrian on the sidewalk to the overweight/oversized semi-trucks on the roads.

In my remaining months at the MIC, I look forward to enhancing this understanding by assisting the amiable and welcoming staff of the MIC on their various projects, whether it’s field work, office work, or lending my outsider’s view to their planning mindset.

 

Erica H-150pxErica Hansen is finishing up her final semester at the University of Wisconsin – Superior in the Transportation and Logistics Management program. She is intrigued by looking at transportation from a different side than freight movement, and helping to create an efficient and safe transportation network for the Duluth-Superior area. Erica also interns at Lake Superior Warehousing, Co. Inc. and runs student organizations at UWS. When she is not busy with these things, she takes her two-year-old to parks near their home, and rollerblades on the Munger Trail.

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What will our Transportation System Look Like in 2040?

Updating the 25-year Vision for Transportation in the Twin Ports

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You are invited to attend one of the four public meetings on Connections 2040 – the Twin Ports Long Range Transportation Plan.

 

The Duluth-Superior Metropolitan Interstate Council (MIC) is updating its Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) to provide policy guidance, goals and strategies for jurisdictions within the greater metropolitan area of Duluth, Minnesota and Superior, Wisconsin.  It covers a twenty-five year planning horizon and is updated every four years.Connections2040-logo-320px

The over-arching purpose of the LRTP is to provide a planning foundation for jurisdictions to work cooperatively to provide a well-maintained, integrated, accessible and multi-modal transportation system to safely and efficiently move people and freight for the next 25 years, within the constraints of funding the region can reasonably expect to receive.

The heart of the Plan is a listing of proposed federally-funded transportation projects, as well as transportation initiatives underway within the region, to be implemented from 2015-2040. You can view an interactive map of the projects here.

To learn more about demographic trends for this area, projections, transportation priorities and planned projects, you have three opportunities for input:

1. Attend a Public Meeting

Thurs. Sept 11, 2014
5:00-7:00pm
Community Action Duluth, 2424 W 5th Street, Duluth, MN 55806

Thurs. Sept 18, 2014
4:00-6:00pm
Superior Public Library, 1530 Tower Avenue, Superior, WI 54880

Thurs. Sept 25, 2014
4:00-6:00pm
Arrowhead Regional Development Commission (ARDC)
221 W First Street, Duluth, MN 55802

Mon. Sept 29, 2014
4:00-7:00pm (drop-in)
214 West Superior Street
221 W First Street, Duluth, MN 55802

2.  Visit our Connections 2040 web page at www.dsmic.org/lrtp for more information about the plan and to view the interactive map of proposed projects.  You can use the “layers” tab in the upper right corner to toggle on and off views of information about environmentally sensitive areas, low-income and minority populations, etc.

3.  Contact MIC Senior Planner James Gittemeier by phone at (218) 529-7556 or by email at jgittemeier@ardc.org.

 

Public Involvement in Transportation Planning

For many of us, transportation projects seem to come from nowhere.  Others may vaguely remember a project “promised” years ago.  Too often, people OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAdevelop negative impressions of the process by which transportation projects come into being because of the lack of information about how these decisions are made.

That’s where public involvement comes in.

Right now we are updating our Public Involvement Plan – the steps we take and the tools we use to facilitate two-way communication while our plans and studies are underway.  Public involvement gives community members an opportunity to provide input and lets our planning staff provide information, answer questions and understand their perspective.

Our work at the MIC is to study, analyze and make recommendations to make it easier for people and businesses to get where they need to go—whether by car, bike, bus, on foot, by air or on water.  We think about how well these transportation systems will function, and how they can be paid for, not just today but for the next 5, 10, even 25 years.

Public involvement ensures that these decisions are made with input from the people who know this area first-hand.

With this in mind, take a look at the draft of the MIC’s updated Public Involvement Plan.  We understand that there’s more to public participation than holding meetings.  We need to become more visible and find multiple ways to get people and organizations involved.

So let us know: will these steps help to encourage participation in the MIC’s planning activities, as well as to broaden the range of voices and views expressed?