But converting the land will neither easy nor cheap. A giant mound of dirt lies on the north part of the land, which not only makes for a poor view, but also causes a lot of problems for the homes in the neighborhood. County engineer Dennis Luebbe estimated it could cost up to $280,000 just to move the dirt.
The type of dirt used to build the features for these parks matters, as the jumps, berms and rollers deteriorate quickly if it’s not hard-pack dirt. I’m guessing that mound of dirt at Fargaze is black dirt.
Griff, I don’t know what the dirt is but I think there must be more than black dirt. If it was most likely there would have been greater erosion. Amateur opinion. The quietness and growing popularity [of bike parks] along with the age range of participation does intrigue me. Thanks for the links and following up.
Last night while riding my around-town bike in the area, I decided to take a closer look. I was shocked to not see black dirt. So today I went back, took photos, and dug (heh) a little deeper. It appears that Councilor DeLong’s amateur opinion was correct.
First, some perspective:
The mound of dirt looking west, south, and north. Far right: looking north from atop the mound.
Left: My markup of the Google Earth view of the Fargaze parcel. Right: satellite view of the neighborhood with the pond and the mound.
Left and center: two of several dirt cuts/washout areas that indicate that the mound is not made of black dirt. Right: the dirt cuts/washout areas viewable from Google Earth’s satellite.
Primary access to the dirt mound is at the corner of Ford St E and Brogan Dr. (left). Once on top, it appears that the mound is big enough to locate a significant portion of a bike park on top of it. The dirt could easily be moved to build the bike park adjacent to / south of where the mound is. Or both.
While I was there, a couple of thugs helpful staffers from the City of Northfield’s Public Works Department pulled up in a city truck to inform me that I was trespassing. I politely thanked them and profusely apologized, promising to never do it again. (Consider this paragraph to be one of these.)
As for the type of dirt needed for a bike park, a guy I know who’s working on the bike park in Cottage Grove wrote to me:
You want to be able to make a dirt ball, like a snow ball out of it. If it holds together, maybe bounce it a little to see how it holds up. If it does, that’s good. Also look for that reddish brown color. That is mineral soil.
I scraped some some dirt from the side of the dirt cut, brought it home, mixed it with some water and made a ball. It split apart when I dropped it from a height of about a foot so it may not be perfect. I put it in the sun and it was baked into a hard rock by day’s end. So it’s definitely promising and probably worth the money to have a company drill soil samples of the dirt mound.
Once the community was ready to develop the park, they reached out to Alpine Bike Parks to develop the full-service public bike park facility. Mechanized construction included slopestyle downhill trails, skills development areas, and competitive mountain cross and dual slalom courses. These trails raised the public profile of the project and assisted in developing capital for future project phases, including additional skills areas, and competitive BMX and mountain bike race courses.
Duration of Construction: Two months
Scope: Master planning, trail design, trail construction, community outreach.
Methods: Excavators, tracked loaders and skid steers, hand shaping
Client: City of Eagle, Idaho
Curious as to what a pump track is all about? Like swinging higher and higher on a swing with no one pushing you, it’s going around and around the track on your bike without pedaling, a foundational skill that makes mountain biking even more fun. Watch this video of instruction for a high school mountain bike team:
Lastly, I realize that neighbors in the area may have concerns about having a bike park adjacent to their property. If you’re a neighbor and reading this, please attach a comment or contact me.
During the meeting, my eyes widened as we heard details from BikeMN staff and board members about the myriad of bike-related activities, projects, collaborations that they’re involved in. (See the Education and Advocacy pages on their website for a glimpse.)
The city of Bemidji was granted the bronze Bicycle Friendly Community (BFC) designation by the League of American Bicyclists(LAB) on Monday October 22, 2012. The award was the culmination of persistent efforts by many community leaders and advocates including Mayor Dave Larson, Parks & Recreation Director Marcia Larson as well as health, tourism, bicycling, law enforcement, transportation and environmental representatives from the community. BikeMN has been involved along the way and helped in preparing the BFC application.
I think the timing for mounting an effort to gain formal Bicycle Friendly Community designation is right:
What’s not clear to me is what city board or commission would be best to consider taking this on. The City of Northfield created a Non Motorized Transportation Task Force (NMTTF) back in 2007 that I think sun-setted a couple years later. Might it be time to create something similar but specifically for bicycling?
