Archive for August, 2011
Thursday, August 25th, 2011
Jim Bjorkes, a businessman from Vancouver visited Minneapolis recently, and had a fantastic time exploring the city and seeing the many sights. He credits Nice Ride for that—here’s why, in his words.
I took the train into the city from my hotel near the Mall of America, and quickly tired myself out walking from the Metrodome to the trails along the Mississippi. I really wanted to see all of downtown, the University of Minnesota, Target Field and Dinkytown. But I would’ve either had to spend a fortune in cab fare, or wear out my shoes walking miles and miles and getting lost.
Then, I noticed a Nice Ride stand, and although I’d never heard of it, the directions were easy to follow and it seemed like such a fantastic idea that I decided to give it a whirl. SO glad I did. What a deal for five bucks! And such a fantastic system.
The maps at each station made my trek around the city easy, and the bike stations were easy to find and plentiful. The bikes themselves were in great shape, and a lot of fun to ride. I went back and forth over the bridges, the university grounds, along the Mississippi—everywhere I wanted to go, everything I wanted to experience I did thanks to Nice Ride!
I spent about four hours exploring the downtown area, and used about five different stations. Thanks again! I’ll be telling everyone I know about Nice Ride and hopefully one day Vancouver, BC Canada, will adopt the same system. It’d work great in just about any city!
Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011
Hey there! Amber Collett here with Bike Walk Twin Cities. I recently met up with Jon Vick, an expert guide at Trek Travel, to talk with him about his favorite places to bicycle around the world and what keeps him coming back to the Twin Cities. Jon has been with Trek Travel for seven years and has led bicycling trips in Italy, France, California, Vermont, New Zealand, and Costa Rica. He also works with Adventure Fit announcing the Urban Assault Rides in 10 cities across the U.S. Here’s the interview.
How did you find your job?
I was working at Penn Cycle when I heard about the Trek Travel position. I found out about the job right before the application deadline. I filled out the application and drove to Madison through a blizzard to deliver it in time! I didn’t get the job –not even an interview, but that didn’t stop me. When the next application cycle came around, I thought it was too great a job to not give it a second try. My persistence paid off because this time I was hired, and my first gig was as a trip mechanic at the 2005 Tour de France. Now, I go on 8-11 trips per year. (check out some photos from those trips here.)
Do you notice a difference in drivers’ attitudes towards bicyclists when you travel? What cities are the most bike friendly?
In Italy, respect for cyclists on the road is part of the culture. Cars will patiently wait until you peak a big hill before passing you. Adelaide, in Australia, has a great network of trails and bike lanes that take you through and out of the city.
So what keeps you coming back to Minnesota? Obviously I’m biased and think our lake-based state is great, but I don’t regularly lead bicycling trips to other beautiful places like Tuscany!
I grew up in Minnesota and went to the University of Minnesota –I bleed maroon and gold! I have strong roots here. Road biking is my job, but mountain biking is my passion and I can do both of those here in Minnesota.
Some my favorite places to mountain bike include Theodore Wirth Park, Lebanon Hills, and Murphy Hanrehan. I love to get out for the Thursday night races at Buck Hill when I’m in town. On the road, one of my favorite rides is a loop from northeast Minneapolis, through the University of Minnesota, down to Ford Parkway, along the Grand Rounds to Lake Calhoun, out to Hopkins, back to downtown Minneapolis via the Cedar Lake trail, and back to my home in northeast Minneapolis.
You mentioned you own a number of bikes—how many exactly? What’s your favorite?
The current count is 12 bikes. This one’s a city bike–complete with coffee cup holder! (Me: love it!).
Do you have any tips or words of advice for traveling cyclists?
If you’re thinking about working on your own bike, remember two things. First, if you changed one thing and the problem got worse, do the opposite. Second, in general if you didn’t strip the bike, you didn’t break it. Also, if you travel to New Zealand, don’t eat the whitebait –it’s a fried-egg and minnow dish.
Thanks, Jon and safe travels!
You can follow Jon on Twitter @JonVick. And, to learn more about trips offered by Trek Travel, visit http://www.trektravel.com.
