I recently had the great opportunity to interview fellow cycling advocate, Dave Sanderson, the chair of Pedal Fergus Falls, a Minnesota bike advocacy group. What began as a simple conversation about advocacy turned into an inspiring deep dive into the work Pedal Fergus Falls has done and continues to do for our cycling community.
Pedal Fergus Falls: Minnesota Bike Advocacy in Action
Pedal Fergus Falls, a Minnesota bike advocacy group, is a chapter of the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota. The group is dedicated to making biking and walking safe, easy and fun for all.
As a result of the group’s dedication, Fergus Falls is a bicycle-friendly city, according to The League of American Bicyclists. Additionally, the group was recently awarded Silver status, stepping up from Bronze in a short amount of time.
Who Is Dave Sanderson?
Dave Sanderson worked as a family physician for 37 years until retiring in 2011. An avid cycler, Dave’s list of accomplishments includes a successful cross country cycling trip, a 3,700-mile feat. At age 72, he continues to cycle 3-4 times a week, enjoying both road biking and mountain biking around Minnesota.
Due to his experience as a physician, Dave understood the health benefits of cycling as well as the importance of safety. So, after retirement, he wanted to promote safe cycling for all. In pursuit of his passion, he became a League Cycling Instructor through the League of American Bicyclists. He has also served as the chair of Pedal Fergus Falls since its inception in 2014.
Putting in the Hard Work Required to Make Minnesota a Safer Place for Cyclists & Pedestrians
The majority of the interview consisted of Dave regaling the amazing work Pedal Fergus Falls has completed in only six years. Many times, he took a break to laugh, asking if he should “keep going.” Of course!
Pedal Fergus Falls: Major Accomplishments Thus Far
It would be impossible for me to pinpoint which accomplishments achieved by the group were the most important, as they each help move Minnesota forward. The list we came away with covered two entire pages. Here’s but a sample of the accomplishments Dave shared:
- Became a member of the Cycling With Age organization and purchased three-wheeled, powered bikes for local nursing home residents to enjoy rides
- Received a grant to begin work with the City of Fergus Falls to complete a bike and pedestrian master plan to improve infrastructure and safety
- Built the 2.5-miles-long Ferber Park Mountain Bike trail on city property through volunteer work with hopes to expand in 2020
- Implemented seven bike Fix-It stations throughout Fergus Falls to help cyclists air up their tires and fix broken parts while cycling
- Assisted the city of Fergus Falls in placing over two hundred bike racks
- Implemented the Bike Sharing program, allowing healthcare facilities, libraries and more offer their employees, customers and patients free transportation via bike
- Helped 18 businesses become bike-friendly within Fergus Falls, the most businesses in any city across Minnesota
- Placed sculptural bike racks built by local artists throughout the city
- Encouraged the city to add infrastructure such as dedicated bike lanes and trails in Fergus Falls
Throughout the year, Pedal Fergus Falls also facilitates many bike rides and events for all ages, including:
- The Mayor’s Bike Ride
- Bike Your Park Day
- Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day
- Lake Alice 100
- The Kids Bike Rodeo
- 30 Days of Biking in April
Pedal Fergus Falls has plenty of efforts on the docket for the next few years, such as creating bicycle playgrounds. According to Dave, none of this would be possible without the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota who supports Pedal Fergus Falls in every effort.
How You Can Get Involved
If you want to get involved in bike advocacy, Dave says safety should be your first priority:
“The number one thing is bike safety. Learn to ride appropriately and safely.”
By simply making an effort to bike safely, we can improve cycling for all.
Let’s Follow the Example Set by Pedal Fergus Falls
It’s impossible to leave Dave’s presence without being inspired by the work of this group of passionate advocates. It’s through their work and the work of countless others that Minnesota will become a safer place for all cyclists and pedestrians. It’s my sincere hope that I follow in the footsteps of people like Dave to do what I can to make that dream a reality.