Word on the Streets

Open Streets - Read On for Volunteer Opportunities!

Starting in 2011, Minneapolis bicyclists, pedestrians, skaters, and wheelchair users will take over miles of streets to have the opportunity to explore and enjoy their neighborhoods without motorized traffic.  An Open Streets event (based on the Ciclovía from Bogotá, Colombia) will bring together families and neighbors to mingle, recreate, and shop in their communities in a safe, car-free environment.

San Francisco Sunday Streets 2009, Source: Paul Furman

Tell me more!

Open Streets take place on Sunday, typically from 10am – 2pm.


Open Streets are not races.  Participants can begin/stop/restart/change direction at any time.


Open Streets are free!


In addition to biking, walking and skating, there are programmed recreational activities along the streets including yoga, dance lessons, aerobics, games, and even musical performances, bike repair and bike safety classes.


Open Streets promotes:

  • Sustainable transportation choices, including walking, bicycling and transit.

  • Public health, bringing healthy physical activity to communities in need.

  • Local business, drawing foot traffic past the front doors.  Feedback from merchants along the San Francisco Sunday Streets route indicated a significant increase in business, from 25% to up to 300% from usual Sunday business.

  • Public space, helping residents see our streets as a places where we can all come together and take pride in our city.


Ciclovía events have been catching on in the United States.  Cities that are following Bogotá’s lead include:


Fargo-Moorhead http://www.facebook.com/pages/Streets-Alive/263885966939?v=info


Fargo-Moorhead's Streets Alive! from 2010.

Portland, Oregon http://www.portlandonline.com/transportation/

New York, New York http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/summerstreets/

San Francisco, California http://sundaystreetssf.com/

Chicago, Illinois http://www.activetrans.org/openstreets

Baltimore, Maryland http://baltimoresundaystreets.info/

Miami, Florida http://bikemiamiblog.wordpress.com/about/

Los Angeles, California http://www.ciclavia.org/

How can I get involved?


The Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition has been coordinating with the City to secure a permit for a proposed route along Lyndale Avenue South for June 12th, and we now need assistance to document approval from adjacent businesses and residences.  This will be a great way for new people to volunteer for the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition, and to be a part of bringing the first ever Open Streets to Minneapolis!  We need lots of volunteers, especially for the “door-knock outings.” I will have all of the necessary notification/documentation forms and detailed materials available on each date (see below); all people need to do is show up at the specified time!  Depending on how many people show up, we will split up, pair off, and tackle a couple of blocks.  It should be a lot of fun!  Please RSVP to [email protected]


  1. 2/19 (10am-1pm)Deliver “Dear Neighbor” letters. This will count as “notification” of the neighbors along the route.  Meet at CRC Coffee Bar (3346 Lyndale Avenue South) at 10am.

  2. 2/26 (9am-12pm)Door-knock outing. Collect as many approval signatures as possible.  Meet at CRC Coffee Bar at 9am.

  3. 3/3 (6pm-9pm) – Follow-up weekday door-knock outing. Fill in as many approval signature gaps as possible.  Meet at CRC Coffee Bar at 6pm.

Bike Sharing Fever- Catch It

Looks like Madison is getting a bike sharing program. Trek is teaming up with a couple partners to offer a program using the B Cycle that’s been used in Denver, Chicago and Hawaii. They plan a May start time with 35 bike stations and 350 cycles. Trek has guaranteed to sponsor it to the tune of $1M to make it work. 


Back when I lived in Madison in the ’80s there was an urban myth about another time when they started a bike sharing program with yellow bikes that the punks proceeded to throw in the lakes. Maybe the punks will be better behaved this time.


Weather vs. Safety

Joyous riding in San Diego!


I’m on a short trip to warm weather, and our crew rented bikes to get some extra independence and explore. I gotta say, while riding in a Minnesota February is possible, riding here in February reminded me of the joyousness of riding a bike.

Of course, I had to use it as an opportunity to explore what it feels like to bike in San Diego, too. We spent all day Sunday tooling from our hostel to La Jolla and back.

The take-away: If it’s a choice between San Diego infrastructure + San Diego February weather OR Minneapolis infrastructure + Minneapolis February, it’s a toss-up.

San Diego’s bike infrastructure appears to have begun much like Minneapolis’ – as park trails for pleasure riding, although here it’s all about going along the ocean rather than around lakes. That stuff is (generally) nice.


Bicycle promenade along the water.

As they’ve filled in gaps to get bikes from where people are to the ocean (and elsewhere), they’ve co-opted the shoulders of free-way-like limited access roads to add bike lanes. That stuff feels downright hostile! (This from a woman who rides Hennepin Avenue through downtown OR Uptown during rush hour without a second thought.)


Freeway-like road with bike lane on what appears to be a former shoulder.



The seaside isn’t all perfect – it was signed poorly enough that we found ourselves stranded at the end of a point rather than progressing along the beach to our destination. There were no “dead end” signs or “to [destination]” signs.

Fat, happy, ocean-side cats.

However, we did find a herd of dozens of happy, well-fed cats on the rocks. And, being on vacation, that was pretty nice. (If I’d been heading to a doctor appointment, I might have felt otherwise.)


Heading north or south from the hostel to beaches, the only routes included those former-shoulders of limited-access highways. There was no protection from the cars. Cars went REALLY fast.

The only way across the water... are we REALLY supposed to ride here? There's a sign...

One direction of this bridge included a sidewalk that felt like it was about three feet wide. Two people could not have walked side by side.

It was unclear what to do at the freeway-style entrances and exits.

Crossing two exit lanes to stay on the bike lane. Scary!

The lanes also began and ended without much warning, so at one point the shoulder lane turned into an off-street path (good idea!) but there were no signs that we saw, so we kept riding along the freeway until we saw someone riding the trail in the other direction. A couple examples.


The lane begins from nowhere... and later it disappears similarly abruptly.

Nope. Not fun. Even if it's warm and sunny.

I can’t quite make up my mind about the Midtown Greenway in February vs. these terrifying shoulder lanes in wonderfully sunny, dry, 70 degree days.

Minnesota 9 months a year, San Diego 3 months a year?

(Photo credits to fellow traveler/cyclist Ethan Cherin.)

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