On December 12th and 14th, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, together with the Walker Art Center, convened two CAC meetings and an open house on tthe reconstruction of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. This is an exciting project for quite a few reasons. Beyond the obvious one of improving and maintaining an important landmark in Minneapolis, there are bicycle-related aspects of this that are crucial to Minneapolis’ network of bikeways.
The most important element of this project is to make sure that we secure an off-street bikeway running along the west side of Lyndale Ave S between Dunwoody and Vineland, shown as a thick red line on the map below (the light green one is the Dunnwoody Blvd off-street trail which will be built as part of the Southwest LRT TSAAP; see pg. 3-10: http://www.swlrtcommunityworks.org/~/media/SW%20Corridor/Document%20Archive/investment-framework/ch-3-van-white.pdf).
A Minneapolis Sculpture Garden bikeway would bring people from the Van White LRT station, North Minneapolis, and the Cedar Lake Trail right to Loring Park and Downtown Minneapolis. It would only require about five feet of Park Board land, and given the extra foot and a half that will be added to this area, this is very doable.
Accessing the Sculpture Garden by bike will, of course, necessitate bicycle parking infrastructure. The shortfall in bike parking at the Garden was pointed out by a teacher who had brought over 100 students by bike to the Garden who they had to lay their bikes all over the park. The design team agreed that parking will need to be considered, but it’s imperative that we let them know how important it is to all future users of the park who will get there by bike. According to the designs shared with us, the west end of the Sculpture Garden where the Cowles Conservatory faces the parking lot will be turned into a welcome area. This is a crucial area for robust and plentiful bike parking. Others at the meeting mentioned the possibility of adding a Nice Ride station there too, which would be great. The north end of the Garden will also need good bike parking facilities, see the areas in red on the map below.
Still, off-street bike lanes remain the most important aspect of this project. We should applaud the designs for the Sculpture Garden, as they look really great - they include reverting part of the park to the native wetland habitat that it originally was before the parade grounds were built on top of it 125+ years ago. And our recent, significant victory for cyclists in the extension and separation of the Loring Bikeway as part of the Hennepin-Lyndale Bottleneck reconstruction means that the tide is turning and now’s the time to keep pushing for enhancements that will calm, green, and make safe this vital corridor for Minneapolis. Connecting the Sculpture Garden to the Green Line and North Minneapolis is paramount. Making sure that Minneapolis’ signature destinations are easy to visit by bike is equally crucial.
Please fill out this online survey to express your desires for a bike connection to Van White and beyond: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/BKM3XMR
The Hennepin-Lyndale corridor is an area of art, parks, urban density, and is a true confluence of diverse neighborhoods. It’s also an indispensable cycling corridor. I look forward to helping build on our recent successes by making the reconstructed Sculpture Garden another linchpin in our City’s ever-growing network of bikeways.
The next CAC is at 5:30pm at the Walker Art Center on January 20th. Hope to see you there!