Archive for July, 2012
Tuesday, July 31st, 2012
Bike Walk Move has featured a handful of routes in the past few months (including the bike lanes along Blaisdell and 1st Avenues, the bicycle boulevards along 5th St. and 22nd Ave. in NE Minneapolis and the bicycle lanes on Emerson and Freemont Avenues in North Minneapolis).
Today, let’s take a look at the bicycle lanes along Como Avenue, which stretches across both Minneapolis and Saint Paul (if you want to get an up-close-and-personal look at these new bike lanes, tag along on the August 4 group ride from the Lake Como Pavilion to Hmongtown Market hosted by St Paul Smart-Trips and Bike Walk Twin Cities).
The Como Avenue route is a good east-west route that connects Minneapolis and Saint Paul, with many iconic Twin Cities landmarks along the way. Starting in Minneapolis at 10th Avenue (parallel to I-35 West) and ending at Rice St. in Saint Paul, the Como Avenue route is 7 miles long.
The Minneapolis portion of Como Avenue is just a few blocks north of Dinkytown and the University of Minnesota campus – access it via 15th Avenue SE (Dinkytown) or 10th Avenue SE (University of Minnesota campus) . Heading southeast into Saint Paul, Como Avenue goes through the St. Anthony Park neighborhood, then cuts east through the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. Next, the route turns into Horton Avenue, winding through scenic Como Park and around the southern edge of Lake Como. After the lake, Horton Avenue turns into Como Avenue again, which heads southeast all the way to the Capitol.
- Bicycle lanes: Much of the Como Avenue route consists of bicycle lanes, which are on-street lanes specifically for bicycle traffic. They’re striped with solid white lines and a bicycle symbol on each block. At intersections, the lines become dotted lines, meaning that bicyclists and motorists share that space. At some locations, instead of bike lanes, there are sharrows and “bikes may use full lane” signs.
- More bike parking. Not only new bike lanes but also more places to lock your bike, including at bus stops, apartment buildings, eateries, and in business areas, such as at Como and 15th, Como and Carter Avenues, and Como and Doswell Avenues.
- Bicycle signage and safer crosswalks: Bicycle signs along the route help with way-finding by noting nearby destinations (e.g., the University of Minnesota campus), routes (such as the Northeast Diagonal Trail) and connections (to the 10th Avenue Bridge and East River Parkway). New crosswalks, many with curb bump outs (at Scudder and east of Eustis), and countdown timers, also were added as part of the project. Check out the mid-block crosswalk at Health Partners, just east of Highway 280.
- Nice Ride stations: There are three Nice Ride stations right along Como Avenue (as well as nearby stations on the University of Minnesota St. Paul Campus, in downtown St. Paul, and near the Capitol):
- 15th Ave. SE and Como Ave. SE
- Como Ave. SE and 29th Ave. SE
- Carter Ave. and Como Ave.
- 10th Ave SE into the West Bank of University of Minnesota Minneapolis Campus – now also featuring bike lanes after a 4-3 lane conversion road diet)
- 15th Ave. – into the East Bank University of Minnesota Minneapolis Campus
- 18th Ave. North to Stinson Ave.
- University of Minnesota Transitway at the Minnesota State Fair Grounds
- Lexington Parkway – south to Summit/Grant Avenues or north (via trails around Lake Como)
- Victoria Street and Wheelock Pkwy (on the east side of Lake Como)
- Minnehaha Avenue & Pierce Butler Route
Landmarks and notable businesses along the route
In addition to being a great link between Minneapolis and Saint Paul, the bicycle lanes along Como Avenue are also chockfull of restaurants and attractions. Here are a few:
- Manning’s Restaurant (Como Ave. and 22nd Ave. SE)
- Luther Seminary (Como Ave. between Eustis St. and W. Luther Place)
- Colossal Café (Como Ave. and Doswell Ave.)
- Muffuletta (Como Ave. and Carter Ave.)
