Conveniently located on Hwy 210 in Carlton, MN, just 3 miles off I-35,
right on the Willard Munger Trail near Jay Cooke State Park.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Ribbon Cutting

The moment we’d all been waiting for arrived…. The official Ribbon Cutting Ceremony yesterday morning at Carlton Bike Rental. Congressman Jim Oberstar arrived early to tour the new facilities, along with the endless meeting and greeting that goes with such events. All who helped the enterprise were given the privilege of signing the ribbon, which was then ceremoniously cut, followed by a short speech on the importance and value of biking.

Scissors in hand, Congressman Jim began the speech by noting that more bikes than cars were sold last year in America and that the growth of biking has been significant over the course of our lifetimes. What follows are excerpts from this speech.

“We required in that legislation (Highway Trust Fund) a National Bicycle Coordinator of the Federal Highway Administration paid by the Highway Trust Fund, and State Bicycle Coordinators in every state, also paid out of the Highway Trust Fund; required the development of a state wide bike plan in every state…. From '71 to '91 there was only 40 million dollars spent by all 50 states collectively on bicycle trails. Since then, we've spent 3 ½ billion dollars invested in bike trails, Rails to Trails which are eligible under the Highway Trust Fund and the bicycle provisions. And then in 2005, I launched the Safe Routes to School Initiative for elementary schools to get children biking and walking to school, as an antidote to the obesity epidemic and the type 2 diabetes epidemic hitting this country. And now, the Safe Routes to School is in 7,000 schools nationwide, and every state has a Safe Routes to School Coordinator, and there's a Safe Routes clearing house to advise school districts on how to set their programs up and how to go about doing it. Every year, there's a national conference on Safe Routes to School, and the goal is to make bicycling a mode of transportation.

“Most trips by car are 4 miles or less. That is, 60% of all trips by automobiles are 4 miles or less. You could do that easily on a bike. You can have a basket in the front like they do in the Netherlands, in Denmark, in Finland, in Germany, in Spain, and many places in England, and put your groceries in there and take them home. Or you could have a shoulder bag and carry home most things that you need at a grocery store or shopping center. In Copenhagen, 38% of all trips for all purposes are by bicycle. The world's largest pharmaceutical, Novo Nordisk is headquartered in Copenhagen. The CEO of Novo Nordisk rides to work in a bike. His briefcase is in a limousine but the goes in a bike.”

After describing a bicycle ride through Washington D.C. with the Crown Prince of Denmark, the congressman spoke in detail about the origins of the Paul Bunyan Bike Train which has grown from 40,000 users a dozen years ago to 650,000 users today with the corresponding growth of bed and breakfasts, restaurants and other services due to this influx of bikers.

“People drive the 130 miles up from the Twin Cities, they park at the trail head and they have a wonderful, relaxing, reinvigorating weekend. That's what we're seeing. That's what you're part of right here Jolene. Thank you for the initiative, for your vision, seeing this great future for bicycling and enhancing Carlton with this wonderful facility. It’s a complete trail, you have the bikes you have the service, you have food, you have cold drinks, you have everything. All you need is hot days.”

Thank you, Jim.

Photos from yesterday's event courtesy Randy Samarzia. Click images to enlarge.

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