Misc

Bike to Work Day

Posted by Doug Shidell, May 29th , 2017.

Today was Bike-to-Work day at Quality Bicycle Products so the locker room was full. We shuffled gear around to accommodate the crowd and were covering the usual subjects; animal sightings in the park, wind direction, temperature and upcoming rides, when someone brought up the spec on a prototype Surly bike. The locker room is over-represented with bike engineers, marketing copywriters, brand managers and sales reps. Many use their daily commute for testing bikes and components that won’t be on the market for another year. Even mountain bikes get a work-out on the daily commute by test riders who drop into the bottomlands of the Minnesota River to weave through an occasionally flooded trail before emerging half a mile from work.

Aaron, from the next row of lockers, responded with an animated monologue about the bike. The rest of the locker room went quiet as he expounded on the subtle design points and ride feel of a prototype bike that had him excited. At first, there was nothing unusual. Engineering discussions are commonplace in the locker room. Most of it flies over my head, but I’ve observed enough to realize that the inane ramblings of bike reviewers in consumer bike magazines is nothing more than filling white space and making advertisers happy.

Aaron was still talking as he stripped down, grabbed a towel and wrapped it around his waist. He paused in front of our lockers to emphasize a point and continued talking as he shuffled to the showers. I caught a couple of arched eyebrows and knowing looks. We could hear the shower curtain slide to the side and a spray of water cascade off the walls. Aaron raised his voice so we could hear him over the shower noise.

“I want some of his coffee,” an engineer stage whispered. “I’ve got a long day ahead of me.”

Passing through “Spokes,” QBP’s lunch room, I overheard an auto-commuter discuss his drive to work. I can’t remember if he had a good day (traffic flowed smoothly and the lights were green) or a bad day (some idiot cut him off). The conversation is so predictable that I tune it out. Kim, the outgoing server behind the counter, greeted me by name as I passed by. She has an uncanny ability to remember everyone’s name and brightens our days with her greetings.

Several tables in the Atrium, beyond Spokes, were loaded with bagels, cream cheese, doughnuts and juice, the rewards for riding in on Bike-to-Work Day. I grabbed my share and passed through the doors to the near total silence of IT, stepped up to my computer and logged in to start the work day.

Filed under: Misc

Framed and Wood Mounted Twin Cities Bike Maps

Posted by Doug Shidell, April 18th , 2017.

I was recently contacted by Steve Strom of Posters on Board. He’s seeing a steady stream of map lovers come to the store to frame or wood mount their favorite maps, and a request to wood mount the Twin Cities Bike Map caught his attention. He is now carrying the laminated and folded versions of the map and would happily mount or frame them for you.

Filed under: Misc

Great Lakes Bicycle Tour

Posted by Doug Shidell, April 3rd , 2017.

Bikeverywhere introduces the latest in its series of long distance bicycle tours with the Great Lakes Bicycle Tour. This tour touches four of the five Great Lakes: Michigan, Huron, Erie and Ontario. The tour also includes Niagara Falls, the Niagara River, the Welland Canals and Ontario Vineyards. The entire tour can be downloaded to your phone or tablet where it will be accessible even if your phone isn’t compatible with the Canadian cell phone system.

Great Lakes Bike Tour part 1 Mobile map

Great Lakes Bike Tour part 2 Mobile map

Part 1 follows the eastern shore of Lake Michigan with its massive sand dunes, pretty shoreline towns and quiet back roads, then heads east across Central Michigan to the southwest shore of Lake Huron. It follows the Lake Huron shoreline south to the St. Claire River, passageway for the giant Lake Freighters that ply the Great Lakes. Stop at Marine City, the point where the tour crosses the St. Claire into Canada, or take the ferry across the river and follow a bike path south to Port Lambton.

Part 2 of the tour connects to the north shore of Lake Erie, the third Great Lake of the tour, and follows it to the Niagara Falls/Welland Canals area. Lake Freighters use the Welland Canals to bypass the Niagara River. A quiet bike path follows the canals north from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario, the fourth and last Great Lake. The route continues east through Ontario vineyards to the Canadian bank of the Niagara River. An attractive, although busy, bike path follows the river south to Fort Erie and a bike friendly river crossing to the city of Buffalo, New York on the United States side. Buffalo has an international airport and Amtrak for your return trip, or you can extend your ride by touring the Allegheny Mountains and historic Virginia.

For more information:

Great Lakes Bike Tour

Niagara Falls and the Welland Canals

Niagara Falls Narrative A first person account of the tour from fall of 2015.

Allegheny Mountains Bike Tour

Allegheny Mountains Bike Tour Narrative. A first person account of the ride from fall of 2016.

Filed under: Misc

Abandoned Bikes

Posted by Doug Shidell, January 2nd , 2017.

