The 2nd Annual Soup and Cycles event will be Thursday, January 15 at 6 pm. The inaugural Soup and Cycles event was organized by Councilmember Suzie Nakasian in November 2013 as “an information gathering and brainstorm for representatives of Northfield area bike clubs and bike-interested groups, community leaders and educators.” The event was intentionally broad with discussions ranging from bike education to infrastructure to off-road cycling to tourism.
Soup and Cycles 2 is an opportunity to reflect on what’s been accomplished in the last year on bicycling related matters as well as continuing to plan for the future. I missed last year’s event because I was bicycling in Cambridge, but I’ve been working with the advocacy group which was created: BikeNorthfield
BikeNorthfield has been busy resuscitating bicycle advocacy in Northfield and getting stuff done. The Non-Motorized Transportation Task Force (a subgroup of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board which existed for two years and disbanded in 2008) was the last organized bike advocacy group; it had significant influence with Woodley Street east of town, the Parks, Open Space and Trail Plan, creating Northfield’s Safe Routes to School Plan, and organizing Walk/Bike to School events.
Bike Northfield in 2014
A quick list of what BikeNorthfield has done, helped to do, and thought about last year:
- Bike Friendly Community workshop
- Traffic Safety 101 course (plus Laura and Derek Meyers went on to become LCIs and win the HCI Making a Difference Award)
- Second street bike sensor (which was wished for in 2006)
- Planning for Woodley Street and TH246 and Jefferson Parkway improvements
- Cruiser Rides
- Bike Friendly Community application and Honorable Mention status
- Meeting the public at Books and Stars and other community events
- Helping other groups such as Allina, Greenvale Park Community School and more with bicycle-related events.
- Developing benchmarks by helping MnDOT’s bike count
Looking ahead in 2015
Here is a really quick glance at what BikeNorthfield could be doing this year, but you should come to Soup and Cycles and help fill out this list (and volunteer to do some of the work).
- Infrastructure projects are huge opportunities for improving cycling, walking, environmental sustainability, quality of life, economic opportunity and more. Woodley Street, Second Street, and TH 246/Jefferson Parkway are big projects starting in 2015.
- Working toward a bike advisory committee for the City. A continuing challenge for improving bicycling is the combination of education for decision-makers and building a critical mass of support. Committed bike advocates often have looked at solutions in other places, talked to other cyclists and thought longer and harder about good design solutions; we need to share both the design thinking (which often conflicts, at least superficially, with the “way we always do things”) and bring our friends to convince elected officials and city staff of the demand and the design. The time line, scope and structure for such a committee needs your help.
- Bike Friendly Community revisited. Honorable Mention is an irritating recogintion – close, but not quite. BikeNorthfield hopes to work for improvements in Northfield, apply again and get the Bronze. Because the BFC application and review process is concrete and specific, it helps Northfield look at which of the 5E’s need more attention and how to focus efforts.
My list reflects my interest in improving land use and transportation; there’s also more to be done educating, encouraging, evaluating and enforcing. Please come help!