Friday, August 19th, 2011
The following is a guest post from Andrew Ranallo, communications associate at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP). (Side note: Andrew just bought a new, single-speed bike and plans to use it as much as possible before the weather turns icy)
On Saturday, Aug. 13, Minneapolis was the place to be—preferably on two wheels, rolling down a bike lane and savoring the flavor of some local nosh before heading to the next stop on Bike and Bite.
As part of its 25th anniversary celebration, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) brought 150 local bikers and local food enthusiasts together for a make-your-own-route bike ride that included some of Minneapolis’ best locally sourced restaurants and cafes, as well as farmers markets and community gardens.
The day began with sprinkling rain and some gray clouds, but every rider that rolled around the corner of IATP’s building seemed to bring a bit of sunshine—by the time registration had ended our lot was full of riders and warm August sun.
Riders of all ages pored over our stops map (created with help from Bike Walk Twin Cities), sipped some local Peace Coffee and discussed where they would go first and which route they’d take to get there.
With a ceremonial countdown, riders made their way from our lot out into First Avenue and they were off! Where would they head first? North, to the Redeemer Urban Garden with veggies supplied by the McKinley Community CSA? Or, Southwest to Lake Harriet’s Bread and Pickle? All of the stops were tantalizing to say the least.
Crema had full-sized scoops of Sonny’s Sweet Corn Ice Cream on offer. The Wedge gave riders fresh watermelon from local Gardens of Eagan. Common Roots offered homemade granola bars, and 10,000 Licks local gourmet ice pops were a hit at the Park Avenue Mini Farmers Market. The bruschetta at Midtown Farmers Market looked delicious, and last but not least some sweet treats—I know the words chocolate and cookies were involved—at Birchwood were among riders’ favorites.
As riders rolled back in to the IATP headquarters, the sweet sounds of local band Hummingbirds welcomed them (complemented by cheers of those who had finished and IATP staffers).
All in all, it was an amazing day, and a great way to celebrate IATP’s 25th anniversary. Follow IATP’s Bike and Bite on Facebook and Twitter to stay informed on plans for next year, and keep up to date on IATP’s latest work supporting sustainable agriculture and local foods at iatp.org. All of the photos from Bike and Bite are hosted on IATP’s Flickr, take a look!
Construction update: New bikeways, sidewalks near Dinkytown, Bryant Ave. and Hiawatha LRT in progress
Wednesday, August 17th, 2011
If you see road construction signs around Minneapolis, they might be related to several new bicycle and pedestrian projects, part of an increase of more than 75 miles of bike lanes and sidewalks funded by Bike Walk Twin Cities, a program of Transit for Livable Communities, through the Federal Highway Administration.
Below are highlights of some of the new routes. Check out the Twin Cities route map to see how the network for bicycling is expanding.
5th Street Bicycle Boulevard (with region’s first bicycle stoplight and better crossings for people walking )
This new route will connect Dinkytown, near the University of Minnesota, with neighborhoods in Northeast Minneapolis and connect up to the Grand Rounds off-road bike path along Saint Anthony Parkway. Also in Northeast, a new east-west route along 22nd Avenue NE connects from the Mississippi River to the Minneapolis Diagonal Trail and The Quarry shopping center.
The region’s first bicycle stoplight is coming to the intersection of 5th Street and NE Broadway. These mini-traffic signals with bicycles on them are simply triggered by pushing a button (much like people walking press the button for the walk sign).
The same intersection will be better for people walking, with better curbs and sidewalks. The same median that bikes will use to cross northbound will make it safer for people walking.
Another bonus for bicyclists is at the intersection of 5th Street and Central & Hennepin Avenues in the heart of Northeast. When cyclists pull up to this stop light, bicycle detection in the pavement will mean the light changes more quickly for cyclists and crossing is safer.
Bryant Avenue Bicycle Boulevard
This is one of the longer new bicycle routes coming to the Twin Cities, connecting from the bike and pedestrian bridge over Lyndale and Hennepin (just south of the Walker Art Center and Loring Park) through many south Minneapolis neighborhoods all the way to West 58th Street (great route for downtown bike commuters!).
New medians along Franklin Avenue (between Lyndale and Hennepin) at the north end of the route make it safer for bicyclists and pedestrians, creating a mid-street refuge.
