The Path to Success: Securing Safe Bike Commuting Routes for Dero Staff

Ben, Colin, & Steph on Bike to Work Day.
When you live in a city like Minneapolis, one with ever-expanding networks of protected bike lanes, bike paths, and active commuting connections, it’s easy to take that infrastructure for granted. Plus, when you work at a Platinum level Bicycle Friendly Business, everyday is bike to work day.

River view along the Mississippi River Regional Trail.
For the dozen or so year-round bike commuters at Dero, the Mississippi River Regional Trail is everyone’s last leg before arriving at work. During the warm months, it’s scenic and serene. But when the first snow fell, we discovered that it wasn’t going to be plowed due to the ongoing utility work adjacent to the trail.

We learned that, according to the trail’s website:

“There is no trail maintenance during the winter, including plowing and clearing. Please follow the posted detour routes. Thank you for your patience during this process.”

 
Map of the closed trail section. Note the detour (yellow) takes riders across the river–opposite the side Dero is located.
This news was a disappointment to everyone, and deeply concerning considering the only alternative route was riding the shoulder of East River Road, which is a 4-lane, 55-mph highway. And when it snows the shoulder all but disappears, leaving us the unpleasant decision to take the lane, despite deadly speed differentials, or hike-a-bike on the unplowed path.

However, Dero employees rose to the challenge (as any Bike Friendly Business would), and organized a multi-pronged email and call-in campaign to the City of Fridley and the Anoka County Parks department. We rallied our non-biking coworkers, building owners, and other commuters within the greater Minneapolis biking community to chime in too.

View of the plowed trail.
Over the next week, we built our case in the contents of dozens of carefully written (and polite) emails and phone calls, while channeling the dogged persistence that’s familiar to anyone who’s done advocacy work. Ten days later, we had a personal visit by an Anoka County Parks Department staff member with good news. With the help of the City of Fridley, they would resume plowing the trail during the construction. They even created a detour to connect the trail to Northern Stacks Drive via a dirt path!

A plowed trail means Bri is happy. Thumbs up!
It may sound easy, but it took the coordinated effort of over a dozen committed commuters to even reach the correct decision-makers. And though we’d love to take all the credit, we are incredibly thankful for the City of Fridley and Anoka County Parks officials who listened AND followed through for us – THANK YOU! The passion with which our employees took on this challenge is a testament to the indelible bicycling culture of Dero.