Four reasons why I ride my bike on Lyndale Avenue

After running some errands in St. Louis Park this morning, I returned to Minneapolis to have an omelette and coffee at one of my favorite spots, a Lyn-Lake eatery that shall remain unnamed. After I finished my meal, I had a sour taste in my mouth. The food was great, but I was disturbed by a bit of anti-cyclist chatter I overheard between the servers:

"I was driving down Lyndale and I was stuck behind these bikers."

"Isn't there a bike road on Bryant, just like a block away?"

"Yeah, but they still ride their bikes on Lyndale sometimes."

"Why do they do that?"

"I guess they just wanna be rebels."


I wasn't in the mood to interrupt the conversation on which I'd been eavesdropping, but I'd like to correct some of the pernicious assumptions they made. So here are four points I'd like the "get bikes off Lyndale!" crowd to consider.

  1. People on bikes have a legal right to ride on Lyndale. It's rebellious to run red lights. It's rebellious to ride against traffic. It's rebellious to ride on the sidewalk in a commercial district. There's nothing rebellious about riding a bike in the street.
  2. There's nothing to do on Bryant. Between Franklin and Lake Street, I don't see a single business on Bryant. There's a half-block park that pales in comparison to the nearby Kenwood and Loring parks, to say nothing of the lakes. South of Lake Street, there's a bigger park and a few coffee shops, but Bryant is still not a destination street.
  3. There's lots to do on Lyndale. I get groceries from the Wedge at 22nd Street. I get pizza from Leaning Tower at 24th Street. I pick up documents from Sir Speedy on the 2500 block. Lyndale and 26th is where I have meetings, Lyndale and 27th is where I get my hair cut, and Lyndale and 28th is where I tune up my motorcycle (just kidding — but I could if I had one). Art Materials and Buffalo Exchange, both on the 2700 block, respectively serve my writing and clothing needs. We've had a few happy hour events at Tiger Sushi by the Greenway. The VFW on the 2900 block serves me Grain Belts and graciously tolerates my singing and dancing. 
  4. For short trips, going two blocks out of my way is annoying and dangerous. Say I wanted to go from Moxie to Sir Speedy to Common Roots to the VFW. If I just stayed on Lyndale, the whole trip is simple and totals 0.7 miles. If I avoided Lyndale as much as possible, the trip would more than double to 1.5 miles. This longer, more complicated route also takes me on 26th Street, a corridor with one of the highest cyclist-motorist crash rates in the city (PDF, page 24). It's safer and easier to go up and down Lyndale.

I was troubled to hear servers at a (putatively) bike-friendly establishment imply that streets are for cars, and that bikes just get in the way. Streets are for everyone! Bryant is a good avenue if you're commuting between Loring Park and the Midtown Greenway, but for short trips, riding on Lyndale is convenient, and you're well within your rights to do so.

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