Climate Generation’s Board member, Joann Knuth, recently lost her husband Dan Knuth. Dan was a state representative serving six years in the Minnesota Legislature, shaping environmental policies and protecting natural resources. Joann made a donation in honor of Dan Knuth for Climate Generation’s Voices to Power fundraiser and auction.
Dan Knuth was also the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota’s first professional lobbyist. From the initial interview it was obvious it would be a great partnership on issues related to criminal justice reform, transit, and, of course, biking. He instantly gave the upstart BikeMN credibility at the State Capitol and with new partners. And the partnership almost instantly produced some lasting results and continued until his retirement in 2014.
It certainly was a pleasure and a learning experience to work with someone that instinctively understood and could develop the key messages and strategies needed for success. Dan helped BikeMN pass some important legislation during our first couple years at the Capitol. The most important, and what I view as one of his lasting legacies, being the creation of a state level Safe Routes to School funding program. At the time the federally funded MnDOT administered grant program created and championed by the late Minnesota congressman Jim Oberstar was only funding 15 to 20 percent of the project grant requests.
Now, Minnesota’s program is recognized as one of the best in the nation. I’ll never forget our visit with Representative Melissa Hortman, now Majority Leader, to ask her to be the chief author in the House. She simply said, “I get it, you need a suburban mommy.” But, she was right, it was the right strategy and key message, and Dan knew it all along.
Dan and his wife Joann not only talked the talk, they biked it too. They were regulars for the Saint Paul Classic Bike Tour and other events and it was evident that they enjoyed riding in their neighborhood, too.
Dan always shared the results of the most recent visit to a bike shop, whether it was for a small part or accessory or a new bike. But, more importantly, it was clear that Dan, and Joann, clearly understood the potential for biking and walking to be a bigger part of the solution to the environmental, public health, and community sustainability we all are facing. I think it is a fitting tribute to Dan that Joann has donated to Climate Generation’s Earth Day Voices to Power fundraiser and silent auction.
Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota