Voices of the Downtown/Whittier Connection: Kirsten

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 Kirsten Hoaby, who lives along the corridor.

Photo of Kirsten Hoaby

What is your connection to the Downtown-to-Whittier corridor?

I live just right down the street [by Loring Park] and I bike all the time, and one of my favorite places to bike is on the [Midtown] Greenway. I take the Greenway to get to work in the summer, fall, and spring, so I bike on LaSalle to get to work and then I bike on 1st to get back from work, or almost any time I go for a bike ride. 

What is it like biking on this corridor?

On LaSalle, it's always felt like I don't really belong, or I'm always afraid that a car is going to come up and hit me. I haven't had any really scary encounters, or seen anything really bad, which I feel really lucky about. I'm always nervous until I get to the Greenway.  

Are there any stretches of road along LaSalle or 1st that seem particularly bad to you?

14th and LaSalle near Lakes & Legends would probably be the worst. It's rare that I bike on that section, but I know that that's always a scary place. As a pedestrian I'm always scared. And when I'm driving, I'm afraid that I'm going to hit somebody because I can't see anything. It's really wide, there's all the cars that are parked, and you can't really see. There's a lot of foot traffic because there's a lot of people going to Lakes and Legends. 

Do you ever see people biking on the sidewalk in your neighborhood?

I know my roommate will sometimes bike on the sidewalk, [though] I've told her that it's safer to be in the street and to be more visible. I think that she feels like it's safer on the sidewalk, and that she's afraid that she's going to get hit if she rides in the street. I think that a lot of people think that it's safer to ride on the sidewalk. 

What do you think would make the streets safer for your roommate?

Protected bike lanes with cement blocks, or even the bollards. I think it would be awesome if [the dividers] were greenery, like potted flowers to also make [the street] more beautiful. I think just having your own lane to feel like you belong on the street too, and that it's not only cars that belong on the street. 

What parts of the city feel really safe to bike to you?

The Greenway feels really safe because there are no cars there. And I always feel good biking on 26th & 28th. Having them be bollard-protected is really helpful. I really like on 26th, near Nicollet, how there's the driving lane, and then parked cars, and then the bike lane. 

What would you want protected bike lanes to look like on this corridor?

Just one driving lane for cars. I'd like a protected area for bikes, like on 26th near Nicollet, right next to the curb. Then cars can be parked. One lane of traffic, then another lane of parked cars. That would be great for cyclists. Another reason why I'd like to see just one travel lane for cars is to make it easier for pedestrians to cross too. I work in St. Paul on University where there are two lanes of traffic. When I take light rail, I have to cross both lanes of traffic, but not at a stoplight. Even when one car stops, I'm afraid to cross the street because the next car might not notice that I'm crossing. Just having one lane of traffic really does feel safer for pedestrians, and it's easier to cross the street safely. 

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.

If you'd like to be featured in an interview about this corridor, or if you'd like to help the Downtown Bikeways work group advocate for protected bike lanes, please contact us

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