Forum editorial: Fargo’s bike effort pedals on
North Dakota jumped 35 places this year as a bicycle-friendly state. That’s a significant change because the state was dead last the year before. And make no mistake about it: Fargo’s attention to bicycle amenities helped the state improve its status.
Inspired by the work of City Commissioner Mike Williams, Fargo has embarked on an ambitious program to not only make streets more accessible to cyclists but also to promote bike rentals and a “bike share” program. The city has a vibrant bike private sector. Taken together, the bicycling scene in the city has improved from being mostly ignored to a priority. The effort comports very well with emphasis on a healthy city and a green city.
Not all the city’s policymakers have been on board with bicycle-friendly projects, in particular the establishment of bike lanes on major thoroughfares. But that debate is history, and bike lanes are regular features of those corridor streets. By and large, they have been successful. The City Commission in cooperation with the park district (bicycle paths) should continue to expand and enhance bike lanes on streets and
off-road bicycle paths.
One of the arguments against spending on bicycle amenities is that Fargo’s short summer and long winter limit use. Not necessarily so. An objective look at weather-related issues suggests lanes and paths are used (even when the weather turns cold) for nearly six months a year. That compares well with any northern city. Only when snow and ice make biking surfaces dangerous does use drop off. A little cold weather does not inhibit Fargo bicyclists.
Fargo might never be the bicycling capital of the nation, but it is well on its way to joining a growing number of cities where serious and casual cyclists have opportunities to ride smartly and safely. Biking, like so many of the urban life enhancements the city has embraced in the past 20 years, makes Fargo a more attractive place.
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Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.