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Charly Haley, Published September 15 2012

Bicycle summit highlights safety, fun

FARGO – The first Valley Bicycle Summit was held at Fargo South High School on Saturday.

Sponsored by the Fargo-Moorhead Metropolitan Council of Governments (Metro COG), the summit included workshops, a group ride, raffle prizes and a keynote address by Dorian Grilley, executive director of the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota.

“Our vision is that biking should be safe, easy, fun and cool,” Grilley said.

One reason for hosting the bike summit was that bicycling is becoming more popular in the area, and both Fargo and Moorhead have added new bike lanes recently, said Katie White, transportation planner with F-M Metro COG.

“It’s important because the cities and counties are taking steps to get more bicyclists on the road,” White said. “We’re helping drivers and bicyclists interact properly on the road.”

Not only is Fargo-Moorhead catering more to bicyclists, but many other cities in the U.S. are as well, Grilley said. His presentation discussed the increasing popularity of bicycling, from California to Minnesota.

White said one of the summit’s goals was to not only teach bicyclists how to use the bike paths and other resources correctly, but also to teach drivers how to drive with bicyclists on the road.

“We want to make bicyclists as predictable as cars,” White said. For example, cars can pass bicyclists, she said, but many people drive slowly behind bicyclists.

Workshops were organized into three tracks: “families and children,” “recreational riders” and “becoming a commuter.”

Throughout the day, there was a MATBUS available at the school for people to practice loading bikes onto the front rack. There was also a semi-truck so people could learn about blind spots when biking around commercial vehicles.

“I think cycling has a sense of freedom to it, even though you do have to abide by the rules of driving,” said attendee Nicole Slaboch, 27, of Fargo. She said bicycling also gives her a sense of camaraderie with other bicyclists on the road, because they’re not enclosed in cars.

Chad Dodds, 28, of Fargo, doesn’t have a car. He echoed a point made in Gilley’s presentation, that bicycling helps save money.

“I’m not very good with directions, so when I get lost, I know I’m not wasting gas,” he said. Getting lost is like an opportunity to explore, he said.

Dodds even bikes in the winter.

“You get a better feel for the weather,” he said.

Although Grilley didn’t bike to Fargo from the Twin Cities to speak at the summit, he did bike to Fargo South from his hotel downtown.

“I really did feel welcomed riding here this morning,” he said.

He said that Fargo is already doing many things to become more bike-friendly, such as the Streets Alive! events every August, the new bike paths and the bike summit.


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Readers can reach Forum reporter Charly Haley at (701) 235-7311.