Letter: Let’s make Albert Lea a ‘Biker’s Paradise’
According to WalkScore.com, a Rockefeller Foundation-funded organization, Albert Lea is considered a “car-dependent” city with a bike score’ of 43 out of 100. That’s compared to our neighbor to the east, Austin, who scores a 96/100 in “bikeability,” coining it a “Biker’s Paradise” on the website.
In the past few weeks, I started riding my bike the almost four-mile commute to work and it’s absolutely invigorating. Being a sparse cyclist in my adult life, I have relished the fact that I am now a full-blown bike person, hugging the sides of the road as traffic passes, holding my arm out for turn signals, and pretending I’m on the Tour De France while I try to break my own speed records.
Something I don’t relish, however, is how many parts of my ride to and from work each day are practically unbikeable. This is due to narrow roads, insufficient crosswalks and a dreadful lack of clearly-marked bike lanes.
Albert Lea truly is an outdoor recreation-friendly town, with a walking path circling all of fountain lake, the Blazing Star Trail and more, but, when it comes to bikeability, we can do better.
According to the fact-finding website “MNCompass.org,” 8.9% of Albert Lea households do not own a vehicle (2015-19). Additionally, over 37.9% (over one-third) of Albert Lea households own only one vehicle, yet the average household size is 2.2 people. This leaves over 40% of our town’s population without sufficient transportation.
It is critical that Albert Lea make changes to its foot and bike pathways to provide solutions for almost half of our community’s transportation-limited families.
I am 30 years old and in some of the best shape of my life, but as I weave in and out of traffic and hop off my bike to avoid construction, I wonder just how many people would be able to pull off a vehicle-less commute as I have.
I am proud to live and work in this city, and I am proud of all the work being done to make our community better each day. As these improvements are considered, I am asking that the change-makers of this city consider strengthening walk and bike pathways for its transportation-limited citizens.
Together we can make Albert Lea a “Biker’s Paradise.”