With all of the care and attention it receives, the popular Midtown Greenway deserves its status as one of Minneapolis’ most beloved bikeways.
Yet last fall, several new bike routes opened around the Twin Cities, garnering interest and attention from bicycling veterans and newcomers alike. Many of these new routes are here because of a federally funded pilot program (known as Bike Walk Twin Cities, in fact) to make local bicycling more accessible, safer and easier for all riders. If you’ve not yet sampled the following new bikeways, take a spin sometime!
Bryant Avenue South bicycle boulevard
If you live in South Minneapolis and work downtown (or vice versa), this new, 4.5-mile-long, north-south route runs from 58th Street to Loring Park. This increasingly popular bikeway parallels Hennepin Avenue to the west, and Lyndale Avenue South to the east, making it easy to commute without the considerable vehicle traffic of these other avenues. It’s also easy to cut over from Bryant to the many shops and eateries along Lyndale and Hennepin.
Along the way, the Bryant Avenue Boulevard crosses three major east-west bicycle routes: the Minnehaha Parkway bicycle trail (part of the Grand Rounds), the new RiverLake Greenway (at 40th Street) and of course, the Midtown Greenway (at 29th Street).
Notable “bicycle boulevard” features along the route include bicycle symbols embedded into the pavement and intervals of green paint indicating that cyclists can legally ride in the center of the travel lane (out of the “door zone” of parked cars), and that motorists should exercise caution and pass bikes as they would any other vehicle. The route also includes speed bumps to slow traffic, curb bump-outs to make it safer and easier for pedestrians to cross the street, and a median on Franklin Avenue for easier road crossing.
Bike lanes on 1st and Blaisdell avenues
South Minneapolis also has new designated bike lanes along 1st and Blaisdell avenues (parallel one-way streets on either side of Nicollet Ave.), providing additional routes between downtown and the residential neighborhoods of south Minneapolis. As with the Bryant Avenue route, both 1st and Blaisdell avenues intersect with the Midtown Greenway and RiverLake Greenway, providing convenient east/west points of access.
Special features along these routes to enhance bicyclist safety include buffered bike lanes along parts of 1st Avenue. These are zones marked with white paint and hash marks that physically separate bicyclists from motorists. Additionally, at two major intersections — at 1st Avenue and 28th Street; and at Blaisdell Avenue and Lake Street — you’ll note green-striped “conflict zones,” alerting motorists and bicyclists where motor vehicles cross over the bike lane to enter a right-turn lane.
New downtown bicycle routes
The Hiawatha LRT trail has been a popular option for bicycle commuters coming into downtown Minneapolis. A new trail extension near the Metrodome (adjacent to the Valspar parking lot) now makes it easier to connect to the new westbound bike lane on 3rd Street South and the existing eastbound bike lane on 4th Street South. There also is now a flashing signal for pedestrians to more easily cross 3rd Street.
On the south side of downtown, near the Minneapolis Convention Center, you’ll find new bike lanes on 15th and 16th streets, as well as advisory bike lanes on 14th Street. These new bikeways provide a by-pass around downtown’s busier roads, connecting to Loring Park to existing bike lanes on 11th Avenue South, and on to the Hiawatha LRT Trail or routes along the Mississippi River.
Northeast Minneapolis bike routes
If you’re looking for a good bike route into Northeast, the new 5th Street bicycle boulevard runs from Dinkytown over a bike/pedestrian bridge over I-35W through the Nordeast business district (near Lunds, Whitey’s and Red Stag) and continues to 26th Ave N.E., with easy access to the Grand Rounds bicycle trail. By taking this route, you can avoid the busyness of University Ave.
Additionally, the new 22nd Avenue Bicycle Boulevard extends west to east, from Marshall Street N.E. to New Brighton Boulevard, with connections to the Quarry Shopping Center and Minneapolis Regional Trail. The City of Minneapolis also recently put in a new bike path on the west side of Northeast, adjacent to 18th Avenue N.E.
The 5th Street N.E. Bicycle Boulevard has some “new to Minnesota” features, including our first dedicated bicycle traffic signal at Broadway Ave., and a bicycle-detection stop light at the intersection of 5th Street with Hennepin and Central avenues.
North Minneapolis bike lane enhancements
When North Minneapolis is your origin or destination, new bike lanes on Emerson and Fremont Aves. N. (parallel one-way streets) run north/south between Plymouth Avenue and 33rd Avenue North (just north of Lowry Ave.). These lanes connect into downtown Minneapolis via bike lanes on 7th Street North.
Here, new safety features include a bicycle buffer zone along some portions of Emerson and Fremont Aves., as well as a bicycle-detection stop light at the key intersection of Emerson and Lowry.
Hilary Reeves is communications director for Bike Walk Twin Cities (bikewalktwincities.org).