Frostbite. Sleep deprivation. Harrowing descents in pitch blackness. It’s all part of the strange allure of the Arrowhead 135: an extreme ski, bike or foot race in far northern Minnesota that begins before dawn on Monday morning. It’s one of the nation’s craziest endurance races, and a huge challenge for participants.
For the next three days, they will haul themselves and their survival gear 135 miles through Minnesota’s North Woods — from International Falls to Tower — in the most mind- and toe-numbing endurance race in the lower 48 states.
Trekking the equivalent of St. Paul to Iowa while dragging a sled behind you on 30-below nights might seem a sadistic death sentence to most. Relocate the quest to Minnesota’s most remote wilderness in the midst of a bitter winter — with rescue an iffy proposition — and you’ve got a race that’s irresistible to some
I’m doing some consulting work on the 2nd Annual Fat Bike Winter Summit & Festival coming up at the end of January in the West Yellowstone area, so I’m locked in on the trend. And the Expo gave me a picture of how much enthusiasm there is here in Minnesota for fat biking.
I don’t (yet) own a fat bike. Last winter I didn’t need one, since we had so little snow. My hardtail 29′er worked fine just about everywhere I went. But with a solid 8 inches from our weekend snowstorm, things are looking up for a decent winter. And more and more of Minnesota’s mountain bike parks and other trails allow mountain bikes.
So let’s use the discussion thread attached to this blog post to discuss winter biking locations, conditions, equipment, group rides, and events.
His idea was to have his students take a close look at the relevant research that’s been cited to support or oppose my contention that the promotion of helmet wearing for around-town bicycling is bad for public health.
I spoke to his class on October 5 and yesterday asked him for an update. He wrote:
The class is divided into four groups investigating the questions listed below. They will have reports addressing these ready at the end of the term. That’s where things stand at the moment.
By the way, if you have any suggestions for the question list (which the students are also modifying as they get into their research), please feel free to share those.
I suggested to Neil that I post the four groups of questions here on LoGro and invite suggestions and discussion from interested citizens.
1. Bicycle accident overview
What is the overall risk of injury in cycling?
Who is injured? Where or under what conditions are injuries more or less likely to occur?
How does this risk and injuries sustained in accidents vary as a function of helmet wearing?
Is correct helmet use related to injury outcome?
Do helmets make injuries worse (considering rotational head injuries vs. concussions and abrasions)?
What are these accident numbers like in cross-national comparisons?
2. Helmet use promotion
What laws and programs exist to promote helmet use?
How much helmet use is there? Do people wear helmets correctly?
Do government policies have an effect on helmet use?
What evidence suggests the suggestion or imperative to wear a helmet inhibits cycling?
What are common attitudes toward helmet wearing?
3. Helmet wearing and rider and driver safety
Is the density of ridership related to cyclist safety?
Do cyclists wearing helmets behave in a riskier fashion? Is this due to helmet use?
Are drivers less cautious when encountering cyclists with helmets? If so, why?
4. Health and inactivity
What are the health consequences of inactivity?
What are the health benefits of cycling?
Does cycling make a difference to physical health and the health of the environment?
If people weren’t cycling, what would they do? What alternative forms of exercise and transportation are there?
Every Saturday, Sunday and Holiday from 2:30 to 6:30pm from mid-April through Halloween. The CPDSA sets up a sophisticated sound system and plays music for all dance skaters. The event is free and is supported by the membership of the CPDSA. Our Circle is attended by hundreds of skaters and enjoyed by thousands of spectators each weekend.
It not only drew a large group of dance skaters but an even larger crowd of onlookers because the skaters were pretty entertaining, if not for their skating ability, acrobatics and various antics then for their outfits.
It occurred to me that something similar could easily be done on and around Bridge Square in downtown Northfield. All it would take would be some local organization (YMCA? Community Ed and Rec? NDDC?) to take it on for a season.
In a Star Tribune story earlier this week, Minneapolis Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator Shaun Murphy was photographed on his bike, without a helmet. He told the reporter that he doesn’t always wear a helmet because he doesn’t want the activity to appear dangerous or scary. "I just want it to be seen as something that a normal person can do," said Murphy.
