To promote safe bicycle use downtown, the personal injury law firm of Hoyt & Blewett PLLC took an unprecedented step forward for bicycle safety and installed the very first bicycle locker in Great Falls, Montana, as reported by the Great Falls Tribune. Located across the street from the Cascade County Courthouse, our bicycle locker was installed during a comprehensive, innovative remodel of our office building and its surrounding property.
Our legal team has been working remotely for the past several months to allow for and expedite the remodel, conducted by Guy Tabacco Construction. We also contracted with L'Heureux Page Werner Architecture to help construct the design of our remodeled office.
An Office Remodel with Safe Streets in Mind
According to Attorney Anders Blewett, a partner of our firm, “Downtown is starting to gain momentum, and we wanted to help spruce up our property to be a part of the positive changes downtown. We also got tired of waiting for our brown shag carpet to come back in style.”
As a bicyclist himself, Attorney Blewett explained that the majority of his excitement regarding the remodel has to do with the city’s first bicycle locker.
“I used to haul my bicycle into the office and bang into doors and walls along the way,” Attorney Blewett commented. “The new bicycle locker will prevent some scars and serve as kind of a doghouse.”
A former politician in the Montana House of Representatives and the Montana Senate, Attorney Blewett now serves as the vice president of the River’s Edge Trail Foundation and is a proud public safety and bicycle advocate. According to him, one of the primary missions of the new bicycle locker at the firm is to promote bicycle safety downtown, as well as showcase the benefits of bicycle commuting. He himself commutes to the downtown office alongside several other Hoyt & Blewett PLLC attorneys.
Attorney Blewett explained, “Studies show that getting people out of their cars is good for business because it increases foot traffic and gets people spending money downtown.”
Although many people would not want to commute by bike during the frigid winter months, “With the River’s Edge Trail servicing so many neighborhoods, Great Falls has a lot of potential for bicycle commuting in the warmer months,” according to Attorney Blewett.
The crux of the issue is that the city simply does not have enough bicycle infrastructure at the moment, and we aim to remedy this issue. We have represented numerous individuals injured in bicycle accidents, and we know that making Montana more bicycle-friendly would greatly reduce the number of these crashes while, at the same time, encouraging a healthy and eco-friendly mode of transportation.
Attorney Blewett explained his belief that simply adding more designated bicycle lanes, street markings, signage, bicycle lockers, bicycle racks, and the like would go a long way toward creating safer streets and an overall more welcoming downtown area for families, pedestrians, and bicyclists.
“A lot of vehicle drivers strongly believe they own the road, and that mentality doesn’t help promote a safe environment for bicyclists or pedestrians,” Attorney Blewett said.
The State of Bicycle Safety in Montana
When Attorney Blewett served as a member of the Montana Senate, he organized a public rally in 2012 to advocate for the adoption of a policy called “Complete Streets.” This push was ultimately rejected by the City Commission of Great Falls, but many of its concepts were incorporated into another plan, the Long Range Transportation Plan, which was adopted by the City Commission in 2018.
Yet, bicycle infrastructure remains limited in Great Falls, according to Attorney Blewett. For instance, while sharrows (a shared-use marking) were added to 1st Street South, downtown continues to lack designated bicycle lanes. In addition, there is only limited signage that encourages bicyclists to venture out into the core of the city. This has resulted in Montana earning a ranking of 47th in the nation for bicycle-friendliness from the League of American Bicyclists.
Despite all this, Attorney Blewett remains hopeful that Great Falls could lead Montana and launch its bicycle-friendly ranking closer to the top of the list. A huge part of this, he explained, is a push to improve the alternative transportation options available in the downtown district.
“Enhancing livability and injecting lifeblood is the key to revitalizing downtown, and I believe adding bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure and promoting safe bicycle use is an important part of the process,” Attorney Blewett said with conviction.
Current Bicycle-Friendly Initiatives
Fortunately, progress seems to be right on the horizon. For instance, the Great Falls Downtown Development Partnership (DDP) is attempting to persuade the city to convert 1st and 2nd Avenue South from three-lane, one-way streets to two-lane streets. According to Attorney Blewett, this conversion would include bicycle lanes and allow traffic to flow in both directions, which could be very beneficial to downtown and bicyclists.
Moreover, Attorney Blewett pointed to the fact that more and more businesses — such as the Celtic Cowboy, Mighty Mo Brewing Company, Al Banco, Smoked, and MT Pints — have embraced bicyclists via the implementation of bicycle racks for their patrons. What’s the significance? A booming bicycle culture could be boiling just beneath the surface.
Regardless of whether this theory of a pending bicycle revolution is correct, Attorney Blewett fully intends to continue commuting by bicycle any chance he gets. He is hopeful that Hoyt & Blewett PLLC’s innovative bicycle locker will spark change in Great Falls’ biking culture by encouraging the development of more bicycle infrastructure and emboldening other residents to bike downtown for leisure and as a mode of transportation.
About Hoyt & Blewett PLLC
Hoyt & Blewett PLLC is a Montana personal injury practice nationally recognized for our work in obtaining many of the state’s top personal injury verdicts and settlements, including numerous seven and eight figure recoveries. In addition to bicycle accident claims, we represent injured plaintiffs in cases concerning auto accidents, trucking accidents, construction accidents, workplace accidents, product liability, insurance bad faith, and more.
Call Hoyt & Blewett PLLC at (406) 233-1302 or fill out an online form to get in touch with our legal team.