I had the opportunity to talk with Tom Zirbel about his recent Nationals Time Trials win in Chattanooga, TN, as well as his career in cycling, as he prepared for the St. Paul Criterium stage in his defense of his 2012 Nature Valley Grand Prix title.
The 2013 Nature Valley Grand Prix will span 5 days and kicks off Wednesday, June 12 in St. Paul. This year’s event will include a total of six stages.
Stage 1 – Wednesday, June 12 at 8:30AM St. Paul Riverfront Time Trial
Stage2 – Wednesday, June 12 at 4:00PM St. Paul Downtown Criterium
Stage 3 – Thursday, June 13 at 3:45PM Cannon Falls Road Race
Stage 4 – Friday, June 14 at 4:30PM Uptown Minneapolis Criterium
Stage 5 – Saturday, June 15 at 9:00AM Menomonie Road Race
Stage 6 – Sunday, June 16 at 10:30AM Stillwater Criterium
While there is talk that many other cycling events are causing conflicting schedules, there will still be plenty of excitement at this year’s Nature Valley Grand Prix. Tom Zirbel is back to defend his 2012 title after just winning his first National Time Trial in Chatanooga, TN a couple weeks ago. Don’t forget that there is lots of fun for the whole family at the Expo and other events, like the Shimano Kids Fun Races and the Bicycle Stunt Show that are also a big part of the Nature Valley Bicycle Festival.
The Midtown Greenway ramp at Dean Pkwy will be closed from Monday, June 10 through Friday, June 14. The recommended detour route is via Dean Pkwy, Cedar Lake Ave, Kenilworth Trail and the Midtown Greenway. The closure is needed to perform work related to the Calhoun-Isles Area Sewer Improvements.
For a map of major closures and detours that may affect Minneapolis bicyclists and pedestrians, visit the Detour page. For a listing of additional roadway or sidewalk obstructions, visit the City of Minneapolis Permit Activity Map.
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One of the awesome benefits of living in a bike-friendly state is that there are many perks for riders to take advantage of. Take Pedal Minnesota’s free bike tune-up stations. On Saturday, June 9, you can bring your bike to one of two different locations to have your tires aired up, your chain lubed, and get those minor adjustments tweaked by a professional bike mechanic – for free! This is perfect for growing kids who might need their seat height adjusted. Or, maybe your brake cables are a bit stretched and you just need help getting them tightened up.
You will find the free bike stations set up on Hennepin and Washington downtown, and Knox and Lagoon in Uptown. The free service stations are open from 9am until 2pm, on Saturday, June 9.
Summer doesn’t officially start until June 20th this year here in the northern hemisphere, but if you live in the Twin Cities you might argue that is actually starts June 2nd, which just happens to coincide with the beginning of Bike Walk Week Twin Cities 2012. There are a mess of events planned all week, but for now I will just name some highlights and the happenings for the weekend.
Sunday, of course, is Grand Old Day on Grand Ave. in Saint Paul.
I did discover a cool, interesting tidbit going on during Bike Walk Week. There will be a bike counter set up at different locations each day to count passing cyclists. The Center for Energy and Environment website states, “Bicycling Counts is a creative and engaging strategy to educate the Minneapolis community about the impact of individual action in our city and our environment.” The first bike counter will be placed at the West River Parkway bike path across from the Mill City Museum, located at 704 South 2nd Street in Minneapolis. You can find out more about the Bike Counts at The Center for Energy and Environment. To find the counter and track the results, clues will be posted on Twitter at @mncee_myhome using the #bicyclingcounts hashtag, as well as the Minnesota Energy Challenge Facebook page.
There are many events scheduled throughout the work week and another full slate of bike to-do’s next weekend, highlighted by Northern Spark, Greenway Glow, and Urban Assault Ride. BikeMinneapolis with be attending many events and will attempt to encapsulate all the fun shenanigans.
In the meantime, be sure to check out the Bike Walk Week Twin Cities 2012 site for all the scheduled events.
The Sabo Bridge has re-opened to pedestrians and cyclists as of today, June 1st. When I attended the BAC meeting on Wednesday, some members hinted that it would re-open Monday, June 4th, so this is a nice little surprise, even to me.
The temporary supports will remain in place until permanent repairs can be made.
You can follow progress and get updates at http://www.minneapolismn.gov/
Last week I had an opportunity to meet with Steve Sanders, Alternative Transportation Manager at the University of Minnesota Parking and Transportation Services about the implementation of a new bike commuter program in Minneapolis and St. Paul, ZAP Twin Cities. It’s based on the very successful University of Minnesota ZAP Bike Commuting Program, but, many Minneapolis/St. Paul residents probably aren’t familiar with the University’s commuter program because Gopher ZAP is available exclusively for U of M students, faculty, and staff. But now, in partnership with Commuter Connection and St. Paul Smart Trips, the University of Minnesota is helping to make possible a commuter-based rewards program for all Twin Cities metro area residents who already commute, or, for residents who are looking for just a little more incentive to start making daily commutes via bicycle.
