Posts Tagged ‘winter biking downtown’
Thursday, December 8th, 2011
Neighborhood: North Loop, a.k.a., NoLo, the Sex World District
Occupation: Lead Copy Editor at Olson
When and why did you decide to start commuting by bike?
Summer 2009, Anno Domini, Modern Era. I’d considered bicycling to work before but didn’t feel the bikes I owned were suitable enough—or cool enough—for the ride to work. Then, I bought a Surly Steamroller, and the world opened up. I began commuting from St. Paul to Olson, an advertising agency in Loring Park. The ride was 8.5 miles each way, depending on the route I took. I’m not sure what my motivations were, exactly. I just wanted to try it. I wanted independence from the bus and the car I then shared. Bicycling has transformed my life: I now live in downtown Minneapolis, and that car belongs to a dealership again. I bike everywhere, year-round.
Tell us more about your bike.
I have a Surly Steamroller, fixed gear, black when I bought it but it’s now a scratched-up navy blue. It was cool enough to get me bicycling every day, and it felt immensely good to ride; it was sturdy and strong and fast. The Steamroller’s carried me through two winters and four rounds of 30 Days of Biking. I sometimes use Nice Ride instead, but now that Nice Ride is closed for the season, I’m pure Surly. I’ll miss those neon cruisers.
What is your commute to work like? What routes/lanes do you use?
My commute’s pretty pathetic now that I live downtown. My apartment building, the infamous Harmony Lofts, is across from Sex World and I need only bike to Loring Park. I can easily take Washington to Hennepin, then mash my way toward LP. Often I opt for a more byzantine route—longer but car-avoidant. My favorite route home takes me up 16th St. N, under 394, then past a warehouse where a horde of parking cop mini-SUVs are parked. From there, I hit Glenwood and take that until it transforms into 2nd, and home.
I love the Cedar Lake Trail. The bike lane on Hennepin is a blast to ride. Marquette is another good route from one end of downtown to another, especially when both lanes are shared.
How have the new downtown bike lanes affected your commute?
I pretty much hate riding on 1st Ave. N. No one knows how to park on it, and I see a car parked in the bike lane every day, sometimes buttressed by other cars that have followed its lead and parked there, too. I absolutely love the new bike lane on 3rd Street, and I look forward to when it connects with the Light Rail Trail–if that hasn’t happened already; I haven’t been down LRT-way in a little while (editor note: The Light Rail Trail prior to 11th is currently detoured due to Central Corridor construction. The detour will take you south on 11th to the new Light Rail Trail link; then turn right (toward the river) and turn onto the new path just after the Light Rail Trail guard rails). My favorite route of all time is still the LRT to the Greenway to West River Parkway. I can’t bike it without feeling a little romantic twinge, because that was my route before I moved downtown.
How does your bike commute change from summer to winter? Do you have tips for those considering biking downtown in the winter?
It won’t change at all. The switch to winter doesn’t deter me. In fact, I love it. I love the extra attention it requires and the self-sufficiency of being properly layered and speedily moving around a winter landscape, powered by your own pedaling, as everyone else trudges. Tips? Tip 1: Experiment with layering to see what keeps you warm. Winter bicycling is not cold if you do it properly. It’s a joy. Tip 2: Don’t be scared of it; it’s not an extreme sport. Any able cyclist can bike in the winter, too!
What advice do you have for people who are considering bike commuting for the first time?
Just do it. Don’t worry about whether your bike is cool. Don’t worry about spandexed people sneering at you because you’re not doing it right, whatever that means. Buy good lights for your bike, back and front. Wear a helmet. Follow the law. Don’t ride against traffic, ride with it. Notify pedestrians on hybrid paths (“ON YOUR LEFT!”) and do not ride on the sidewalk. Get out there and do it is the best tip I know.
Tags: #30daysofbiking, 30 days of biking, biking downtown, downtown bike lanes, Patrick Stephenson, winter bicycling, winter biking, winter biking downtown, winter biking in Minneapolis
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