As you might imagine, comments posted online and letters to the editor took Murphy to task. After the story ran, Murphy was told by supervisors that he now has to wear a helmet on the job. But at least one Minnesota bike advocate is on Murphy’s side, presenting some counter-intuitive data that is stirring up controversy on two wheels.
That advocate would be me.
"The studies out there are irrefutable that wearing a helmet is safer than not wearing a helmet," said Bufton. "The cost is low and the return is high. We’re not militant on it and we’re not at the Legislature asking for mandatory helmet laws."
Bufton misses my point. The cost is low for an individual person but from an overall public health impact, we’re inadvertently paying a high price by such over-zealous promotion of helmet-wearing for casual biking.
Wigley is happy about that. Meanwhile, he will continue to ride his bike and wear a helmet, but he sure won’t tell you what to do.
Not quite. I no longer wear a helmet for around-town/casual biking. I do wear a helmet at all other times. And if you’re a public official, I will tell you what to do: for the sake of public health, set an example like me.
I think public officials and other community leaders should stop the promotion of helmet-wearing for around-town bicycling and instead, work on all the other issues related to getting people, including kids, to ride bikes more, including doing what it takes to make the activity safer. There’s a considerable body of research to support this.
I have very few, if any, kids reading my Locally Grown Northfield blog. My blog post that’s titled “Photos of Northfielders biking around town without helmets: all the cool kids are doing it” was not aimed at kids and contains no photos of kids. The phrase “all the cool kids” is a generic, cultural reference that doesn’t directly refer to kids but anyone (for example, Suing Madonna, Self-publishing, Quitting Facebook).
But it’s very likely that kids will find out about my helmet-related blog posts, either on their own or from teachers, parents, or members of the local bike clubs. If they ask me, I’ll explain my position.
In Northfield and elsewhere in MN, the vast majority of high school age teenagers using their skateboards and BMX bikes in municipal skateparks don’t wear helmets. Insurance doesn’t require it as long as the obstacles are under 48 inches high. But if you go to a BMX or skateboard stunt show, all the performers wear helmets. Most kids would understand why: speed and height make a difference. An analogy: should parents let their kids play in the street? Pretty much everyone would say that it depends on the age of the kid, the type of street, and the type of play. Kids gradually learn the subtleties of playing in the street and by the time they’re in high school, it’s a non-issue. Likewise, with helmet-wearing.
Boys especially don’t want to appear to be overly concerned with safety. I insisted that my three sons wore helmets from the time they were toddlers but once they were 14 or so, they refused to do it for around-town biking. They had no hesitation on wearing a helmet when I took them mountain biking or road riding.
I’m 100% in favor of promoting the importance of wearing helmets for mountain biking, road biking, gravel riding, and all forms of bike competition and I would hammer this point home and enforce it rigorously with the high school student athletes. And I would not use my coaching/face time with them to promote my position about helmets and around-town biking.
NICA gave me a choice:
…while NICA’s rules do not govern what Griff does outside of the context of his high school mountain bike coaching, NICA does find his position on helmet use contradictory to our risk management and safety standards. Thus, NICA staff are not supportive of his position regarding helmet use nor his public blogging on this subject. NICA encourages Griff to chose between abiding by the NICA rules at all times – in order to serve as a role model – or not coach.
I replied in part:
One thing I didn’t state in my “Griff’s position” statement was that it never occurred to me that my blogging about helmets for around-town biking would have anything to do with mountain biking. I simply never made the mental connection. If I had, I probably would have avoided the issue altogether.
While it’s unfortunate, I don’t regret doing it. I really do believe in what I wrote about the issue so I can’t in good faith go back on it. So I have decided to withdraw as team director and assistant coach.
