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Active Transportation Week organizers promote biking to work

At least once a week from April to September, Chris Bode hops on his bike to pedal the nine miles from his Superior home to his job in downtown Duluth.

At least once a week from April to September, Chris Bode hops on his bike to pedal the nine miles from his Superior home to his job in downtown Duluth.

"It's a really great way to start the day and gives me a good burst of energy in the morning," Bode said. "A lot of times the mornings are really beautiful, riding over the bridge, over the bay. It's a lot of fun."

Active Transportation Week organizers hope more people discover the joy of biking to and from work. Friday is Twin Ports Bike to Work Day.

"The big goal of the whole week is to get people thinking more about walking, bicycling, the non-motorized active modes of transportation, to give people an opportunity to think about trying them out," said James Gittemeier, a senior planner with the Duluth-Superior Metropolitan Interstate Council.

Workshops during the week have promoted community discussion on what is needed to make the Twin Ports more biker- and walker-friendly.

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A couple of different events Friday cap off Active Transportation Week.

Three bicycle stations will be open across the Twin Ports on Friday morning offering coffee and snacks, mechanical and safety checks, and bike route maps. In addition, the Duluth YMCA and the University of Wisconsin-Superior will provide free showers for bicyclists.

At noon, Duluth Mayor Don Ness begins his annual Mayor's Bike Ride from City Hall, ending at Valentini's for an Active Transportation luncheon with former U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar and Bicycle

Alliance of Minnesota executive director Dorian Grilley. Oberstar and

Grilley will share innovative approaches to active transportation and the positive impacts they can have on the health and economic development of a community.

On Saturday, volunteers can help the city of Duluth plant trees in the boulevard along a designated bike route, where they will grow to shade cyclists and pedestrians.

There are no firm numbers available on how many people regularly bike to work in the Twin Ports. Last year, MIC began conducting 12-hour counts at various intersections to get an idea of the number of bicyclists on the streets.

"We came up with between 75 and 100 bicyclists coming through a number of intersections through town," Gittemeier said.

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Bode thinks the positive health and environmental impacts of biking make it something more people should consider.

"I know it's not logistically feasible for a lot of people, but I think there are quite a few people who could," he said. "I think a lot of people are intimidated by the idea. But riding nine miles is really not a big deal."

Steve Kuchera is a retired Duluth News Tribune photographer.
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