- Micawbers Bookstore (on Carter, just west of Como)
- Saint Anthony Park Library (Como Ave. and Carter Ave.)
- Minnesota State Fairgrounds
- Nelson Cheese & Deli (Como Ave. and Snelling Ave.)
- Como Park (trails connect to the zoo, conservatory, and amusement park)
For more information on the Como Avenue route, check out our post about a community ride on the western part of the route in June.
Tuesday, July 24th, 2012
The following post was written by Hilary Reeves, communications director, Bike Walk Twin Cities, for the Southwest Journal.
When you hear the word “bicycling,” do you think of a weekend ride around the lakes or about grabbing your bike to go meet friends for breakfast or to make a run for a few things at the store? An increasing number of local residents are using their bikes for getting around, a.k.a., transportation, but for some, it’s still a leap to think of the bike you ride on weekends as the bike you could ride more often: to work, running errands or simply to get from point A to B.
Around the nation, there are more people using their bikes to commute. A 2011 survey of 55 major U.S. cities found that on average, the number of regular bicycle commuters increased by 70 percent between 2000 and 2009, according to The Atlantic Cites, a blog that explores ideas and issues facing cities and neighborhoods. The survey, which was based on data from the 2000 U.S. Census and the 2005-2009 American Community Survey, found that bike commuting in Minneapolis increased by 58 percent during this time period.
Even with this increase, the city of Minneapolis would like to see more people choosing to bike to work. Minneapolis leads all Midwestern cities in bike commuting, and is among the top U.S. cities for bike commuting, but is still well under Portland’s nation-leading 6 percent. The city has set a goal of 7 percent of all commuters biking to work by 2014, which is double the current estimate of 3.5 percent bike commuters in the city.
Minneapolis’ infrastructure is prepared to handle more bike commuters, thanks to an infusion of new bike routes that have opened in the last few years. If you’re wondering where this surge came from, a lot is due to $25 million of federal transportation funds. Minneapolis and three other communities (Sheboygan, Wis., Columbia, Mo., and Marin County, Calif.) received these funds to see how far they could encourage bicycling and walking as ways of getting around.
According to the city’s annual report on bicycling, there are now 167 miles of bikeways on Minneapolis streets – a 75 percent increase just from 2010. The city now has its first Bicycle Master Plan, and a full-time bicycle and pedestrian coordinator to lead its efforts.
But the commute trip is only one kind of journey that could be made by bike. While the average work commute (13 miles one-way in the 7-county metro) is too far for some people to bike, about 40 percent of all the trips people make are within 3 miles. Bicycling 3 miles takes about 15 minutes and often can be quicker than going by car, and is frequently loads more fun.
Minneapolis residents such as Masami Kawazato and Aaron Merrill, who live in south Minneapolis, use their bikes to get to work downtown and to run errands. They have not owned a car since 2003. Bicycling has become ingrained into their lives.
“Part of my motivation to bike is my background,” Kawazato explains. “I’m originally from Japan and lived there from birth through 6 years old and then again during high school. There, it’s common to bike commute and run errands like grocery shopping.”
The couple regularly encourages others to try bike commuting, as they do. “Try it at least once,” Kawazato says. “It doesn’t have to be every day right away. You could take the bike every Thursday to start or get a Nice Ride bike when it’s a nice day. For any women interested in biking but concerned about wardrobe, I’ve found that you can bike in just about any kind of clothing.”
If you’re interested in starting to use your bike for commuting or running errands, here are six tips to keep in mind:
1-Make bike commuting a routine. As Kawazato suggests, start by bike commuting once a week, on a specific day. Once you get accustomed to it, you can try adding additional days to your routine.
2-Add variety to your routes. Although Minneapolis has many miles of well-marked bikeways, don’t feel confined to taking the same route each day. Mix it up a bit, explore new routes, and learn new things about the city.
