Archived Story

Subcommittee to help make FF bike friendly

Published 12:10pm Wednesday, October 30, 2013

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

Though Fergus Falls was denied its application to become a Bicycle Friendly Community, it certainly isn’t giving up.

“The league felt we weren’t quite ready… but they encouraged us to keep trying,” said Patrick Hollister.

In fact, the League of American Bicyclists provided Fergus Falls more than 40 recommendations to improve cycling in the community.

Some of the recommendations included maintaining on and off road bicycle infrastructure to ensure usability and safety; team with a local bicycle group or shop to offer regular bike maintenance workshops at parks, libraries, community centers or at events; make intersections safer and more comfortable for cyclists; and ensure that there is dedicated funding for the implementation of the bicycle segments of the transportation master plan.

The BFC advocates are moving forward, specifically with the recommendation to form a Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory subcommittee within the Fergus Falls Planning Commission.

Having an official committee that meets frequently is critical to build public support for bicycle improvements, and it creates a systematic method for ongoing citizen input into the development of important policies, plans and projects, according to the BFC feedback report from the League of American Bicyclists to Fergus Falls.

The BFC Application Committee sent in its application last February to try and join 10 other Minnesota cities in becoming a BFC. It found out in April that they didn’t qualify for the designation.

Fergus Falls already has some elements in place that lend themselves to being a BFC. In 2011, a total of 12 new, green bike racks popped up around town thanks to the CVB and Sunrise Rotary. The newly-built Tower Road bridge includes a bike path. Then there’s the annual Bike or Walk to Work or School Week, which encourages the increased use of bicycles and walking as means of transportation. Over the last three summers, more and more people have ventured around town with their bikes, according to Hollister.

“People do bike in Fergus Falls even in the winter,” he said.

The request for a planning commission subcommittee isn’t unprecedented; it’s had subcommittees in the past, according to a memo from Gordon Hydukovich, Fergus Falls city planner. He supports the subcommittee and recommended one of its members should be a non-voting planning commission member. The planning commission must approve any subcommittee activities, he added.

Hollister gave a presentation about the BFC efforts and the request to form a subcommittee to the planning commission Oct. 28. However, since there was not a quorum, no action was taken.

Dave Sanderson, a retired Lake Region Healthcare physician; Jake Krohn, a consultant; and Karoline Gustafson, of Athletic Republic; are community members interested in the creation of the subcommittee. It’s an important factor to not only help the city achieve Bicycle Friendly Business status but also to become more healthy and pedestrian-friendly overall, Gustafson said.

“Those that are interested in serving on the subcommittee are individuals who… know the ins and outs of which streets are safe and which ones are not,” Gustafson said. “These individuals will do a great job of providing the city a different view on our city’s streets.”

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