There was a big turn out for a group ride on Saturday, June 23, to showcase new bike lanes along Como Avenue in Saint Paul and Minneapolis. The Como Ave. lanes provide a very good east-west route from the University of Minnesota campus to downtown Saint Paul (see Google map below for the exact route).
The ride is one of two meant to make cyclists familiar with how easy it is to get to popular destinations on a bike. This ride focused on the western end of Como Ave. The next ride, heading east to the Hmongtown Marketplace, will be on Saturday, August 4. Thanks to Mary Heer-Forsberg and Emma Pachuta from St. Paul Smart Trips for organizing the ride, and to Jason Tanzman, of Cycles for Change bike shop, who lead the ride.
Here’s a photo tour of the route and some of the stories gathered along the way. For one Saint Paul native, the ride provided a pleasurable first-time experience (read on to find out what and where). For others, it was a way to discover a new route across the cities, riding with friends old and new.
Gathering at Saint Anthony Park
Jason Tanzman, a League Certified Instructor of bicycle safety, gave the group some tips about how to check bikes before a ride—the ABC Quick Check—and to be safe on the ride to the Mill City Farmer’s Market, which is along the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, next to the Guthrie Theater.
About 30 riders spooled out from the St. Anthony Park Library and headed west on Como Ave. In addition to the Library, the St. Anthony Park commercial district features several shops (including PeaPods and Micawber’s Bookstore), restaurants (Mufalettas and Colossal Cafe), and a Dunn Brothers Coffee Shop and Panera. The area of was full of bikes on a Saturday morning.
Everybody enjoyed riding down the hill next to the Luther Seminary, to the light at Highway 280, next to HealthPartners. There is a mid-block crosswalk at HealthPartners, a feature to make Como Ave. safer for people walking added with the same Bike Walk Twin Cities funding that brought the new bike lanes to this east-west route across the Cities.
West of Highway 280, Como Ave. is a nice, flat ride, passing by Weekes Lumber, a Nice Ride station at SE 29th Ave, and Manning’s Cafe & Bar, a popular hangout for burgers and sports on TV since 1932.
Turning on SE 15th Ave
The bike ride turned left onto 15th. There are several businesses at 15th and Como, including a hardware store, shops, restaurants, and Muddsuckers Coffee. There’s a Nice Ride station next to Van Cleve Park. The University of Minnesota intramural fields are also along 15th.
Turning on SE 5th Street Bicycle Boulevard at Dinkytown
Everybody on the group ride got to experience one of the unique bicycling lanes in the Twin Cities: the “contraflow” bike lane along a One-Way section of SE 5th Street. In some European cities, it is legal for bikes to travel both ways on all one-way streets. But here in the Twin Cities, we have this one street, with the contraflow bike lane clearly marked with an orange stripe. Next up was the bike/ped bridge over 35W.
Over the Stone Arch Bridge
And then we took a left on SE 6th Avenue and headed down to the Stone Arch Bridge over the Mississippi River. There we were literally stopped by the huge crowds participating in the Heart Beat 5000 run/walk sponsored by Children’s Hospitals of Minnesota. We walked our bikes through the throngs until we could pedal freely again.
As we walked over the bridge, one of the men on the ride, who grew up and lives in Saint Paul, said it was his first time on the Stone Arch Bridge. It was marvelous to hear that the bike ride included a cross-city first for him!
It was a quick few blocks from the Stone Arch Bridge (left on West River Pkwy, right on Portland, left on S 2nd Street) past the Mill City Museum to the organic and local Mill City Farmer’s Market.
Once at the Market, we discovered that one of our group managed to fit in a stop at a yard sale along the way, scoring a London Underground clock. There were bikes and riders of all description on the ride. Mark your calendar for August 4 and join the next one.