FFM Bulletin 2/17/09

Need help learning to walk or ride a bike? Taxpayer-funded "ambassadors" are there for you

Do you live in or near Minneapolis? Have you been struggling to learn how to ride a bike? Are your walking skills getting a little rusty? Don't worry. The City of Minneapolis and their taxpayer-funded "Bike/Walk Ambassadors" can help.

Launched six months ago, the city's Bike/Walk Ambassador Program is part of the federal Non-Motorized Transportation Pilot Project, which "aims to get more people bicycling and walking by 2010." According to the City of Minneapolis, ambassadors aim to "get more people thinking about biking and walking as a way to get where they're going."

But that's not all; they'll also teach you to "reduce stress and enjoy life."

All of that for just $1 million, which is the price tag of the three-year project. At the risk of being labeled pro-stress or anti-enjoyment, a million bucks seems like a steep price to pay for a pep talk and a reminder to get off the couch.

And the ambassador program is one small component of the $21.5 million of previously passed transportation funding that was earmarked to encourage walking and biking in the Twin Cities area. Perhaps more people would bike or walk Minneapolis' recreational trails if they were safe from crime and violence.


Bike sharing or bike stealing?

In other Minneapolis bicycling news, the city just concluded a round of public meetings on a proposed "public bicycle sharing" program. The program will be "similar to the Paris Velib," the French capital's bike-sharing program that was launched 18 months ago. According to the City of Minneapolis, the Velib makes it "easy for commuters, students, tourists and urban residents to use a bike for short trips in the heart of the City."

But according a recent BBC report, "over half the original fleet of 15,000 specially made bicycles have disappeared, presumed stolen." And the operator of the system says the bike-sharing program - which was intended to promote sustainability - is, ironically, unsustainable.

Does Minneapolis really want to model their system on this failure? More importantly, does Minneapolis really need to get into the bike-rental business at all?


FFM expands online presence

Check out the new FFM Newsroom. You can see Sean Hannity's recent segment about FFM's report on the 10 most ridiculous economic stimulus requests made by Minnesota cities as well as FFM coverage by KARE11, KSTP, the Star Tribune, and others. Check back regularly for updates.

We'd also love to have you join FFM's new Facebook group. The Facebook page is a great place to find FFM news, photos, videos, event information, and more.

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