Vision 2020 gets bike friendly funding; Austin, Jordal dissent amidst grant concerns

Published 10:34 am Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Vision 2020 is getting some help from the city of Austin to pursue a Bike Friendly City designation from a national bicycling organization — though some Austin City Council members aren’t so sure about helping out.

The council approved a $500 donation Monday by a 5-2 vote to Vision 2020’s Bike/Walk Trail Committee. Council members Jeff Austin and Michael Jordal dissented.

Austin recently learned it was close to the Bike Friendly City designation after representatives from various bicycling organizations gave Vision 2020 volunteers a practice test.

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Austin scored quite high in the League of Bicyclists’ five categories: encouragement, education, enforcement, evaluation and planning, and engineering.

Though the Bike/Walk Trail Committee hadn’t initially set out for a designation, volunteers thought it was a logical step forward.

Vision 2020 plans to work with the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota to get Austin the Bike Friendly City designation from the American League of Bicyclists, which will cost about $4,000.

The council approved a request to act as Vision 2020’s financial agent earlier in the meeting.

Committee Chairman Steven Kime told the council the group had raised about $3,500 toward the application fee from State Health Improvement Program grants, the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau, and private donations.

Yet Austin pointed out Vision 2020 had said they wouldn’t seek funding from city for the designation at the council’s last meeting.

“Maybe this group should have had their funding in order before they came to the city,” he said.

Kime pointed out he had told the council Vision 2020 may ask for funding after exhausting other avenues. Mayor Tom Stiehm said he supported Kime’s efforts given his history of volunteerism.

“Nobody works for the city harder than Steve Kime,” he said. “I think we need to give this serious consideration.”

Vision 2020 will start the application process next month and plans to submit its proposal through the city in February.