Archive for October, 2012

The fearsome Racine-Milwaukee county border

Posted by Doug Shidell, October 23rd , 2012.

For years the section between 6-Mile Road in Racine County and Ryan Rd in Milwaukee was a challenge for bicyclists traveling between Chicago and Milwaukee and using bike trails (see my description of this route). A 1976 guide to Wisconsin bike routes along the entire Lake Michigan shoreline describes this as “the MOST DANGEROUS STRETCH” of the whole route. The direct route follows highway 32 which can carry quite heavy traffic. Recently the highway and its shoulders have been repaved which improved things somewhat but not enough. Between 6 Mile and 7 Mile roads, in particular, the shoulders are uncomfortably narrow. Closing of the rail crossing of 7 Mile Road as part of the expansion of the WE Energies plant added a mile to the stretch on highway 32. One can avoid highway 32 by using roads to the west but at the cost of adding a mile or two to the route.

Trail construction over the last few years has raised hopes that this gap would finally be filled. Unfortunately the result so far fall short of the need. But, with the placement of bike route signs in Racine county, the route, such as it is, appears to be semi-official. I describe it here traveling north, which has the advantage of avoiding four crossings of highway 32.

At the end of the unpaved Racine county trail at 6 mile Road, follow the new bike route signs west on 6 Mile, north on highway 32, and then east on 7 Mile to its dead end. A new unpaved trail starts there and goes north to the county line (the surface on this section is too rough for my taste; perhaps it will improve with use). At the county line, a new paved–and very nice–trail continues north to Elm Rd. Continue east on Elm, picking up a trail that loops south and then east, crossing railroad tracks through a kind of stile, and then follows a WE Energies plant road north to Oakwood Rd. Go west on Oakwood, north on Highway 32, and finally east at Ryan Rd. From there one can follow city streets to the Oak Leaf Trail in Grant Park.

Filed under: Bikeverywhere News

New trail in Glendale

Posted by Doug Shidell, October 23rd , 2012.

Glendale has just opened a new bike trail running south from Mill Road along the former Interurban route to Sidney Place. Among other things, this trail connects a Glendale neighborhood isolated by two railroad tracks to the rest of Glendale.

For bicyclists traveling to Brown Deer Park (or further north along the Interurban Trail), the new trail offers an alternative to following the Milwaukee River Parkway. Going north, the new route starts with the recently repaved (mostly) trail that leaves the parkway before the first of two bridges crossing Lincoln Creek and continues northwest to Villard Avenue. Then the route continues west to 25th St. The route then goes north along 25th, with a few jogs until Sidney Place dead ends. The new path starts there and runs through a triangle formed by the intersection of three railroads. At the end of the path, the bicyclist can job east on Mill Road and then north on Range Line Rd to the park.

The Milwaukee parks department has plans to build a trail connecting the new trail with Brown Deer Park, also along the old Interurban right of way. More long range plans call for converting an abandoned right of way connecting the north end of the new trail to the existing Oak Leaf Trail that follows Wilson Drive south of Hampton. The railroad abandoned this track some years ago but apparently has still not called it excess.

Filed under: Bikeverywhere News

Exploring NE Minneapolis

Posted by Doug Shidell, October 22nd , 2012.

For me, the bicycle has always been a tool for exploring.  Researching and publishing bicycle maps is a natural extension of that need. Riding buddy Doug and I spent Sunday afternoon in NorthEast. We brought cameras and looked for the architecturally interesting churches in the area, but our noses took us to the trains yards, Grumpy’s Bar, Grain Belt Brewery, Boom Island and points in between. I’ve attached a couple of photos taken along the way.

Filed under: Bikeverywhere News

North Minneapolis Greenway

Posted by Doug Shidell, October 15th , 2012.

North Minneapolis may get its first greenway if a proposal by the city moves forward. The proposal is in the earliest stages, but  a few details are available.  The route could be a bike boulevard that is shared by bikes and motorists, but with traffic calming features, a full greenway with no traffic or a half and half with both a trail and car traffic. The bikeway could increase green space, according to the city, and allow for amenities such as community gardens, playgrounds, barbecues and public art.