And while I’ve put in a lot of hours in this over several months, I have no regrets — no bad feelings whatsoever. I’ve really enjoyed and benefited from all of it, especially the two-days of Leadership Summit training…
I met with the officers of the CVCC to clarify my position that I would always insist that anyone on a club-sanctioned mountain bike ride with me would have to wear a helmet. Their response:
In the end, most felt that we can’t as a Club endorse a position which suggests publicly that riding without a helmet at any time on the bike is advisable. It was very tough to decide whether this meant that individuals within the Club are speaking for the Club, but in the end it was decided that anyone whose name is on the CVVC home page “Club Officers” table could be construed as speaking for the Club. Given that your position as expressed in blog posts is in conflict with our helmet policy (and that you stand by this position), we decided that this means your name should not be listed as a club officer.
So as a club member, I can informally invite others to go on mountain bike rides with me. I just can’t be an official ride leader.
I harbor no ill will towards either NICA nor CVCC, even though I strongly disagree with them. It’s a tricky issue and insurance/risk management makes it even more so.
There are many ways for me to contribute to the sport of mountain biking and bicycling in general. I won’t be shy about letting you know what I’m up to. If it’s Northfield-related, I’ll let you know here on LoGro. Otherwise, stay tuned to my Mountain Bike Geezer blog and/or follow MTBikeGeezer on Twitter.
If you live downtown and need your car tomorrow (4th of July), move it before you go to bed tonight because the barricades for the 13th annual 4th of July Criterium (bicycle races, for the clueless) start going up at 5 am on the 4th.
One of Mary Witt’s sons, Ben Witt of Milltown Cycles, is the organizer of this event so she was out last night plastering flyers on the doors of all the downtown area residences. The flyer reads in part:
If you live within the course and will need the use of your car during the day of July 4th, you will need to move your car outside of the course prior to the event. Exceptions will not be made and cars will not be permitted under any circumstances during the duration of the day.
After catching a few acts at the Junebug Festival of Music at the Cow on Thursday, Robbie and I were walking back to our car and noticed this woman pulling in – with help from her son—a monster carp on the west side of Riverwalk.
For some of the photos, I’ll identify people by name. For others, I’ll just post them with maybe a note about where the photo was taken. As I add photos to this blog post, I’ll add a comment to the thread to alert everyone that a new photo has been added.
I bought a PDW Bar-ista coffee mug holder from Mike’s Bike Shop here in Northfield a few weeks ago. Drinking coffee while riding a bike adds a whole other dimension of pleasure to the experience. I’m not likely to add reading the newspaper or listening to music to the activity, as that would be setting a bad example.
It should be noted, however, that adult athletes aren’t perfect when it comes to the latter. While riding my bike by one of the ball fields at Sechler Park last week, there were cigarette packs and beer cans strewn about after a softball game, with a box of empties left behind.
Since I rediscovered mountain biking a year ago, I’ve been promoting the sport to whoever’s willing to listen to my lecture: the new style, erosion-resistant flow trails are hugely fun, even for beginners. And while it helps to have a mountain bike, some of the beginner trails can be ridden with a hybrid bike.
As the new mountain bike ride coordinator for the Cannon Valley Velo Club, I’m going to be scheduling rides for all levels of riders in the coming months. (If you’d like to be kept informed, register here.)
C Level: experienced at riding gravel or dirt trails/roads, few hills, no obstacles
D Level: little or no off-road experience
Riders with A or B level skills are welcome to attend but you’ll be on your own.
Salem Hills was built specifically for beginning/intermediate riders:
The park is about 70 acres, laid out in a long north/south direction with gently rolling hills, a small pond and wet land area. A major portion of the park is reclaimed farm land that has been seeded with natural prairie grasses and wildflowers. The city also has sections seeded with hardwoods along with a few small sections of pine forest and a few sections of hardwood forest.
Wed, June 13: meet at Bridge Square at 4:45 pm if you need a ride. We depart at 5:10.
Meet at Salem Hills at 5:45. We head out on the trails at 6 pm and return to the parking lot no later than sunset, but more likely between 8 and 8:30.
If the trails are wet, they’re closed, so check here for an update. I’ll confirm the ride by noon.
Bring a water bottle. Wear athletic shoes. You have to ride with a helmet on your head. I’ll have tools.
I took this photo of Cody Larson and Jake Olsen biking to work this morning. They weren’t wearing bike helmets, a perfectly reasonable and safe thing to do for around town biking according to the research discussed here.
