The Twin Cities cycling calender was definitely over-booked this weekend. Far from the metro area, the MS-150 ride was this weekend, closer to home (but still a car trip away) was the Westside Dirty Benjamin (a 100-mile gravel race through the counties west of the metro). Closer to home, we had the grand opening/ribbon-cutting of the River-Lake Bike Boulevard on Saturday and the Open Streets Ciclovia on Lyndale Ave. on Sunday.
I opted for the close-to-home events this year, joining friends for both the River-Lake celebration on Saturday and the festive atmosphere at the Ciclovia on Sunday.
The River-Lake Bike Boulevard is a significant addition to our bike infrastructure in South Minneapolis. Prior to the development of this bike boulevard, our best east-west bike routes were either Midtown Greenway or the Minnehaha Creek Trail, which is about 2.4 miles south of the Greenway at 17th Ave.. The new River Lake Bike Boulevard is just about halfway between the Greenway and Minnehaha Parkway so it helps to fill in a significant gap in our east-west routes.
Beyond filling this void, the River Lake Bike Boulevard is significant for two other reasons: it is Minneapolis’ FIRST bike boulevard and the route makes use of existing bike lanes in the Kingfield neighborhood and existing pedestrian bridge over I-35W on 40th Street to connect the popular bike trails around Lake Harriet and Lake Calhoun with the West River Road bike trail. With the addition of some traffic calming features and some diversions to give bikes preferential treatment, we now have our first bike boulevard!
The Ribbon-Cutting ceremony was held at 42nd Street and West River Parkway, and featured a rousing performance from the Sabathani drummers, speeches by elected officials, including Amy Klobar, and a ribbon-cutting and group ride down the bike boulevard.
Along the ride,we stopped at Sibley Park and talked with representatives of Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition, Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota, and Bike/Walk Twin Cities and chatted with Josh from Angry Catfish while eating hotdogs (a fund-raiser for Sibley Park). One of the best parts of the ride for me, however, was an art installation of colored yarn over the 40th Street pedestrian bridge, which created a rainbow effect as we approached and rode across the bridge. It was wonderful and whimsical and worth stopping to take a photo of.
We owe a big thank you to the staff, elected officials and the citizens that worked to plan and implement this project. If you have not ridden this route yet, make a point to give it try to tell us what you think!