Three different routes have been proposed. They include Logan Ave. N, James Ave. N or a combination of Irving and Humboldt Aves. N. The three streets are about half a mile east of Victory Memorial Dr. Although this would become the first Greenway in North Minneapolis, it isn’t the first in the City. The Midtown Greenway runs east west through south Minneapolis and has had traffic averaging over 3000 bike trips per day with peaks as high as 5000 riders.  Milwaukee Ave in the Seward neighborhood is a different type of greenway with residential buildings facing a greenway with common green space and a sidewalk/bike trail but no cars.

The first of a series of community Open Houses will be Tuesday, October 16 from 6:00-8:00 pm at the Folwell Park Recreation Center 1615 Dowling Ave N.

For more information go to North MinneapolisGreenway on the cities website.

Filed under: Bikeverywhere News

Bicycling near Ortonville, MN

Posted by Doug Shidell, October 10th , 2012.

Looking across Big Stone Lake

Ortonville, Minnesota, on the South Dakota border, was our destination for the weekend. so the question became- is it worth bringing our bikes?

The answer is a qualified Yes. The area is surprisingly attractive and geologically interesting. Ortonville is located on Big Stone Lake, a long, wide and shallow lake that is the source of the Minnesota River. Just north of it, at Brown’s Valley, is Lake Traverse, the source of the Red River. The two rivers flow in opposite directions: The Minnesota River flows to the Mississippi and eventually to the Gulf of Mexico. The Red River flows north and connects with rivers flowing into Hudson’s Bay. The Continental Divide is at the south side of Lake Traverse.

A circle tour of Big Stone Lake is about 70 miles. I suggest a clockwise loop using Hwy 109 and County Rd 4 on the South Dakota side of the lake and Hwy 7 along the Minnesota side. The South Dakota side is wide open, with very few trees and several long straight segments of road. It is not flat. Hwy 109 climbs a series of buttes, the ancient beaches of Glacial Lake Agassiz, traverses the high flat plains at the top of the buttes, then drops back down into the Big Stone Lake basin.

Take a break in Brown’s Valley and head north on Hwy 7 about a mile to Lake Traverse and the Continental Divide. Lake Traverse is an attractive lake that might offer good road riding near it, but we didn’t explore the area.

Heading south, along Hwy 7 in Minnesota, check the historical markers. Brown’s Valley Man, the oldest skeleton in the US (9,000 years old) was discovered in this area in the 1960s.

Hwy 7 wanders away from the lake for a few miles, then makes its way back to the shore and turns into a narrow, winding road that loops and twists through woods and along the shoreline. It’s a beautiful road, but it doesn’t have a shoulder, so be aware of traffic and avoid the road during harvest season (October) because fast moving grain hauling semis use it to get between farm fields and granaries.

So why a qualified yes? The narrow road and limited sight lines of Hwy 7 and the wide open, straight roads of South Dakota won’t work for some riders. Casual and trail riders also have limited options. The Minnesota River State Trail, the only trail in the immediate area, starts in Ortonville and goes 3.5 miles along the Minnesota River, then ends abruptly.

I found the area attractive and with more time would have enjoyed exploring it in depth. There are other lakes in the area, many surrounded by nature preserves and quiet paved roads, that hold promise for good bike riding. If I find myself traveling to the area again, I will bring my bike.

Filed under: Bikeverywhere News

NE Minneapolis

Posted by Doug Shidell, October 10th , 2012.

I met her on 11th Ave near downtown. She asked for the best bike route across the Mississippi River. I mentioned that I was double checking my routes right now and pulled out the Twin Cities Bike Map. Her first reaction: “Why haven’t you mapped more routes in North Minneapolis?”  It wasn’t the response I expected, but it had the right impact.

I changed my research plans and headed north, but never made it to North Minneapolis. Instead, I ran into hundreds of bicyclists throughout Northeast. There was an open streets festival on Lowry Ave, but I didn’t even make it to the festival. Bicyclists were everywhere. Bicycling in Northeast is alive and healthy, and the area has a lot of bicycle destinations. I spent the afternoon researching the routes and came up with a number of changes.

More important, it has me thinking about the focus of the detailed urban side of the bike map. The map has a southern focus, with nearly all of Bloomington included in the detailed side, but half of NE and North Minneapolis missing. I’ll be looking at this in depth. I can guarantee that the detail side will shift northward, but the final extent of the map will be determined after further research.

And to the woman who challenged me to rethink the map, thank you.

Filed under: Bikeverywhere News