These gentlemen need to look their best at work, so they leave their helmets at home when commuting and biking around town. Plus, they know that they’re helping to contribute to the overall public health of the community by setting a good example. Yep. The promotion of the wearing of bike helmets for around town biking reduces bicycling and the public health benefits of cycling. Who’da thunk of those unintended consequences?
(It’s absolutely not true that Jake and Cody were smoking cigarettes and texting while biking just before I took this photo. That’s just a vicious rumor circulating on the intertubes.)
Contrast their fresh, cool and professional appearance with the way I looked this morning when I arrived at GBM after a hard commute from my house wearing a helmet.
This is a long sucker, but it rolls through some beautiful, quiet country. Main rest stop is projected at the Straight River Inn Cafe in downtown Hope, MN at about 67 miles. There will be opportunities for water and convenience store food/beverages in Waterville (35 miles) and Nerstrand (113 miles), but it’s wide open country otherwise, so plan food and water accordingly!
Robbie and I attended the world premiere of Reveal the Path at the Riverview Theater in Minneapolis last night, along with a few hundred other bike nuts and quite a few Northfielders:
A visually stunning adventure by bike: Reveal the Path explores the world’s playgrounds in Europe’s snow capped mountains, Scotland’s lush valleys, Alaska’s rugged coastal beaches and Morocco’s high desert landscapes…
Filmed across four continents and featuring Tour Divide race legends, Matthew Lee & Kurt Refsnider, this immersive film is sure to ignite the dream in you.
Luminaries from QBP and its Salsa Cycles division, the main sponsor of the movie and the event, were on hand. They were marginally adequate as movie theater attendants:
Left: Former Northfielder John Gaddo, QBP Outside Sales Rep Center: Andy Palmer, Salsa Customer Service Right: John Gaddo and Jason Boucher, Salsa General Manager. See Jason’s ImagineGnat blog ("Bicycles – Photography – People – Exploration")
Some Northfielders and other bike nuts at the schmooze fest in the theater lobby:
… is an annual drunken softball game played during Spring Term. It has as many innings as the number of years since Carleton was founded. In recent years, T-shirts for people who arrive at Rotblatt early has become a major CSA budget item, exempted by tradition from rules that prohibit spending on personal property.
So while wearing a bike helmet might be good for you personally (I always do but even the research on that is questionable), it’s bad public policy to promote the wearing of bicycle helmets.
If you’re a parent and insist that your young kids wear helmets, realize that you’re likely creating a strong incentive for them to abandon bike riding when they become teenagers and to see driving a car as the only socially acceptable form of local transportation.
May 23 8 am update: I’ve changed the name of the blog post from “Bike helmets are bad for the public health of Northfield” to “Bike helmet promotions are bad for the public health of Northfield.” See the discussion below.
While riding my bike though Riverside Park last night, I noticed that the blacktop pad has been recently seal coated. A few minutes later, I got the official word from these skateboarders that the temporary skate park will open sometime this week.
May 24 update: Installation began yesterday afternoon. See these photos:
Helen Albers: A big Tree Hug to all of our town tree-lovers! With thanks to all who have responded to express their appreciation of trees! Happy Holidays! Helen Albers
Beth Kallestad: Thank you Helen for your tree planting and reminding us of the need to protect those trees!
John S. Thomas: It truly is a beautiful tree. I am still “sick” of the way the trees on Fourth Street look. It will be MANY years before they mature… and I hope they do!
Marsha Kitchel: What a lovely photo of Helen Albers, beautiful in red, hugging her red maple. Hold on for dear life if “new and improved” means touching this gorgeous tree or any of the trees on Bridge Square. Northfielders would be...
Griff Wigley: Northfield City Engineer Joe Stapf sent me these photos today of the repairs to Armstrong Road and the adjacent Mill Towns Trail. Joe wrote: The trail paving is complete (still being rolled so not yet open), and the roadway is...
Doug Peterson: Hi Griff, After reading Jan Hill’s reply, I realize my mis-understanding on “riding the rails”. You got me. Can I blame that on getting old?
Jan Hill: I knew this was a send-up, Griff, having investigated possible routes ourselves (and knowing you!) But I thought for sure the cyclist on the rail was a fake–until I watched the video. Now that’s scary.
