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.

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