The Gopher ZAP program uses software and hardware developed by Dero ZAP. If they sound familiar to you, it’s probably because they are the Minneapolis-based Dero Bike Rack Company that started making commercial bike racks, back in 1995. The Dero ZAP tag is installed in your spokes, and the ZAP station records your commute when you pass by.
“It’s all automated. The user doesn’t have to do anything special, other than have the tag installed on their bike when they register, and ride past the readers located throughout the U of M campus, and soon, in both downtown areas of Minneapolis and St. Paul,” explained Steve Sanders. I asked him if there was a registration fee or if ZAP was subscription-based. Sanders replied that Gopher ZAP and ZAP Twin Cities is completely free to users. “Using Dero’s ZAP technology, the program promotes, encourages and rewards bike commuting to change how people in the Twin Cities choose to get around.”
I asked Steve about the popularity of the Gopher ZAP program, and he told me that the ZAP technology was tested for about a year prior to the January, 2012 launch of the commuter rewards program on campus. “In just under six months we already have nearly 800 users signed up,” Sanders reported. “We are always obtaining new incentives and rewards for Gopher ZAP users, but the more popular ones remain health insurance premium discounts from U Wellness programs for points credited by using the bike commuter program, and other U Wellness incentives. Students are also rewarded with many bike accessories, like lights and fenders.” Sanders mentioned that they are working hard to have a similar health-based program rewards system available for the newly expanded ZAP Twin Cities, but that it will take more time, since they are developing new relationships with other health-care organizations outside of the University. Currently, they have negotiated rewards for discounts at local merchants and restaurants, but more information will be available soon.
There are presently 18 ZAP reader stations on the U of M campus. There will be approximately 10 ZAP readers strategically placed, in each downtown St. Paul, and downtown Minneapolis. Once the new reader stations are in place, their locations will be made available so bike commuters can plan their routes to record their commute, using any of the combined 38 reader stations, including those already in place on the University campus. The two downtown’s reader stations, linked by the present Gopher ZAP stations, will create an expansive network that many cyclists can use very easily.
Sanders added, “The rapid growth and popularity of Gopher ZAP has Commuter Connection, St. Paul Smart Trips, and University of Minnesota Parking and Transportation Services wheeling to get ZAP Twin Cities set up. It is very exciting, but also challenging, since we are actually developing all this from the ground up, without help of any other similar infrastructure to serve as a guide, other than what we have already accomplished here at the U. We are not aware of any other commuter bicycle rewards program, in any community, using this technology, at this level. So, there are obviously going to be hurdles and speed-bumps when working with the city, utilities, and other agencies, to get the job done right, for success and continued growth. But, based on the successful development of Gopher ZAP and the awesome cycling community growing up around the Twin Cities, we are all very optimistic and feel fortunate to be working on such a unique and important endeavor.”
Sanders informed me during our interview that Commuter Connection had just received a $10,000 grant from Bikes Belong. “The interest and cooperation from cycling advocate agencies has been tremendous. The financial backing and other assistance granted to help develop and put the ZAP programs in place has been instrumental.”
The ZAP Twin Cities bicycle commuter rewards program is slated to launch in mid-to-late June, pending permits, location selection, and other criteria still in the development process. BikeMinneapolis will follow the progress and updates with more info when it’s available.
MN 2020 Video Production Specialist Tom Niemisto produced a short film, back in March, about the Gopher ZAP bike commute program that you can see here.
According to the Ramsey County Regional Rail News (RCRRN), One on One Bicycle Studio will play a key role in the revitalization of St. Paul’s Union Depot. One on One, of course, is a staple in the bicycle community, the first of it’s kind where you can get a cup of joe and a sandwich while shopping for a new bike or, while getting your wheels serviced. I am willing to bet that Gene was a pivotal influence, but is definitely a staunch supporter to this day, of the Stupor Bowl. And, don’t forget the Junkyard. One on One is also known as the bike messenger capital in downtown Minneapolis.
Some of the plans for the new bike center include bike storage, lockers and showers, bike repair and retail services. In addition, they plan to operate a café and art gallery, serving up grab-and-go foods for commuters, gourmet soups, sandwiches and organic, fair-trade coffee. But of course, it’s One on One, right?
I wonder if this means the Stupor Bowl might be getting a new playing field?
See the full press release here at RCRRN site.
In case you haven’t heard by now, Nice Ride MN, the very popular and super successful bicycle ride-share program in Minneapolis, is expanding it’s reach into Saint Paul. Tentatively set to launch June 4th, during Bike Walk Week, the bike-share program will expand it’s current base of 116 bike-share stations by adding 30 more, mostly in the downtown Saint Paul area. The proposed locations for the stations are available on this map.
You can see the full press release here.
The MayDay Parade & Festival has been postponed until Sunday, May 13. Due to lot of standing water and just plain ‘ol cold and wet weather they have decided to postpone until the rain date, May 13. Parade will start at 1pm and everything else remains the same.