The sidewalks and curbs also are getting a facelift at the intersection of Byrant Avenue and West 28th Avenue and West 29th Avenue. Farther south on the route, at Aldrich Avenue and Minnehaha Parkway, the curb between the Minnehaha Creek bike path and Aldrich Avenue (on the south leg of the intersection) will be altered to allow bicyclists to pass through.
Hiawatha LRT Trail Connection into Downtown Minneapolis
The Hiawatha LRT Trail is a busy bike path, running alongside the LRT tracks into downtown Minneapolis at 11th Street. Once at 11th, bicyclists had no good way to get into downtown, but a new path will open soon making that much easier.
The off-road path will continue across 11th Street and over to 3rd Avenue. Bike lanes will be added to 3rd (headed into downtown) and 4th (headed out of downtown) Avenues. No longer will the Valspar parking lot be the default.
Note: We will have more information on new routes and bike lanes in North Minneapolis (Emerson and Fremont Avenues) and South Minneapolis (1st & Blaisdell) in the next few weeks. In the meantime, you can always find more detailed information about new bike ways on the Bike Walk Twin Cities Projects page or through the City of Minneapolis Bicycle web site.
Friday, August 12th, 2011
When my friend first suggested bicycling nearly 100 miles to camp at a lake in southeast Minnesota, I laughed her off. At that point I was stuck in the mindset that my bike was for commuting-–it got me to and from work, to the grocery store, and to happy hour beers with friends. Plus, I had serious doubts about my 25-year-old Schwinn’s ability to survive a long trip! It makes some squeaking and creaking sounds even when commuting the 8 miles to my office.
But she was persistent and soon enough had recruited a small crew of people willing to train together and plan a trip. Within our group of five, our bicycling expertise varied from “I BIKE ALL THE TIME; HYDRATE OR DIE” experts to “sometimes I dust off my bike” novices. To prepare, we began bicycling together two months before the trip. Our training rides fluctuated between 20 miles and 100 miles.
Finally the day arrived and we set out early in the morning on August 5. The plan was to bike from Saint Paul to Northfield, break for lunch, and then bike to a campsite near Lake Madison. We were able to send most of our camping gear with a group of other friends that decided to drive to Lake Madison and meet us there.
All in all, the route was supposed to be 85 miles and mostly on trails. We even had a Burley Travoy trailer with us filled with snacks, water, and basic repair tools!
We arrived in Northfield (about 40 miles south of Saint Paul) with no major incidents and had a delicious lunch at Hogan brothers. Our car-bound folks joined us for food, refilled our water bottles, and sent us off with cheers! (side note: big thanks to the folks at Hogan Brothers Acoustic Cafe –turns out I left my wallet and phone there, but they kept them safe until I could pick them up on Sunday!)
After lunch we had our first bit of rough going. About two miles outside of Northfield, we had three flats and a lost trail. Eventually we made it to Faribault and had to enlist the folks at the Chamber of Commerce to help us locate the next trailhead.
The last bit of the ride took longer than we expected and the trail was rough, but we were all in good spirits and stopped a few times to enjoy the view of rolling corn fields and prairie.
Finally we arrived at camp –and, of course, immediately jumped into the lake! The trip took us just under 9 hours and we’d traveled 90-plus miles.
The rest of the weekend was spent running, swimming, hiking, and reflecting on the bike journey –and planning for our next trip. Through this trip, I reconnected with what makes bicycling great in my mind –the flexibility, the freedom, and the social aspects of riding with friends down country roads (and, yes, singing some John Denver as we pedaled). I learned great routes in and out of Minneapolis during training rides and am excited to continue exploring the area surrounding the Twin Cities.
See you on the road!
Thursday, August 11th, 2011
Paul Onderick and his wife enjoy biking around White Bear Lake for fun and activity, but when Paul tried to figure out how to include biking in his long daily commute to downtown Minneapolis, it became a hassle—at least until Nice Ride bicycles were installed. Here’s his story.
I’m a patent attorney from White Bear Lake, who wears a suit and tie everyday to work in downtown Minneapolis, and I use the Nice Ride system—frequently.