3. Be safe. Without question, always wear a helmet, and be sure you have at least a working white light on the front of your light and a reflector or blinking red light (better) on the back of your bike. Be predictable in traffic, obey traffic laws, and always signal your turns. By doing so, you aid not only yourself, but also all other bicyclists.
4. Security. Invest in a high-quality U-shaped lock to secure your bike to a bike rack, or sign post, and definitely not to fences, parking meters, street signals, or trees..
5. Attire. Wear comfortable clothing while bicycling, and invest in quality raingear if you bike commute regularly. If your job requires more formal attire, take it with you for changing, or keep a set of work clothing at work.
6. Seek companions. Bike commuting is safer and more fun when you can ride with others. Encourage friends or co-workers to regularly ride with you. Knowing you are riding with others will also be an incentive to stick with your commuting.
If you would like to be part of a national effort that encourages people to bike for transportation and recreation, go to www.nationalbikechallenge.org. It runs through Aug. 31.
Tuesday, July 10th, 2012
John Akre made up his mind as a young teenager that he didn’t want to drive. He’s kept that promise to himself ever since. Now 49 years old, John has never had a driver’s license and rides his bicycle or walks for almost every trip he makes. Below, John shares how he’s kept his dedication to bicycling and walking strong over the years.
Neighborhood: Northeast Minneapolis, Sheridan neighborhood
Occupation: Youth Media Programs Director at the Minneapolis Television Network
What made you decide at such a young age not to drive?
I remember it mostly as the threat that cars posed to safety when I was walking around or on my bike when I was young. When I was around 12 or 13 or so I decided that I didn’t want to be driving one of those threatening cars.
Has your dedication to not driving a car affected where you choose to live?
I live in the Sheridan Neighborhood of Northeast Minneapolis. When I bought my house 18 years ago I wanted to be in a pedestrian/bike/transit-friendly neighborhood close to downtown, where groceries were available nearby. The neighborhood has changed a lot over the years, and is even more pedestrian friendly now.
In the past, you’ve taped events around town for your job. Do you have any special way of carrying and protecting your equipment from the elements?
I actually have gone all over the city of Minneapolis over the last 20 years to tape neighborhood events for the Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP). The NRP doesn’t exist anymore so I don’t do that now. I have always used small video cameras and equipment that I could carry in a backpack or my paniers. On rainy days or in the worst parts of the winter, I rode the bus with the equipment.
What’s your favorite route for commuting?
My workplace is about a mile and a half from my home so I either bike or walk there all year round. I have lately been excited to use the 5th St. Bicycle Boulevard as my route into work. I also sometimes use the Nice Ride bikes, if I might be riding the bus for something after work.
What advice do you have for people who are trying to take more short trips by foot or bike?
Walking and bicycling are the only way to go for short trips. You get a chance to look carefully at your neighborhood and see all the interesting little things that people have done to their houses, or watch the birds and squirrels, see dogs that people are walking, say hi to people as they walk or bike by. Walking and bicycling are great stress relievers. My advice is to just do it. I have paniers on my bike for holding groceries, and the best advice is to make lots of smaller trips, like a couple times a week on the way home from work. Also, when you support the small businesses within walking distance of your home it creates an atmosphere where more small business can thrive. If you aren’t going on a trip where you are getting something bigger than you can comfortably carry, or if you are going alone, you should consider leaving the car behind.
What are the exceptions to your biking/walking lifestyle?
I take the bus often and it is a great accompaniment to bicycling and walking. I ride in cars too, and that’s a great way to do big grocery and other shopping trips. Also, trips to suburbs are generally hard if not nearly impossible to do without a car. But I have also never been the only one in a moving car, and car trips are always much more fun and efficient if you do them with at least one other person (editor’s note: HourCar is a great option for those who don’t own a car, but still want to get around town).
Tags: bicycling in Northeast Minneapolis, bike routes Minneapolis, bike routes Northeast Minneapolis, biking in Northeast Minneapolis, John Akre, routes in Northeast Minneapolis
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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