Archive for March, 2010

Burnsville- Not so Bike Friendly

Posted by Doug Shidell, March 31st , 2010.

Just spent an afternoon researching the northern parts of Savage and Burnsville. For me this is “ugly” research.  It’s necessary, but not that much fun. A comprehensive bike map has to be more than a collection of pretty rides. In some areas a good map can only strive to get cyclists through an ugly area as painlessly as possible. Burnsville and parts of Savage fall into that category.  They aren’t wastelands by any means. In fact, many neighborhoods and parks are quite nice. The challenge is getting around town by bike, and that often means wandering through a maze of twisting streets or hugging the curb on a feeder street while cars whiz by at 40 to 50 miles per hour. My goals were modest: Reduce the number of miles that cyclists have to ride on McColl Drive and Burnsville Parkway, two connectors with lots of traffic and not much in the way of alternate routes. A bike path through Neil Park cut out half a mile of riding on Burnsville Parkway and lead to Upton Ave. From there I went north and mapped out a couple of side streets that were straight and ran parallel to McColl Dr. The streets ran through pleasant suburban neighborhoods with few stop signs and low traffic.  I managed to eliminate another mile of McColl Dr. If you have revision 8.2 of the map, you will also find a decent alternate to McColl in Savage.  The part that will still be on the map is served by a bike path on the south side, but at the time I rode it, the path had remnant snow piles and plenty of sand and gravel.

Other research in the area: The Frontage road from the Bloomington/Ferry bike path to I-35w got better. Current versions of the Twin Cities Bike Map direct riders to a private gravel road that connects the Frontage Rd to Quentin Ave.  That is no longer necessary. The Frontage road now connects directly to Quentin and continues nearly to the interstate. It isn’t a destination route, but it does work as a reasonable east/west connector with low traffic. I’ve ridden this stretch a number of times over the years and find it enjoyable in a twisted sort of way. Maybe it’s just that being on a bike is fun, even when riding in marginal areas.

Filed under: Bikeverywhere News

Exploring West St. Paul

Posted by Doug Shidell, March 29th , 2010.

It’s spring and that means route research is back in full swing. I spent Sunday afternoon exploring West St. Paul and South St. Paul, two surprisingly good biking areas. The best scenic view is on the bluffs overlooking Downtown St. Paul from Prospect Blvd. Prospect is about equal distance south of downtown and west of the St. Paul Airport. To get there, cross the High Bridge (Smith Ave), then turn left at the top. It’s a little clunky making the turn, but you’ll find a curb cut in the middle of the median strip. Go east on Congress, then north on Bidwell to Prospect. With each major update to the map, I ask cover artist Mike Wohnoutka to illustrate a new iconic image of the Twin Cities for the cover. The view from Prospect Ave is my current favorite for the 2011 update.

From Prospect, there is a very pleasant, although somewhat complex, route along the bluffs to Kaposia Park. The route is hilly, but that has its advantages. The most interesting houses are often placed on hilltops and West St. Paul is no exception. You will see a number of large, very well maintained houses with colorful paint schemes. Some, such as the one with the cannons in front, are also a bit quirky.

If you have revision 8.2 of the map, you will see that the bike trail from Kaposia Park now connects to the So. St. Paul Regional Trail down by the Mississippi River (steep drop down the trail- and a long climb back up). The trail also goes west to Thompson Park and hooks up with Emerson Av, a new addition to the map.

Sunday’s ride will result in two new additions to the 2011 update. Caesar Chavez Rd/Concord St and Dodd Rd. Both have heavy traffic, but Caesar Chavez has bike lanes that run almost to the Kaposia Park Trail and Dodd has a wide shoulder. Both are escape routes that will take you quickly from near downtown to the Southwest and southeast. Dodd is especially fast, with very few stop signs and no stoplights. Chavez runs through an active Hispanic commercial area, then flows quickly to the Kaposia Park Trail and its connection to the South St. Paul Regional Trail.

Filed under: Bikeverywhere News

Wisconsin Bike Summit April 21-22

Posted by Doug Shidell, March 26th , 2010.

Registration is now open for the 2010 Wisconsin Bike Summit sponsored by the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin. This year the summit will feature special guest Andreas Rohl, head of the City of Copenhagen’s Bicycle Program. Copenhagen is considered by some to be the world’s most bicycle friendly city.The Wisconsin Bike Summit also offers multiple education sessions on a variety of subjects including encouraging our kids to walk and bike through Safe Routes to School programs, building Bicycle Friendly Communities and expanding Wisconsin’s off-road bicycle recreational opportunities. Click here for more details and to register.