I’d been working in the IDS Tower for more than ten years, driving from White Bear Lake to downtown Minneapolis everyday. So, I was interested when Nice Ride installed the green bikes and solar-paneled stations in the spring of 2010. I approached one of their friendly street crew members, and found out I’d be able to participate in the bike share program soon.
Growing up in Northern Ohio, I rode bike all over, and frequently rode to work when I lived in Kentucky and Indiana. I tried to find ways to bike to downtown Minneapolis from my home—I missed the flexibility I had with a bike at my fingertips and dreaded the in-and-out parking hassles. I considered bringing and leaving an old bike downtown so I would be able to at least take short trips during lunch. After considering maintenance and storage issues, I decided it was too much hassle.
Then those green bikes hit the street and came to my rescue. In the spring of 2010, I became one of Nice Ride’s inaugural one-year subscribers and continue to take Nice Ride trips frequently. I’m able to quickly check out a bike with my Nice Ride key fob, jump on and take a short trip to get to a meeting or a nice lunch spot. My favorite places to take Nice Ride include Peavey Plaza, the Convention Center, Loring Park and St. Anthony Main.
I appreciate the Nice Ride system for providing the opportunity to get a bit of exercise and for the chance to get out of the office for a change of scenery. Nice Ride allows people to go different places and experience different things while getting there just a little faster. I also really appreciate the chain guard that protects my suit pants. I now have the freedom to get out and explore the city — all in a suit and tie!
Tuesday, August 9th, 2011
Walk into Clockwork Active Media Systems in northeast Minneapolis and you quickly realize this isn’t your garden-variety office environment.
Sounds pretty cool, right?
But, what’s not as obvious upon entering the building is the strong culture that has emerged at Clockwork the last couple years: A culture of biking.
With co-founder Chuck Hermes leading the way, nearly 20 Clockwork employees choose to make biking a part of their daily (or in some cases weekly) routine. Chuck bikes more than 40 miles a day to and from Stillwater.
“I’m a life-long cyclist—I’ve had pictures of bikes on my birthday cakes for years,” Chuck says. “I take the Gateway trail to work almost every day. Sure it takes more time, but it also means I’m a more productive employee. And, maybe more importantly, I’m happier and I’m a better husband and father as a result.”
How did they foster a culture of biking?
How did this culture grow? Organically, according to Chuck and his teammates. As a younger company, over the last several years, more people have banded together through biking to work. As a result, what was once a small sub-culture at Clockwork has come to define the firm’s brand in many ways. In fact, the League of American Cyclists recently recognized Clockwork as a 2011 Bicycle Friendly Business winner.
Clockwork employees participate in a number of biking-related activities, including:
* Bike Lunches. The team will frequently bike to lunch around town. With downtown only about two miles away, and a plethora of options available, there’s really no reason not to. But, the group has traveled as far as Sea Salt Eatery in south Minneapolis (nearly six miles away) for lunch.
* MS 150 ride. For three years each spring, Clockwork employees have been participating in the MS 150 ride from Duluth to Minneapolis. What started as a small group has now grown to 20-plus employees, partners and other “friends of Clockwork.” (The Clockwork team raised more than $23,000 this year for multiple sclerosis research)
* Active in the biking community. Clockwork hosted an ARTCRANK pre-party this year, which included a ride over to the ARTCRANK show later that evening. It’s an event that could quickly become an annual tradition.
* Bike profiles. Earlier this year, the Clockwork team started featuring its employees and their biking addictions right on the Clockwork blog. These “Biker Profiles” have become a way for Clockwork cyclists to show off one of their most prized possessions: their bikes. And, the photography is fantastic—thanks to Sharyn Morrow, a Clockwork employee who’s rather handy with a Nikon.
Culture starts with people
People create and sustain culture. In any organization. And Clockwork is definitely not short on talented, creative professionals. And people who absolutely love to bike. So it’s no wonder the bike culture continues to thrive at this Minneapolis-based interactive firm.
Just some of the people who make the Clockwork culture go include:
* Rett Martin. Clockwork’s creative director bikes 7 blocks with his two-and-a-half-year-old daughter to daycare every day. Rain or shine. Snow or sleet. With only one car in the household, it’s become a part of his daily routine—and he wouldn’t have it any other way. In fact, Rett now claims when he has to drive his daughter to daycare on those very few days, it’s a much bigger pain than biking.
