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Embracing Bicycling for a Safer, More Inclusive Stillwater

As the warm breeze of May sweeps through Stillwater, it brings with it not just the promise of spring, but also a reminder that this month marks a special occasion for cyclists nationwide: National Bike Month. On this note, Rick Heidick, representing Sustainable Stillwater MN, recently addressed the City Council with a compelling presentation, urging the community to embrace bicycling as not just a recreational activity but as a legitimate form of transportation that embodies values of inclusivity, accessibility, and social justice.

May kicked off with National Ride a Bike Day, celebrating the joy and freedom of cycling, while May 8th, marked Bike to School Day, an initiative that encourages children to pedal their way to school, promoting both physical activity and environmental consciousness. Heidick proudly announced the participation of five out of seven elementary schools in this year's event, showcasing the growing enthusiasm for active commuting among the younger generation.

Volunteer Kelsey Depew at Stonebridge Bike to School Day
Kelsey Depew, SSMN Board Member, at Stonebridge's Bike to School Day

The presentation also highlighted upcoming events such as the Stillwater Police Department (SPD) Bike Rodeo and a trail etiquette class, demonstrating Sustainable Stillwater MN's commitment to promoting safe cycling practices and enhancing bike infrastructure in the city. Moreover, the approval of the fourth annual Bridge the Valley Bike Rally underscores Stillwater's dedication to fostering a vibrant cycling community.

Reflecting on Stillwater's journey towards becoming a Bicycle Friendly Community, Heidick acknowledged the progress made in recent years, including the installation of new bike racks and signage, but also emphasized areas for improvement. He called for increased education on bicycling in schools, enhanced training for trail users and motorists, and better street markings to ensure the safety and accessibility of cycling infrastructure throughout the city.

Beyond the recreational benefits, Heidick urged the council to recognize cycling as a means of transportation that promotes inclusivity and social equity. He emphasized the importance of creating streets that are safe and accessible for cyclists of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities, envisioning a community where cycling is not just a pastime but a fundamental aspect of daily life.

Students with bikes
Students with bikes

In closing, Heidick appealed to the council to uphold the values of safety, inclusivity, accessibility, and social justice by prioritizing the development of bike-friendly infrastructure in Stillwater. By embracing bicycling as a mode of transportation, the city can foster a more sustainable and equitable future for all its residents.

As National Bike Month unfolds, let us not only celebrate the joys of cycling but also commit ourselves to building a community where every street is a safe and welcoming space for cyclists. Together, we can pedal forward towards a brighter, more inclusive future for Stillwater.

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