Abandoned bikes are an eyesore for the city and two that I had been watching for months really started bugging me. Minneapolis, in my opinion, should have removed them a long time ago. I decided to dig into the problem a little and maybe write a blistering editorial about the city’s indifference to this blight.

That’s when I discovered that the problem wasn’t with the city. Their policy is quite simple. Call 311, their number for all city services, or email 311@minneapolismn.gov and tell them where the abandoned bike is located. They will take care of it.

City policy, which applies only to bikes on public property, is that an unlocked bike or a bike that is parked illegally will be removed immediately. A locked bike will be tagged for 24 hours to give the owner time to claim it, then it will be removed.

I sent an email explaining where each of the two bikes was located and what I had observed. Both bikes were removed in less than a week.

The key here is citizen involvement. The city doesn’t just swoop down and take away bikes, it waits for someone to complain. I like that approach, and with that knowledge, I’ll be more vigilant.

What I won’t do is report an abandoned bike within 24 hours. There are all sorts of legitimate reasons why a rider may leave his or her bike unattended for several days or more. I have no desire to create a hassle for those riders. But when a bike starts showing signs of neglect: a rusty chain, flat tires, missing components, I’ll make the call or send the email.

Filed under: Misc One Comment

Full Moon Bike Ride

Posted by Doug Shidell, November 15th , 2016.

Our annual full moon pilgrimage to the Cannon Valley happened this weekend.

We met in the back parking lot of the Cannon River Inn in Welch Village. The sun had set nearly two hours earlier and the moon was high in a cloudless sky. Our destination was Miesville Ravine, 8 miles west on gravel roads.  We left the parking lot with headlights lit and rode through the single intersection in town. A block later we were in the country and one by one the lights went off, leaving only the blue white light of the moon to guide us. Our rides created a steady hum of crunching gravel, tree branches cast black, sharp-edged shadows across the road, an owl called in the distance, an animal rustled leaves in the woods and the night air turned chill. This is what we came for, that surreal feel of riding at the wrong time of the day, in the wrong season, with inadequate lights. Every noise and shadow could be interpreted as ominous or fascinating. We chose fascinating.

A car’s headlights approached from around the bend. Our headlights blinked on in response, but by the time the car reached the last riders in the group, the leader’s lights had gone dark. Headlights narrow the view. We were here for the expansiveness of the night. The road leveled off briefly, then turned and resumed its climb. The climb felt long and exhausting but warmed us for the regroup at the top.

We passed between two barns, one large and red, slightly run down and cast in shadows, the other low and white reflecting enough moonlight to create a ghostly aura. A moment later the road dropped sharply through deep woods. Headlights returned as riders raced to the bottom in an adrenalin rush of gravel and gravity. Then the night resumed.

The old farm road up the ravine wasn’t meant for bicyclists. On the other hand, it didn’t say No Trespassing and it was within park boundaries, so we slipped around the gate and began our ascent. We needed headlights to avoid overhanging branches on the high side of the trail, the rocks in the middle and the ravine on the low side. They went off again at the top when the landscape turned to open prairie. The farm track skirted the edge of the prairie, then plunged through the middle along an old windbreak of trees. A Loch Ness style piece of farm equipment deep in the prairie inspired a headlight-illuminated photo session and some high jinx.

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By the time we returned to the ravine, we were chilled and ready for a break. The front riders dashed through the woods and up the road to a picnic table. By the time the rest of us arrived, the table had been laid with a spread of food and beverages including hummus dip, cheese, chips, a lit votive candle, salted peanuts, beer and a couple of flasks of hard spirits. We emptied our packs, adding hot cocoa, guacamole dip and more chips to the cornucopia. We had matches and would have happily gathered firewood, but the site lacked a fire ring.

We would have lingered at a campfire. Without it, we leaned on the food and flasks for warmth, then moved on to a short exploration across the road where the glare of headlights cast picnic shelters in an eerie set of light and shadow.

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The return ride reversed the outbound route so what came down on the way out went up on the way back. The ascents warmed us. The descents chilled us and a slow burning meteorite confused us as it lit up the sky for a couple of long seconds.

The ride ended too soon for some, but for others a warm car with heated seats held a lot of appeal.

Mobile Cannon Valley Bike Rides

 

Filed under: Misc

Bike Parking in St. Louis Park

Posted by Doug Shidell, November 10th , 2016.

A note from Bob Fried of St. Louis Park

The apartment building that I live in is very bike friendly.  Most of the 150+ residents in the two buildings have one or more bikes.  The bike racks in the photo below are two of about a dozen.  All are pretty full.  In the Spring, the maintenance fellow and I have a bike clinic during which we tuneup any bikes that folks bring us.  I’ve also led an introductory ride down the Greenway, which is three blocks away, and around the lakes. I also take several folks out whenever interest is there. And my bike buddy, a resident during the summer months, and I ride together almost every day from May 15th to October 15. We ride many different routes from 15 to 100 miles.

colimkopgicamjbkRecently, I ordered a Twin Cities laminated map from you for the Ellipse management to hang so interested parties can review the local trails.  Management plans to order a second one so that they can mount each side on a wall. 