* Micah Spieler. The newest Clockwork cyclist also has the shortest commute—just a few short blocks away. But, Micah is in it for the camaraderie and social aspects. He’s also a frequent rider on the bike lunches.
* Alex Wohlhueter. A QA tester at Clockwork, Alex’s commute cuts across the Seward neighborhood, through the University of Minnesota on his way to the northeast office. Like Rett, he rides with his young son from time to time, dropping him off at daycare just a few blocks away.
What about the business impact of biking?
This bike culture stuff is fine-and-dandy, but is there a real business case here? Or, is this just a matter of a bunch of employees who love to ride their bikes?
Chuck says there’s a significant business case to be made for bicycling —and it’s already paying off.
“We’ve already got two new clients that I would say are a direct result of our passion for biking,” Chuck says. “We’re currently working with Nice Ride and the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota—both could be directly attributable to our biking culture. In fact, I met Dorian Grilley, executive director of the Bicycle Alliance while riding down the Gateway one day—that led directly to us working together.”
But, the benefits don’t stop with new clients. Chuck says the bike culture also has significant recruiting and retention benefits. And, Clockwork employees back that up.
“When I tell people I bike to work they say ‘Oh that must be so nice,” Micah says. “It’s a huge perk for me. Biking wasn’t one of the reasons I came to work at Clockwork–but it’s definitely a reason I want to stay now.”
In an industry where top developers, programmers and creatives are increasingly at a premium, recruiting and retaining that top talent is absolutely critical to business success. Clockwork definitely sees the “business value” in fostering this culture of bicycling.
But, it’s the pure joy of riding a bike every day that really drives the culture at Clockwork. It almost seems like the “business case” is really just a nice added bonus for this firm. Nevertheless, Clockwork seems to be smack-dab in the middle of a fast-emerging trend of businesses that support biking.
Friday, August 5th, 2011
Doug Kiner of Mountain View, Calif., recently visited Minneapolis with a few colleagues for a business conference downtown. He and his colleagues all used Nice Ride bicycles as their main mode of transportation during their time here. On behalf of the group, Doug shares his story below.
I recently returned from a work trip to Minneapolis, and wanted to share how much my colleagues and I enjoyed Nice Ride – what a great system! We were staying at the Hyatt and the Hilton downtown during a conference that was held at the Minneapolis Convention Center. A waitress that served us one night started telling us about the Uptown area and that it might be a fun place to visit. One of my colleagues suggested that we use the Nice Ride bikes.
The next day, we went to the Downtown YMCA station, followed the instructions, rented the Nice Ride bikes, and took off down Hennepin Avenue. We rode down to the Lake Street and Humboldt Station, docked the bikes, and grabbed a cup of coffee at Caribou Coffee.
After coffee, we grabbed our bikes again and rode down to and around Lake Calhoun. While we were riding around the lake, we realized that we had a conference call that we had forgotten about, so we pulled over and used one of the picnic tables as our ad-hoc “conference room.” The photo depicts me and one of my colleagues deep in thought as we “conferenced” on my cell phone.
We then rode through the Uptown area, docked the bikes at the Lake Street and Lyndale station, and had lunch at Stella’s Fish Cafe. After lunch, we grabbed some bikes from the Lake and Humboldt station again, and rode back to our starting point at the YMCA Downtown Station.
We had a blast, and in large part due to Nice Ride! It was so convenient, well documented, and with the Nice Ride stations located so conveniently, it really made our excursion enjoyable and convenient (not to mention healthy). The next morning, since it was still within my 24-hour rental period, I grabbed another Nice Ride bike, and pedaled over to the downtown FedEx/Kinko’s location and took care of some business there.
I wish we had a system like Nice Ride in Silicon Valley!
Thursday, August 4th, 2011
Hundreds of guests walked or rode their bicycles to the 6th annual FLOW Northside Arts Crawl along West Broadway Avenue in north Minneapolis on Saturday, July 30. During a typically sultry late July day, the event proved to be a cool place to chill out, dine, listen to music and peruse art from a variety of local artists.
