Is Morris Safe For Riding Bike?

Recently I attended a speech class presentation at the University of Minnesota Morris.  The topic of the presentation was bicycle safety in Morris.  I think the students did a great job, and as a City Manager, I went away from the speech with a few good ideas about things we could do differently.

I won’t get into the details of their presentation, but I will share some of my thoughts on the topic.  The most important thing is education.  It might be a simple statement to make, but it does require some effort on everyone’s part.  We need to do a better job in city government of putting out the right information.  The public then needs to do a better job of using that information.

Some of the questions the students raised included things like riding on sidewalks, running stop signs and needing a light at night.  I didn’t have the answers then, and I don’t right now, but I will get them and find a way to share them with you.  The point is that everyone riding a bicycle should know the rules.  The students didn’t.

Recently, the City of Morris had its annual bike rodeo for kids.  This is put on to specifically explain biking rules to young people.  I must admit that it has been a while since I was a kid and I didn’t attend this event, but if we can educate kids, we can educate adults too.  Everyone has to take the time to learn.

Education also pertains to vehicle drivers.  You have to know the rules of the road because of the operation of your vehicle, but you also have to be aware of others on the road to include pedestrians and bicycle riders.  Everyone is in a hurry, but safety requires that everyone should pay attention.  And be patient!  Sometimes we just need to wait.

Do I think it is safe to ride a bicycle in Morris?  Absolutely.  When I was little, just about every kid got around on bicycles in town.  Today is no different.  You can ride your bike anywhere if you take the time to learn how to do it safely.

I ride motorcycle and anyone who does knows that you have to assume that others don’t see you.  Because of the things I do while riding, I feel safe.  The same holds true for riding bikes.  Don’t assume the other person knows the rules.  And don’t expect the police officers to be around to watch out for you either.  They can’t be everywhere.

One suggestion the college students talked about was bike routes.  Their conclusion, and I agree, was that routes probably weren’t practical.  There are too many things to consider when trying to designate them and set them up so they can be used.  My argument is that riders, for the most part, probably won’t use them anyway.  People go where they want to go.  You just need to be careful wherever you go.  A route won’t protect you.

If you want to ride a bike in Morris, do it.  Just be smart about.


4 Responses

  1. Jennifer Goodnough

    Thanks for both this post and in general for doing this blog.

    When I moved to MN I found that MNDot had a nice summary page of info:

    In particular “MN State Statute 169.222 Operation of a bicycle” is really helpful for bikers to understand their rights and responsibilities. The Morris City Code seems to mimic that Statute pretty closely while adding a clear limit on sidewalk bike use: “Provided, that it is unlawful for any person to ride a bicycle on any public sidewalk within the downtown area of the City, defined as an area bounded on the south by 5th Street, on the west by Pacific Avenue, on the north by 8th Street, and on the east by Oregon Avenue, and including the area of said designated boundary streets and the sidewalks parallel thereto on both sides of the street, or to park a bicycle upon a sidewalk except where parking stalls have been provided.”

    While I agree that riding a bike in Morris is generally pretty safe, I’ve had enough close calls that I don’t ride without a helmet. I’d also love to see more bike parking in the downtown area.

    1. morris

      Great information. One of the best things we can do in City government is to look for help from our Citizens. Your response is exactly what we need. The students talked about more bike racks in different areas, but they also added that this will allow them to secure their bikes too. I never thought of bikes racks in terms a security. We will look at the possibility of providing more bike racks.

  2. Andy Lopez

    I teach the AARP’s Driver Safety classes in Morris and when we talk about bikes, the biggest complaints are that bike riders ignore the stop signs in town, ride the wrong way on our one-way street in Morris, ride on the wrong side of the street, etc. I think we need to institute a campaign to rectify this behavior.

    Secondly, I do think that there is a need for a place where we can secure our bikes downtown Morris. Several years ago I had a bike stolen from the back of one of the buildings on main street, I reported it to the Morris Police and the bike was never found.

    I will be willing to help in whatever way I can. I think biking is the best way to get around Morris. University to downtown Morris in 3 minutes, pollution free!

    1. morris

      Thanks for sharing. Those are very good points. We will look at the bike rack issue for our budget discussions. Any suggestions on good places to put them will be greatly appreciated. I would like to see some kind of informational campaign done to inform everyone about the proper and safe way to share the road. There are certainly enough interested people.

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