Filed under: Misc

Updated mobile Twin Cities Bike Map includes the new Cedar Ave Bike Bridge

Posted by Doug Shidell, October 14th , 2016.

The updated mobile Twin Cities Bike Map is now available. Updates include the recently opened Cedar Ave Bridge, a new bike bridge over I-494 near Shady Oak Lake, new trails along Lexington Ave in Eagan and along the Mississippi River in NE Minneapolis plus numerous smaller changes.

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Cedar Avenue Bridge Is Open

Posted by Doug Shidell, October 8th , 2016.

The old Cedar Avenue Bridge is open! These photos are courtesy of Doug Stevens who was at the bridge this afternoon. He reports that the construction crews were rolling up the chain link fence and allowing pedestrians and bicyclists to cross.

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Officially, the bridge will open sometime in mid-October, but with a couple of caveats. The bridge will not be plowed or salted this winter in order to allow the concrete to properly cure. The bridge will also close for an unspecified period next year because of construction of the Visitor’s Center and surrounding area.

The bridge closed around the year 2000 because the structure had deteriorated to the point where engineers could poke holes in the I-beams supporting the bridge deck with a pen. During the next decade and a half, it sat unused as 5 different government agencies debated who would own the bridge, whether it should be demolished and replaced with a new pedestrian bridge, who would pay for all of the work, etc.

That’s all been resolved now and we finally have another option for crossing the river. The bridge will also be very popular with bird watchers, pedestrians and fishermen and fisherwomen.

Filed under: Misc One Comment

Cedar Ave Bridge and Black Dog Road

Posted by Doug Shidell, September 26th , 2016.

Back in the Twin Cities and checking on the progress on two of the major bike projects in the area. Check the photo below to see that the Cedar Ave. Bridge project has moved along nicely. The deck is in place, the arches are refurbished and painted and the approach ramps look finished. The bridge is still gated off for finishing touches and possibly to allow the concrete to cure. Expect construction to continue through next year as they finish a Visitor’s Center and other amenities on the north side of the Minnesota River. Let’s hope the bridge will open soon despite the other projects.

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Black Dog Rd, on the south side of the river, now has a continuous bike path from the Cedar Ave. Bridge to I-35W. It shows off all of the amenities of the area, including the Minnesota River and Black Dog Lake. If you’re in the area, take a moment to rest and check out the water fowl on Black Dog Lake. There’s a very nice deck/overlook just off the trail with spotting scopes.

No bike trail is complete without a brewery near by and this one is no exception. Bald Man Brewery is south of the Cedar Ave. Bridge on Silver Bell Road. It’s tucked away in a nondescript mall on the north side of Hwy 13. Considering the tight affinity between cyclists and craft brewers, we were surprised to see that there were no bike racks near the brewery doors. Turns out that the landlord refused the brewery’s request for racks. It’s hard to believe that there are still businesses in the Twin Cities that don’t understand the role of bicyclists in the area’s transportation network.

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Updated mobile Twin Cities Bike Map

Posted by Doug Shidell, June 21st , 2016.

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The mobile Twin Cities Bike Map has been updated. This is the second update for 2016 and it includes some major changes. The reconstruction of I-35E has affected nearly every bike route in the area and changed the alignment of the Gateway Trail. The Gateway Trail now follows the eastern sound wall of I-35E between Cayuga Ave and Arlington Ave. The change to the Gateway Trail alignment was not completed at publication time, but the trail can be easily access by taking Cayuga Ave to the east side of the Interstate and looking for the trail. Signage and access will be improved during the summer.

I had to remove all road routes around the Velodrome in Blaine. The Blaine Sports Complex, which surrounds the Velodrome, draws thousands of soccer and hockey players every weekend creating high traffic on roads with no accommodations for bicyclists. On a recent research ride in the area, I did not feel the roads were safe for cyclists. Unfortunately, this isolates the Velodrome and makes it difficult for cyclists to ride to events at the track.

I also removed the Nicollet Mall as a bike route. The Mall is under construction and not a good route for bicyclists. I’ve added 4th Ave, however. It is a good alternate and provides a route through Downtown.

Several changes in NE Minneapolis. I removed Washington and Monroe as bike routes and used more of 5th. 5th is a designated bike route and has a bike specific signal at Broadway Ave.

Several minor changes in the Midway area, Bloomington, Edina, and the West Bank. The adjustments reflect changes in traffic patterns and some road changes.

The updated map is available through the PDF Maps Store. If you’ve already purchased the mobile 2016 Twin Cities Bike Map, uploads are free through the end of the year.

Filed under: Misc