EAST HARRIET — U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar will kick off the grand opening celebration for RiverLake Greenway, a recently completed five-mile bikeway, 1 p.m. Saturday at 4200 West River Parkway.
The RiverLake Greenway is the region’s first completed bicycle boulevard, connecting Lake Harriet to the Mississippi River. From Lake Harriet Parkway in Southwest the trail runs east on 40th Street until Nokomis Avenue, where it turns south for two blocks and continues on 42nd Street to the Mississippi River.
The bikeway was completed this spring through funding issued by Bike Walk Twin Cities, a federal initiative aimed at increasing biking and walking. The Twin Cities was one of four communities nationwide to receive $22 million to enhance bicycling and walking through the federal Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program.
Bike Walk Twin Cities approved the funds in 2007, issuing the city a $400,000 grant for the project. Construction began in September.
“We hope that having these new ways to get around will encourage people to give (bicycling) a try,” said Hilary Reeves of Bike Walk Twin Cities.
Bicycle boulevards usually are found on residential streets with certain features added to improve bicycle safety, such as diverters at major intersections and fewer stop signs. Bikes should be able to move fairly quickly on the new lanes, Reeves said.
“It’s the first of its kind (in Minneapolis), but not the last you’ll see,” she said.
Reeves said there were plans to build two more bicycle boulevards in Northeast and one in South this summer and to add bike lanes in both North and South.
Following Klobuchar’s opening remarks on Saturday, the grand opening will feature several events along the length of the greenway, including youth bicycle decorating, family bicycle parades, youth bike rodeos and event prize drawing.