The City of Winona received an honorable mention at Monday’s Planning Commission meeting for the efforts made during the last year to improve bikeability. Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota Executive Director Dorian Grilley said with some added changes, Winona could be a “potential jewel on the neck of the Mississippi River.”
In late 2011, Assistant City Planner Carlos Espinosa completed an application to the Minnesota Department of Transportation seeking planning assistance for the Mississippi River Trail project. The bike trail travels through the center of Winona along Huff Street and runs along the river down to New Orleans. The project is an effort to establish the trail in Minnesota through route designation, promotion and signage.
After reviewing the application, Grilley said Winona should consider what he called the Five E’s – engineering, education, encouragement, evaluation and enforcement – in order to improve its bikeability rating.
“Forming a formal group whose sole purpose is to promote the interest of bicycling in Winona will drastically increase the number of bicyclists,” Grilley said. “It will draw people to these paths that you already have [in place].”
Grilley said the city should consider allocating funds for the development of a bicycle parking program and hold community workshops for city and county employees to help spread the word.
To encourage more commuters to ride their bikes, Grilley suggested passing a Complete Streets Policy that would allow bikers on all city roads. In Winona, Grilley said only 2.4 percent of commuters use their bicycles.
Enlisting the help of area colleges and high schools to form a bicycle club would encourage more young people to become lifelong bikers, Grilley said.
“Education is the most important part of this project,” he said. “People feel very welcome here in Winona and if more people are using their bicycles, I think more people would come from around the world to ride along the river.”
Winona State University currently offers a bike rental program that allows students and college employees to rent bikes during the school year for up to five hours at no charge. Adventure Cycle and Ski, and Kolter Bicycle and Fitness both offer bike sales and rentals. The Winona Parks and Recreation Department also offers free bicycle rentals at Lake Park Lodge throughout the summer.
For more information about biking in Winona, visit the City of Winona website.