Word on the Streets

Cycling on Eat Street... with kids

I don't have kid of my own, but I've been borrowing some on a regular basis for almost 10 years, now.  And, as the way I get around the city is by bike, they way WE get around the city is by bike (get 'em early!)  It's heavenly now that the 7- and 9-year-old are training-wheel-free and comfortable on their rides and predictable!

When the younger one, M., came for an overnight recently, she wanted to go to Isles Bun and Coffee for Puppy Dog Tails, followed by paddle-boating on Calhoun, topped off with dumplings at Evergreen on Eat Street.  That's a perfect kid-friendly bike ride from my 22nd and Dupont pad.  And the weather was oh-so-perfect.

Here's the route:

The Puppy Dog Tails tasted great.  The paddleboat was hard work and great for exploring.  Everything was lovely and the ride was easy, except the spinning contest on the Greenway.  She had an edge on me, as M's bike has no gears and I was on my fixed-gear.

Lovely, that is, until it was time to get from the Greenway exit at 29th and Nicollet  to Evergreen between 24th and 25th.

While M. is prepared for city riding (we were practicing turn signals at age 4), Nicollet is just a little too busy to ride two abreast, and I like to stay close to her for tutoring and as she can be a bit hard to see due to her size.  And it was dinner time, a.k.a. rush hour.  The direct route was out.

So, it was time for a test of the First Avenue Bike Lanes.  But... you have to get past that odd intersection at 29th to get over there.  Ugh.  Explain it, do it.  OK.  And then either brave a busy block on Nicollet or cut over on 28th.  Ugh.  28th.  Explain it, use the light, do it.  Ok.

The bike lane felt comfortable to both of us.  As you can see, we even pulled over for a quick photo.

But, then we had to get over one block to Nicollet proper.  Turning onto 24th was not so bad - there's a light and we went onto the sidewalk.  But south that last half block on Nicollet?

The street is packed.  There are buses.  Cars.  Trucks.  So, the sidewalk?  But we've been working on, "Sidewalks belong to pedestrians," for 7 years!  Sigh. 

Sidewalk it is.  As we wait for the "walk" signal, I explain our path and that I'll follow.  We arrive and the sidewalk is packed.  Trees in the middle of sidewalks.  Pedestrians (they belong.)  Street lights.  Benches.  Newspaper boxes squeezing the space.  No bike parking.

But she knows what she's doing.  She can handle her bike, and slowly maneuvers around the newspaper boxes and the cyclist locking his bike to the railing, the bikes locked to the tree growing in the middle of the sidewalk, and then yields to the pedestrian like she's been doing this for years.  (Maybe that "belongs to pedestrians" thing sank in?)*

It was worth it.  She devoured two orders of dumplings before we headed back home on an easier route, at least once we'd navigated the sidewalk, and made it home just in time to get in bed half an hour late.  (That's what overnights with not-moms are for, right?)

Where do you or don't you ride with kids?  Does anyone have suggestions of an alternative route for us?  Other than demanding we skip her restaurant choice and go to the Midtown Global Market, that is?

*Is anyone else noticing the large number of bikes locked up in this randomly taken-while-riding pic?  Cyclists are EVERYWHERE on Eat Street, despite the lack of lane and rack.

Brown's Creek Trail to Connect the Gateway Trail to Downtown Stillwater

After encouragement from Stillwater officials the Minnesota legislature has approved funding for the Browns Creek Trail that will connect the Gateway Trail to downtown Stillwater over the 6.5 mile former Minnesota Zepher line. The first article I've seen was published by the Stillwater Gazette. Brown's Creek Trail will, like the Gateway Trail, be a segment of the Willard Munger State Trail.

It looks like construction will start this year and be completed next year.

A bit more info can be had in the Have Fun Biking reprint of a Pioneer Press piece and in a StarTribune article.

You can see where the trail will go by going to Cyclopath.org and searching for "Brown's Creek".

I really enjoy riding to Stillwater and this project will make the trip so much easier with very few conflict points and a very gradual grade back up from the river. The folks in Stillwater seem excited too; there will be more tourists but not more cars on the very congested highway through downtown.

like magic

Sometimes when I come across the installation of new bicycle friendly features on the road, it feels like magic.  It is as if someone waved their magic wand over night while I was sleeping and made the world I dream of existing in, a reality ~ at least for a block, or two. :)

Last year it was the amazing transformation of the Franklin Avenue Bridge from car friendly to bicycle friendly.

This year, much to my surprise, two paths I travel frequently are all now shiny and new with bicycle friendly stripes.

I often head east on Como Avenue at the intersection of 18th Avenue SE and Como.  Last year I was pleasantly surprised by the bicycle lanes that started after the train tracks at 22nd Avenue SE and Como, and then the lanes that went in East of there, including up the hill to Saint Anthony Park.  But now, new bicycle lanes complete the continuous flow all the way down Como from when you turn right onto Como from 15th Avenue SE heading North from the UofM until I turn right on the UofM Transit Way, and beyond.  This was an exciting day.

As if that wasn't enough, on my way home, I circle back through the U and about fell off my bicycle seat at the sight of this.  This has always been a bit of a tricky transition from the bicycle lane to go straight on 15th Avenue at Rollins.  I have no illusion that a green stripe will make that all go away, but it certainly feels better and can only help.  Question is, do a lot of the drivers in this area know what a green stripe on the road means?  I've seen a lot of bad driving over here, some having to do with sobriety issues, some having to do with pure cluelessness, but I remain optimistic that a green stripe can only be good and I am excited about it.

I am on the board of the MBC, I am not naive enough to think this is all magic.  Things like this happen through the hard work of a lot of people.  But I prefer to believe in the magic, it makes my bicycle rides all that more fun.

What exciting changes have you seen where you ride this Summer?

© Copyright 2021 Our Streets Minneapolis. All rights reserved.