Monday, August 1st, 2011
My name is Amber Collett. I am a woman and an avid bicyclist. I work for Bike Walk Twin Cities, the organization that sponsors and manages this blog and site, dedicated to enhancing bicycling in the Twin Cities. I wanted to take a moment today to talk about an important topic: Bike safety for women.
Why is that important? Because, given recent reports, only 26 percent of all U.S. bicyclists are women. (Note: here in Minneapolis/St. Paul, that number is higher—between 31-45 percent; perhaps a result of the 70-plus miles of new bikeways and ample bike parking we have here in the Twin Cities!)
Still, these percentages of women bicyclists are low compared with other nations. For instance, in the Netherlands, 55 percent of all bicyclists are women; in Germany, it’s 49 percent.
So, only about one in four U.S. bicyclists are women. That number has many people, concerned—and in some cases, confused about why. But, it shouldn’t, because there is one key issue that keeps bubbling up time and again in reports about women bicycling: personal safety.
For women, safety is top of mind when it comes to bicycling. Is it safe to ride after dark? Should I be concerned about bicycling on busy city streets? What are the safest routes if I want to bike to work? These are all common questions. I know, because I’ve had them—and I continue to hear them from my family and friends.
But I’m here to tell you there are a handful of simple steps you can take to lessen or even eliminate these safety concerns:
Know how to take care of your bike
Take the “what if my bike breaks down” question out of play. Learn how to make the basic fixes to your bike—repairing a flat being the biggie. Locally, there are a number of options for learning basic bike mechanics. My favorite: The Sibley Bike Depot. They’ve set aside every Tuesday evening as Women Open Shop Night. That means you can drop in and learn from the (approachable) experts about how to take care of your bike.
Stay on the major thoroughfares
With bike boulevards like the Riverlake Greenway and bike lanes like the ones down Portland and Park Avenues in south Minneapolis, cars are used to seeing bikes in traffic. Plus, by staying on the main bikeways, you’ll lessen your chances of becoming isolated and putting yourself in positions where you’re the only one on the road.
Ride in groups—when possible
If you’re commuting, ride with a colleague. It not only makes for safer cycling, but it can also be a great way to connect with and get to know friends and co-workers. On the weekends, ride with a friend or a family member. I’ve even had friends visiting from out of town get short-term Nice Ride subscriptions. Again, what a great way to explore the city!
Pack the essentials
After you’ve learned a bit more about how to take care of your bike, consider investing in and carrying the bicycling essentials. That means a tire pump, a spare tube and, a patch kit. What if you forget these items? No worries. Those in south Minneapolis now have the first-ever bicycling vending machine. Named the Bike Fixtation, this “kiosk” (located in the Uptown Transit Station) carries a host of products cyclists may need in a pinch. What’s more, it also includes a bike stand—and more importantly for beginners and intermediate cyclists, an air pump. Free air! What could be better than free air for a bike commuter?
Visibility is a major concern when riding at night (or at dawn/dusk and in the rain). Before you head out, be sure to check your front and rear lights. The front light should be a constant white stream and the back light should be a blinking red light –you’ll also want a red rear reflector. Carry extra batteries or a spare headlamp in case yours breaks down. Also, seems obvious, but be sure to wear light or reflective clothing when riding. See and be seen!
Those are my thoughts. What tips do you have for women bicyclists staying safe on the road?
The following is a post written by Hilary Reeves, communications director, Bike Walk Twin Cities, that originally ran in the Downtown Journal. Now that Nice Ride bikes are tucked away for the winter, consider using the bus for your quick trips to lunch, meetings, doctor’s appointments, or shopping. Using Metro Transit is an ideal way
The following is a post written by Bri Whitcraft, Special Projects Coordinator, Bike Walk Twin Cities. It all started with a video as inspiration and a Tweet as declaration. (My mom thought it was a joke.) Map & Route From my home in South Minneapolis, I biked to St. Paul to borrow the trailer from
The following is a post written by Hilary Reeves, communications director, Bike Walk Twin Cities, that originally ran in the Southwest Journal. Practical, affordable and surprisingly rewarding, winter bicycling has become increasingly popular in Minneapolis, recently named one of the top five cities in the nation for winter bicycle commuting by MetaEfficient. That’s amazing when