Griff Wigley: Nick, I’ve heard from another Northfielder on this who wrote via email: The part where you suggest that riders go on to the active rail line does not make good common sense to me. I have worked on the railroad as a head...
Nick Benson: Your non-pussy readers should note that trespassing on railroad tracks, as shown there, is both dangerous and illegal; trains can be surprisingly quiet when approaching on smooth welded rail like that, which doesn’t...
Ross Currier: I just walked through Bridge Square and ALL THREE of the tables were occupied. It didn’t look like they were playing chess, though, more like eating lunch… …and what a day for it, in beautiful downtown Northfield,...
Griff Wigley: The three picnic tables were installed last week. Each has an inlaid backgammon and chess/checkerboard. I’ve added photos to the blog post above.
Griff Wigley: Joe, thanks for that explanation. And if your eighth grade English teacher, Mrs. Gentilini, is still around, I think she might approve of your communications style.
kiffi summa: Joe or Mr. Stapf… Thanks for the explanation; I think its/they’re great, and long overdue… I just didn’t want anything to put off the Bridge Square redesign implementation … and often it’s...
Joe Stapf: Ah-h-h-h, yes, The Gaming Tables… Question #1) Who authorized them!!!??? I did. The picnic tables (if you recall, a trial) were deemed by me to have been a success. We received absolutely 100%, pure, unadulterated positive feedback...
Griff Wigley: Two new parking-related blog posts: A bicycle field trip with Dale Gehring to get smarter about ‘making the connections’ http://northfielddowntownparki ng.org/2013/08/30/a-bicycle-fi eld-trip-with-dale-gehring-...
Griff Wigley: New blog post: Proposed layout of directional and way-finding signs for public parking
Griff Wigley: New blog post: Washington St. lot restriped to optimize parking spaces
Griff Wigley: Blog post update: recommended downtown parking management action steps for Aug. 13 Council work session
Griff Wigley: Blog post update: July 31 parking management planning meeting at City Hall
Griff Wigley: There is a Prayer Walk for the Northfield School District today, 4-8 pm: By Maria KayLynn Olson and Kiersten-Kiwi Williams Bielenberg Schedule: 4:00-4:25 Prairie Creek 4:30-4:55 Arcadia 5:00-5:25 Greenvale 5:30-5:55 Sibley 6:00-6:25...
Griff Wigley: Hi Marie, thanks for asking. I’ll contact you via email.
Marie Wright: I’d like to use this photo on my website. My theme is vintage Main Street USA. I feel that I need your permission to copy this photo and use it. (Julia Rose Grey is my pen name for my genre of novels.)
Griff Wigley: Dave, I like the two-prong attack, too. Can you let us know when the short-term task force is due to meet? I’d like to attend, and I’m sure some of the neighbors would as well. And make sure that pizza with mushroom...
Griff Wigley: Nfld News article on Tuesday’s Council action on this issue: Subcommittee to explore fixes for tax-forfeited land acquired by Northfield During heavy rain, water has overtaken the yards and basements of Karen Moldenhauer and...
David DeLong: Griff, I’m told there’s over 50,000 cubic yards of dirt in the pile which translates to over 2,500 dump truck loads. I think there’s enough to go around. The problem is moving all that over residential streets, if we sell it or...
Griff Wigley: At last night’s meeting, the City Council opted to A) form a 4-week task force of 3 council members plus engineering staff and citizens to deal with the runoff problem in the neighborhood; and B) ask the Parks & Rec...
kiffi summa: good to know, Griff… I trust that you’re correct about the amount of dirt needed for the create of a bike park. Maybe if there’s so much more than needed, a berm could be created between the park and the houses, if...
Nancy Averill: Ah KDWB. THE best radio station ever. We had the KDW-Beatles. We had the KDW-Beach Boys. We were color radio. We had leaky billboards. I maintain that Professor James Francis Patrick O’Neill is the very basis of my humor. We...
Griff Wigley: Paul/George, they reopened the old culvert and put in a new larger secondary one. I’ll try to get photos.
Griff Wigley: Thanks everyone for your kind comments about the photos. I’ve added a few of downtown to the blog post above. See Rob Hardy’s comprehensive listing of links related to the flooding on Northfield.org.