Minneapolis Bike Master Plan: What’s up with maintenance?

One Less Bike Lane Pothole - Scholls Ferry Road, Washington County, Oregon

Minneapolis recently released a draft of a Bicycle Master Plan for the city.  It includes a list of projects with a summary of eligibility for funding based on a number of qualifying criteria.  As an astute commenter noticed, a surprising number of projects meet all the qualifying criteria except “Operations and Maintenance”.  The plan explains the Operations and Maintenance criteria this way:

Are the operations and maintenance responsibilities defined? Proposed projects must identify how a project will be maintained before it can be submitted. Projects must also demonstrate that the project can be maintained in a cost effective manner for the life of the project.

In Chapter 8 of the plan (page 8-5), we get a hint about why so many projects are not meeting the O&M criterion:

The [Minneapolis] Public Works operating budget has been stretched to the point where new outside funding sources must be identified in order to provide adequate maintenance for new bicycle related projects.

If the project doesn’t have outside funds for maintenance (not just capital), the city can’t build it.  That makes sense, because we don’t want brand new trails only to see them crumble in a few years.  The plan identifies a number of potential permanent funding sources for maintenance, including a maintenance endowment, a sales tax on bikes and equipment, bicycle registration fees, naming rights and advertising, and more.

This is an important issue.  Clearly this is one of the major barriers to getting new bicycle projects built in the city.  The plan proposes a dedicated funding stream for capital projects, but the answer for maintenance costs seems less certain.  What are your ideas for funding ongoing maintenance of bicycle facilities?  Would you support a sales tax on bikes and equipment?  What about a bicycle registration fee?

6 thoughts on “Minneapolis Bike Master Plan: What’s up with maintenance?

  1. Minneapolis use to have bicycle licensing as a revenue stream, and that money would go to maintaining and improving biking facilities.

    I’d be in favor of a yearly bike license if that money just went to maintenance of bike paths and facilities. I would want to be sure though that the money went for biking, and not be lumped into a general fund.

  2. Sales tax on new/used autos is dedicated to roads and transit. A similar approach with cycling would generate a lot of funding for cycling infrastructure maintenance, but would obviously leave a hole in general funds (which seems to have its own $6B problems lately).

    It seems like an additional tax surcharge on bikes and bike equipment would be one approach, but I would guess it drives many to purchase bikes/equipment online (and also not pay the laughable Minneapolis ‘use tax’). We are approaching the limits of a sensible sales tax, nearly 8%.

    Maintenance seems to be falling short all over, drawing down the balance sheet of total infrastructure. Adequately funding the maintenance of ALL infrastructure we value seems to be a greater policy than “gee we’re broke, find your own funding source”, especially while simultaneously pursuing new operating budget liabilities (like streetcars).

  3. Has any Minneapolis trail or bike lane ever been maintained?
    Not that I have seen. I think it is because the parks and city council find they get more news mention and photos for rebuilding a trail than for maintaining it.

    Cedar Lake trail is dying much ahead of it’s time and is now on the priority list because of the lack of maintenance. Lakes Harriet and Calhoun will be following soon.

    As one of the people evaluating Minnesota recreational trail projects for Federal matching funds. I can tell you that lack of a credible trail maintenance plan is a big mark against a project.
    Lack of funding is not a credible excuse. If you cannot afford to maintain what you have, why should we pay for adding to your system.

    Compare that with the projects that Three Rivers Park District plans. They have the maintenance funds planned and maintenance scheduled at the time they create the proposal for a new trail. This includes specific years for seal coating and major maintenance along with ongoing crack filling and repairs.

  4. Pingback: A proposal to fund Minneapolis bike projects | Net Density

  5. Some good points above. As for funding maintenance, bike taxes will only discourage people from getting on bikes and should be avoided.

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