Annual Bicycle “Conference on Wheels”
Each fall, the Sierra Club organizes a bike ride like no other!
This fun, leisurely tour highlights growth and development in the Twin Cities. The event combines a scenic bike ride with educational rest stops, where we hear from expert guest speakers about the communities we are visiting from the seats of our bicycles.
Tour de White Bear Lake Highlights “Complete Streets”
Nearly 200 bicyclists of all ages rode in the Tour de White Bear Lake, the Sierra Club’s 15th annual “conference on wheels.” This year’s Tour emphasized the need for “complete streets” in our communities that make roadways safer and more enjoyable for people to bike, walk and take transit.
The Tour was a 22-mile ride around scenic White Bear Lake, starting and ending at Tamarack Nature Center and including a portion of the Gateway Trail. The event included rest stops featuring guest speakers highlighting land use and transportation issues in the area.
“More and more people want to be able to walk and bike in their community because it is a fun, affordable, clean, and healthy way to get around,” said Ethan Fawley, co-chair of the Sierra Club’s Land Use & Transportation Committee. “With complete streets we design and build roads for everyone, regardless of how they get around.”
Steve Clark, of Transit for Livable Communities, spoke at Ramsey County/White Bear Beach about how, due to citizen involvement, the resurfacing of Hwy 96 currently underway will better serve bikes and pedestrians in White Bear Lake.
Riders enjoyed a relaxed lunch at St. Andrews in Mahtomedi before continuing along the south shore of the lake to Lions Park. White Bear Lake Mayor Jo Emerson greeted riders and reminded everyone to keep leaves out of the street to improve water quality. Council Member Dan Jones spoke of the Lake Links Trail Plan. And Amanda Bergstrom, of Houston Engineering, who has worked with the Rice Creek Watershed District, detailed the use of rain gardens, porous pavement and other measures to filter water and protect lake water quality.
Michelle Dibblee, of Transit for Livable Communities, pointed out future transit opportunities, such as the Rush Line that will stop in White Bear Lake, and emphasized the importance of public involvement.
“Community members have an incredibly important role to play in transportation decisions. Policymakers need to hear that investments in safe biking and walking and practical transit help people save money, get to work, protect the environment, and more,” said Dibblee. “Momentum is building, but if we want these choices in five years instead of fifty, we have to get involved today.” Highway 61 through downtown White Bear Lake is slated for work in 2014.
The “conference on wheels” strives to be a “zero waste event.” Thanks to the oustanding efforts of volunteers and riders, almost everything used for food and drinks throughout the Tour was composted, a few items went to recycling, and just one gallon-size bag of non-compostable, non-recyclable waste was left. Well done!
Thanks to all of our speakers, volunteers and riders for making this a terrific event. Special Thanks to Gateway Cycle for providing mechanical support during the Tour.
2010 - “Complete Streets” in the White Bear Lake area
2009 - Tour de St. Croix - Exploring the beauty of the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway
2007 - Rosemount, Apple Valley, Lakeville, and farmland and natural areas of Dakota County
- St. Paul, North St. Paul, Maplewood, Oakdale and Lake Elmo
- Fridley, Coon Rapids and Anoka
Plan your own Bicycle “Conference on Wheels.”