Filed under: Bikeverywhere News

Nicollet Mall Open to Bicyclists

Posted by Doug Shidell, March 25th , 2010.

As of this Monday, March 22nd, Nicollet Mall has reopened for bicycling 24/7.  Since 1997 the Mall has been restricted to bicyclists Monday through Friday, 6am to 6pm.  As part of the City’s effort to transform downtown transportation, express buses are moving off Nicollet Mall to the new bus lanes on Marquette and 2nd Avenues.  This paves the way for elimination of the Nicollet Mall bicycle restriction.

Here’s what you should know about the new Nicollet Mall:

Bicycling is now allowed any time of the day, any day of the week

  • Local buses (such as the 10, 11, 17, 18, 25) and taxis will remain on the Mall
  • Ride on the street – it’s illegal to ride your bicycle on the Nicollet Mall sidewalk
  • Follow stoplights and stop at white, painted lines before the crosswalk
  • Turning onto and off of Nicollet Mall is allowed by bicyclists
  • Bike racks are located at Central Library, Downtown Auto Park, Xcel, the IDS Tower, Target, and the YWCA.  You can also attach your bicycle to sign posts on all streets that cross the Mall.
  • The new bus lanes on Marquette and 2nd Avenues are open to bicycling except during peak bus periods (Monday – Friday, 6am to 9am and 3pm to 7pm).  Also, an extra wide lane was constructed in the opposite direction of bus lanes along the curb, to make bicycling easier.
Filed under: Bikeverywhere News

Bikeverywhere Creates Route Maps for MLRA

Posted by Doug Shidell, March 21st , 2010.

Bikeverywhere has again been chosen by the Miller Lite Ride for the Arts to update their route maps.  This is the 31st year that the Ride for the Arts has been held. Funds are used by the  United Performing Arts Fund (UPAF) to support 34 performing arts groups throughout the greater Milwaukee area.  Many of those groups, from symphony orchestras to street jugglers, perform in the Summerfest Grounds, creating a festive atmosphere for riders as they finish their rides..  This year, for the first time, the ride starts and ends at Summerfest, making it easy for riders to get back to their cars after the ride.

Bikeverywhere has been creating maps for the MLRA since 2007.  Routes vary in length from as little as 4 miles to over 75 miles. The longer rides start at the Summerfest grounds and head north along the shore of Lake Michigan. Shorter rides start at the same place and head south along the Lakeshore.

Bikeverywhere will be on hand at the finish line. Stop by our booth to say hi.

Filed under: Bikeverywhere News

GreenlightRide offers $15,000 prize list

Posted by Doug Shidell, March 16th , 2010.

Need an excuse to ride more? GreenlightRide.com has issued the following challenge: In July, the Tour de France pros will cover 3600km or 2230 miles. If you started today, could you log that many kilometers (miles) by July 25? The Challenge is called Race to Paris Solo and it has a total prize list of $15,000.

That’s a lot of miles to cover, but the challenge offers incentives along the way. For each stage of the Tour that you complete before the Pros finish that stage, you are automatically entered into the prize drawing for that stage.  If you ride and enter 600 miles by July 8, for example, you will have completed the Prologue Time Trial and 5 stages of the Tour. That makes you eligible for up to 6 prize drawings. (Not all stages have a prize list.)

Instructions and rules are available on Greenlightride.com, but the basics are easy. Register on the site, then either join a team that is already in the challenge or create your own team and enter the team in the challenge.  There’s no cost and  anyone can enter, but the prizes will only be awarded to US citizens over 18 years of age.

Full disclosure here. I work part time for Quality Bicycle Products, host of the Greenlightride.com website. Quality is a wholesale bicycle parts distributor that sells to bicycle dealers throughout the country.  The goal of the site is to encourage more people to ride and to help the bike manufacturers who supply us with  parts to get their products in front of more people. I’m the web administrator and I have an interest in making the site more popular.

Check out the site. If you like what you see, sign up and start entering the miles you’ve ridden. All miles count whether bike commuting, recreation riding, errand running, touring. It doesn’t matter. It’s all about setting goals, riding more, and maybe wining some cool bike parts.

Filed under: Bikeverywhere News, Misc