By Dorian Grilley:Bike Alliance of Minnesota
The city of Bemidji has recently granted the bronze Bicycle Friendly Community designation by the League of American Bicyclists joining the growing number of cities around Minnesota to develop bike friendly communities!
The award was the culmination of persistent efforts by community leaders and advocates including Mayor Dave Larson, Parks & Recreation Director Marcia Larson as well as health, tourism, bicycling, law enforcement, transportation and environmental representatives from the community. BikeMN helped prepare the Bemidji BFC application.
To honor the designation, a celebratory bike ride began at the Sanford Center, the city’s new event center on the south side of Lake Bemidji. The group then took the city’s off-road trail system, including a ride over the newly constructed Paul Bunyan Trail Bridge, toward City Hall for the presentation of the award. The ceremony was attended by more than 25 people.
Dorian Grilley, Executive Director of the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota, presented the BFC award to Mayor Larson on behalf of the LAB. Marcia Larson was Master of Ceremonies for the event and Diane Pittman, MD, bicycle enthusiast, League Cycling Instructor and advocate with Shifting Gears, shared some wonderful bicycling history and accomplishments for Bemidji.
Mayor Larson said, “Bemidji is happy to be joining Minneapolis and Saint Paul as the third BFC along the Minnesota segment of the Mississippi River Trail. We welcome the international recognition that comes with this award and look forward to the visitors it will attract and the benefits it will bring to our community and residents”.
Natalie Gille, BikeMN’s Program Manager for Northern Minnesota added, “The Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota was happy to advise and work with Bemidji on the programs, especially bike safety and education, required to achieve this award. We also worked with the city and MnDOT on the authorization of the Mississippi River Trail by the Minnesota legislature earlier this year.”
Regarding the Mississippi River Trail, Grilley said, “The idea of an 800-mile bike route linking communities that are bicycle friendly for residents and visitors has not been done at this level in our country. As more communities join Bemidji and other Minnesota BFCs in achieving the bicycle friendly award, the international recognition already enjoyed by the Mississippi will increase significantly”.
Watch for the “Bicycle Friendly Community” signs to go up soon and for continuing bicycle friendly efforts and events. Bemidji is not stopping at the Bronze award.