Archive for March, 2012

Upgrading the Cedar Lake Trail

Posted by Doug Shidell, March 27th , 2012.

The attached photo shows the underside of I-394 where it crosses over the trail. All of that white paint is part of an anti-graffiti campaign. It’s expensive, not very attractive and requires constant vigilance. A better solution, wall art, works throughout the city. Wall art turns an unattractive building wall into public art. It allows an artist or group of artists to express themselves and it discourages graffiti. Let’s turn this dark, somewhat intimidating stretch of the Cedar Lake Trail into a public art gallery. With a palette this large, my guess is that we would have stiff competition among local artists for the right to create a public art display.

Filed under: Bikeverywhere News

Updated North Star Download

Posted by Doug Shidell, March 26th , 2012.

North Star, You, Your Bike has been updated. The new file has an insert map for Monticello and new labeling for some of the highways on the North Overview Map. Although the routes haven’t changed, the updated map is easier to follow because of the added detail through Monticello and the additional highway numbering in several locations along the routes to Lake Maria State Park and Elk River.

With the arrival of spring and warmer weather, take advantage of the extra range that the North Star Commuter Rail offers for you and your bike. Families will especially enjoy taking the kids on the train to Anoka, then crossing a single street next to the station to hop on the Rum River Trail. From there you will enjoy car free riding along the banks of the Rum River. At the north end of the trail you can cross the river to Rivers Bend Park for a picnic before returning to the station. You will have over 5 hours to complete the six mile round trip, so pack lunch and fishing poles for a relaxing day.

Filed under: Bikeverywhere News

Mozaic Bridge

Posted by Doug Shidell, March 20th , 2012.

Sometimes a new piece of public infrastructure fits so neatly into a neighborhood that it appears to have been there forever. That’s what I felt when I checked out the new Mozaic Bridge and bike ramp near Hennepin Ave in Uptown. I first learned about the bridge when Andrew Dahl of the Ackerberg Group asked me to add it to the Twin Cities Bike Map.

During my brief visit I saw dozens of bike riders using the ramp and the bridge. The two amenities had become so integral to the neighborhood that I had to ask Andrew just how long they had been open. I questioned whether I had simply missed seeing them over the last year. Andrew assured me that the bridge is new and his colleague verified that it opened in January.

The bridge creates a nondescript, perfectly ordinary pedestrian crossing. Riders and pedestrians crossed over it and under it without comment. It didn’t draw attention to itself or inspire grand thoughts. The beauty of the bridge was in its pure functionality: You could get from one side of the Greenway to the other without dealing with the traffic or transit stations on Hennepin Ave, and the ramp connected a medium density neighborhood with the highly trafficked trail. In light of the recent failure of the Martin Sabo Bridge, further east on the Greenway, the simple sturdy design of the Mozaic Bridge is even more appealing.

If I have any complaint, it’s about the connection between the south side of the bridge and the rest of Uptown. The bridge empties onto a busway that feeds the transit station. The space around the station is uninviting for either bikes or peds. A walkway across the bus road runs past the Mozaic Art Park with it’s signature Colussus II head, but it doesn’t give the sense of a throughway for either bikes or pedestrians. As a matter-of-fact, it wasn’t until I had left the area, via the ramp and Greenway, that I realized that I didn’t even follow the walkway to see if it connected to anything.

The bridge, ramp and still developing Art Park were built by the Ackerberg Group as part of their new multi-use Mozaic Building. I’m not an architect, so I can’t comment intelligently on the design of the building, but I did note that it steps back from the trail as it rises, an intentional design feature that prevents the building’s shadow from blocking the sun on the trail. That design feature, plus the public bike and pedestrian amenities that came with the project, make Mozaic a great addition to the Uptown area.

The Mozaic Bridge and the bike ramp to the Midtown Greenway will be part of future Twin Cities Bike Maps but, like the bridge itself, the symbol for each will not stand out. They will be simple green lines on the map, but they will do their job when you get to the area.

Filed under: Bikeverywhere News, Misc

Tomorrow’s Trails Today (or Jumping the Gun)

Posted by Doug Shidell, March 17th , 2012.

One of the most disconcerting aspects of some bike maps is their habit of showing trails planned for the future as if they were already built. I recall two times where I set out to follow a bike trail that the map showed as existing, only to find that my only choice was a road with heavy traffic and no shoulder. I recently ran into two examples of this, although neither is likely to place the bicyclist in danger.

Brookfield’s Greenway page lists three projects scheduled for 2011-12. The current version of its map shows all three as presently existing. Late last fall, after printing the map, I decided to try all three, only to discover they didn’t exist.

Not to be outdone, Milwaukee’s bike plan shows existing and planned trails. Two of the “existing” trails run south from downtown along former railroad rights of way, one from Washington to Maple and the other along the Kinnickinnic River south of Lincoln. With the unseasonably warm weather last weekend, I decided to check them out. No sign of either although I spotted some construction that may be an early sign of conversion of the latter.

Filed under: Bikeverywhere News

Hank Aaron Trail Article

Posted by Doug Shidell, March 17th , 2012.

The magazine Rails to Trails has a really excellent article on the Hank Aaron Trail that runs the width of Milwaukee County, starting at the Lakeshore State Park on Milwaukee’s lake front and running east to the Oak Leaf Trail on the west side of the county.

Let me also make a pitch for joining the Rails to Trails organization that advocates for bike trails and worked hard to head off proposals to end federal funding of bike facilities.

Filed under: Bikeverywhere News, Misc

Bikeverywhere has a Facebook Page

Posted by Doug Shidell, March 13th , 2012.

After many false starts and delays, Bikeverywhere has a Facebook page. Check out the link on the right sidebar and click it to “Like” the Bikeverywhere page. You can learn more about milestones in our bike map publishing, see photos of interesting discoveries during research rides and learn about new developments at Bikeverywhere.

Why so slow entering the 21st Century? Call it a personality type. I can spend days riding around researching bike routes, then weeks in front of a computer creating and updating maps, but I can’t spend a lot of time scanning through the endless entries of the Facebook world or telling the world about every detail of my rather boring life. It just doesn’t work for me.

On the other hand, there are a lot of interesting things to discover by bike, so I’ll be posting photos and stories about my discoveries. My focus will be on the Twin Cities, but if you discover something interesting in any of the areas mapped by Bikeverywhere, drop me a line. I’d be happy to post your photos and stories.

One more thing: Bikeverywhere is making some big changes. It’s too early to go into detail, but stay tuned.

Filed under: Bikeverywhere News