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Pioneer Editorial: Cheers and Jeers

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A bicycle friendly downtown Bemidji

In a decision last week, the Downtown Development Authority, known as the DDA, is proposing several new locations for bike racks in downtown Bemidji.

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The proposal, on the heels of nixing a controversial rack in front of the Cabin Coffeehouse and Café, shows both leadership and vision by the DDA.

Members are proposing 18-bike corrals on Third Street Northwest near Patterson's Menswear, on Minnesota Avenue Northwest north of the Third Street intersection and on Fourth Street east of the Beltrami Avenue intersection.

Previously, the controversial on-street rack in front of the Cabin stirred strong emotions by both supporters and opponents.

Both sides voiced legitimate arguments, and the DDA compromise offers a sound solution to promote a cycle-friendly downtown.

While there are 30 public and private bike racks already in place, the addition of more racks sends a positive message to citizens and visitors.

A community embracing bicycling promotes environmentally friendly practices. It promotes active living and healthy lifestyles. And the DDA process shows the value of citizen input and gave interested parties a chance to weigh in on the decision.

More can be done in Bemidji to improve accessibility for the elderly, disabled and recreational traffic, but the decision to add bike rack locations - for the community good - without favoring any single downtown tenant is a good start.

And let's hope the new racks, like the one placed in front of the Cabin the past two summers, will be art-inspired and eye-catching.

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Skol Vikings

Years from now, if someone were to look back at Minnesota's 2012 legislative session, the crowning achievement will be the approval of a new downtown Minneapolis stadium.

Gov. Mark Dayton signed a law Monday to cap the final bill approved by House and Senate members, a $975 million stadium primarily to keep the state's National Football League team in Minnesota.

Despite rigorous debate, and a decade of political wrangling, the deal was struck after marathon negotiation sessions. Perhaps best is that few are happy with all the details.

The Vikings, the primary benefactor, will pay $477 million toward construction costs, $50 million more than they wanted. The state will pay $348 million through gambling profits and Minneapolis, which must still approve its end of the deal, would pay $150 million.

With no political party able to claim victory, and Vikings' owner Zygi Wilf kicking in more money than hoped, should make it easier to accept.

Best of all, the deal gives Vikings' fans a reason to keep cheering on Sundays.

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