When I first moved back to Minneapolis, after a season in Alta, Utah, working at a ski resort, I was excited to be back in my hometown and to be outdoors. My first bicycle in the city was far from a beauty, an old, 70’s, Japanese brand named Cherry, with a heavy steel frame, horrendous gray paint job and a lot of chips in it. Needless to say it was, and still is, bomb proof.
I loved taking the “Cherry” up the gentle incline of Girard Ave to Douglas where, as you approach Hennepin, the hill drops and becomes enormous allowing the Cherry to take wing. I’d lean into my sharp left turn, cross the Groveland Terrace intersection and slalom the grass circles on the Walker Art Center sidewalk to the pedestrian bridge; where I’d admire the prominent spoon and cherry and watch the traffic from 94 slowly, and noisily, glide under my wheels. From there, the ride was easy, through Loring Park, onto Hennepin and to work, all in about 10-15 minutes, tops.
Although a lot has changed in the five years since my first bicycle commuting adventures, it’s still my preferred method of transportation around Minneapolis. I’ve upgraded, bikes, I no longer have one but four, I have panniers to carry gear, clothes, food and supplies; I’m smarter about riding in traffic and planning my routes along our incredible, and elaborate, trail/route system and I plan to keep at it in the years to come. I now live in South Minneapolis, in the Kingfield Neighborhood, but I’m still working downtown, closer to the river, and my commute is now 30 minutes, but it’s a breath of fresh air, not at all an inconvenience.
I feel blessed in Minneapolis, our bicycle route and trail system is INCREDIBLE! I live near 40th and Blaisdell Ave, an incredible crossroads for bicycle share routes, whether it’s Blaisdell Ave S, W 40th St, the new S 1st Ave Route or, one of my favorites, the chain of lakes trails. Although, I sometimes will venture East of my house to take Park Ave S into the city and Portland Ave S home, both have designated bicycle lanes as well.
Typically I’m on my bike by 7:30am, I make a few turns and I pedal S. 1st Ave all the way into the city, in fact I don’t turn again until I’m at Marquette Plaza, where my office is. The designated bike route is clearly marked, away from traffic and is a very comfortable ride, with just a few inclines. Marquette Plaza, is the first Platinum Leed Certified buildings in Minneapolis and they have an indoor bike rack to lock bikes to as well as a locker room with showers for commuters.
One of my favorite activities after a long, stressful day at the office is to take the long way home. I rarely make it three blocks from my office and my worries have vanished, my stress diminished and I’m smiling ear to ear as I pedal to Cedar Lake Trail with the sun on my face, the wind in my hair (helmeted hair of course) and the clean air in my lungs. It’s rare I’m in a rush as I make my way to the scenic and less trafficked Cedar Lake, then around Lake of the Isles, the popular Calhoun (which is great for people watching and sunsets) and to Harriet, where I barely make it a quarter of the way around then go the last eight blocks on 40th to home base. It may take me two hours some days, stopping to stretch, watching a sunset, dipping my feet in the fresh lake or, bumping into a buddy and adding a few miles on the ride, but, what’s the rush?
To be a bicycle commuter allows me to take in those moments of nature that zoom by you in a car, to take advantage of personal quiet time, to feel my heart beat and my lungs breathe in our fresh air, but, most importantly to me, to be a part of the incredible Minneapolis bicycle system.