Voices of the Downtown/Whittier Connection: James

The Downtown Bikeways work group has been talking to people that live, work, go to school, eat, or recreate along the corridor that connects downtown with Loring Heights, Stevens Square, Whittier, and neighborhoods to the south. One person that we spoke with is James Clark, who bikes along the corridor.

Photo of James Clark

What has your experience been on the Whittier-to-Downtown corridor?

We used to commute [by bike] from South Minneapolis. I would put the kids in the Burley, ride the Greenway, and then come up Nicollet rather than taking 1st, which is narrow, congested, darker, and we aren't as visible. We'd take Nicollet [because] it feels safer than riding on 1st. That was our school commute for two years. We live in Loring Park now. 

What is it like to bike on these streets?

For me, it's just everyday. I can see where it's very intimidating for anybody that's just getting on to a bicycle. I've sold bikes to people who work at Zeus Jones that don't find good routes. They'll ride on Blaisdell, but you only have a bike lane for a portion of that. Or it's a bike lane that's in traffic, and that can be very intimidating to somebody that's just starting out because for someone that's riding from downtown that's a lot of dense traffic, crowded lanes, a lot of parking, and so they find it difficult to ride in to work.  

Besides commuting to school, what else does your family like to do in this area?

We go over to Lake of the Isles, go to lunch at The Wedge Table or go to the MIA. There are a lot of things that are family-oriented, but aren't family-accessible by bicycle.

You have a seven year-old. Would you feel comfortable riding with him on Nicollet as it is now?

Not on his own. A protected bike lane, I'd be perfectly fine with. Or elevated bike lanes, I'm totally fine with. 

What do you think would make these streets safer for you and your family?

I can't really see it being more bike friendly to families without protected bike lanes.

What has your experience been on the newly striped bike lanes on LaSalle?

I think that it does make drivers more aware, but with the new snow, it hasn't done much. Plus paint isn't a true barrier from traffic, it's a false sense of security.

If the city did put in protected bike lanes in this corridor, do you have thoughts on what you'd like them to look like?

Raised curb would be great, and I would like to see no delivery trucks parked in them. [Even] where Blaisdell does have protected bike lanes now, there are delivery trucks or Uber drivers waiting in the protected bike lane, and that creates animosity between the driver and the cyclist.

Is there one thing that you'd say to your Council Member about these streets?

It would be very helpful for families, and would encourage people to ride to and from work more, if there were protected bike lanes. Blaisdell has protected bike lanes on it already, why don't we extend them to Grant? Why don't we create a route that comes off the Loring Greenway?

If you would like to share your support for a safe, protected bikeway that will connect downtown with Loring Heights, Stevens Square, Whittier, and neighborhoods to the south, please fill out this digital postcard.

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