Smarter, Greener, Leaner helps kids use area transit

This project came to attention because of a Herald letter this morning:

During the past year, a grassroots effort organized by Grand Forks Public Schools, in conjunction with the Grand Forks Park District and Cities Area Transit, identified an unmet need in our community of students, ages 12-18, being unable to afford access to public transportation in order to attend school, work, church and leisure activities.

What the project does (although this isn’t described in the letter) is provide CAT passes for students.  A more detailed explanation is given by the Grand Forks Parks Foundation:

The Smarter, Greener, and Leaner Project (SGLP), whose mission statement is to make youth ages 12-18 Smarter, Greener, and Leaner through the use of public transportation, was born. Kids will become Smarter, because missing school will no longer be an issue due to lack of transportation. Leaner, because students will be able to go to fitness centers (with scholarship help) and participate in other outdoor activities using Cities Area Transit (CAT) transportation. Greener, because they’ll learn touse the bus system rather than drive their own vehicles, reducing emissions and becoming bus patrons past high school.

For more information, contact Garry Harris, Jr at the Grand Forks Parks Foundation.


Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan Open House – Sep. 26 at Dakota Harvest

Attention Everyone,

There is going to be an Open House for the Bike and Pedestrian Plan. I attached a flyer of the event and of the Existing and Planned Bikeway Map. I am looking to all of you to help spread the word and attend the event. Support and feedback from both sides of the river is going to be very important of the success and approval of the plan.

Ideas and thoughts of how we can make this more of a success please let me know.

Thank you,
Stephanie Erickson
Metropolitan Planning Organization
Grand Forks / East Grand Forks

Don’t Fence Me In

Proposed pedestrian fence.  Image from Google Earth.

In this morning’s Herald, an idea reminiscent of New York City in the late 1990s:

The proposed 6-foot-tall aluminum fence would start on the east side of Columbia Road near the street’s intersection with Second Avenue North. From there it would run south and meet with the Columbia overpass wall — a distance of approximately 300 feet.
“The idea is to force (pedestrians) to go down to the crosswalk,” Rich Romness, an engineer with the city, told the City Council’s safety committee Tuesday evening.

Luckily, at least one council member wants to see some hard data.  I think you could guess which one.

Installing a fence follows from the ideas that

  1. Automobiles are paramount, and
  2. Pedestrians need to be protected from themselves.

You might remember a similar idea/plan for University Avenue on UND campus to install barricades to prevent “jaywalking,” proposed for the same reason.  There’s no reason to do this on streets that have a 25 MPH speed limit–something both Columbia Road in this location and University Avenue (20 MPH on that stretch) have in common.

I agree: get some real data.

I Think You Mean “Crash”

One person was injured in a vehicle-bicycle accident in Grand Forks late Monday afternoon. 
The accident occurred about 5:24 p.m. at the intersection of 24th Avenue South and South Washington Street, according to Grand Forks Police Department. 
An unidentified female suffered minor injuries when the bicycle she was riding westbound on 24th Avenue South was struck by a vehicle that was turning from 24th Avenue unto Washington Street, according to the police report. Police said the driver reported not being able to see the bicycle because of the glare of the sun. 
Names of the operators were not immediately available. The accident remains under investigation and no citations have been issued.

It’s currently becoming “proper” to refer to these events as “crashes” rather than “accidents,” because the word “accident” absolves everyone of blame, often before an investigation is completed.



grab some comments from AV
Tyrone FB discussion 11/27

Announcing Homestays

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All these guys slept on the floor so they could be here.

The Cost of Racing

After almost three years and thousands of event details entered into the Northern Plains Athletics database, I feel like I have an idea of what the regional racing scene looks like.  During this time I’ve also been racing: mostly locally, but sometimes I travel for the sole purpose of racing myself or supporting my wife.  I’ve noticed a few loose trends.

  1. Racing is expensive.
  2. More races are free.

Obviously these trends contradict each other.  Racing is expensive across the board, but it is less so where people have been making a point to hold free races.  I’m not going to comment too much on the idea of free races, except that I think more of them can be held and they will be awesome, as long as sponsors or private donations compensate the race director.  Obviously Chris Skogen makes enough money somewhere to have been able to support the Almanzo the past few years, but not everyone who could be a great race director has those resources.

But why is racing only “less so” expensive when the race is free?  Travel and lodging costs.  Traveling to races adds up, and if there isn’t a good local scene where you are, you probably don’t even have a good crew to carpool with you every weekend.  I give the Minnesota Cycling Federation a fair amount of crap for only organizing races in southern Minnesota, but that’s honestly the most cost-effective for the majority of their members.  So let’s amend our previous list:

  1. Racing is expensive [even if]
  2. More races are free.
If you don’t pay, you can’t complain.

Announcing Homestays

There are ways to reduce costs, however.  We could start lobbying our local race directors to reduce prices.  We could only go to races close to home.  We could each host one free race a year to “grow the sport of [your sport here].”  We could take the time to build our local club up to the point where travel costs are negligible because of carpooling and shared lodging.  All of these options are very location-based: what works in Grand Forks might not in Rapid City, and Duluth has its own problems altogether.  So what can a regional event calendar hope to do to help everyone?

There’s a new feature for finding cheap or free lodging here on Northern Plains Athletics: Homestays.  It’s a simple idea, stolen from my few seasons as a collegiate cyclist.  You find a race, you find people living there who are willing to let you crash with them because you’re a [cyclist | runner | skier | triathlete], and you pay them back with a six pack and a promise to pay it forward.  Detailed instructions are here.  It’s easy to host.  It’s easy to not host.  If you view an event page, local homestays are listed–or will be, if we can achieve a critical mass.  It’s free–Northern Plains Athletics isn’t involved in any transactions between host and traveling athlete–although we do provide a place for your airbnb or Couchsurfing URLs.

With costs going up, it makes no sense to not take advantage of the incredible network of people you race against, sometimes week in and week out.  I envision a way to make these bonds stronger, to make the distance from here to there seem a little bit less, and to build up a real social network.  You can use this website, or not.  You can take the idea and use it to get more people to your club’s event, or not.  Think of it as a grand experiment.  Tell me what works, tell me what doesn’t, and we’ll go from there.

How well do you know the person next to you?