Neighborhood promotes bike trail linking Lake Calhoun and Isles

The Cedar-Isles-Dean Neighborhood Association (CIDNA) is pitching a new bike trail to connect Lake Calhoun and Lake of the Isles, hoping to create a safer route across Lake Street.

From Lake Calhoun, a two-way bike trail would take cyclists from West Calhoun Parkway to Lake Street, crossing Lake at the Thomas Avenue stoplight. A long-term vision for the trail would have it proceed underneath the Midtown Greenway in a tunnel. But in the interim, neighborhood leaders hope the trail could connect to the Greenway at-grade. North of the Greenway, the trail would continue through the woods west of the dog park, and connect with the bike trail on the south side of Lake of the Isles. 

“The community is generally seeking ways to safely cross Lake Street,” said Bob Corrick, chair of the CIDNA Land Use and Development Committee.

The CIDNA board noted that 40,000 cars per day on West Lake present a safety hazard for anyone trying to cross, made evident in the death of pedestrian Caitlan Barton in 2014.

“West Lake’s high traffic intrudes on the park setting between Lake of the Isles and Lake Calhoun,” states a CIDNA resolution adopted in January. “The existing Lagoon Trail presents the only peaceful connection between the lakes.”

In addition, the Midtown Greenway doesn’t have an exit or entry between East Calhoun and Dean Parkways.

The concept of a “land bridge” over Lake Street has been floated in the past, though the idea lacks funding. Funding isn’t determined for the new trail concept either. 

Corrick said part of the opportunity for a trail now is due to the Greystar apartments slated for construction this spring at 2622 W. Lake St. The trail could pass in front of the apartments and travel through green space east of the building before connecting to the Greenway. The CIDNA board hopes the project’s development fees that pay for parkland could be used to help fund the trail. ESG Architects, Kimley Horn and Greystar have already volunteered design time for the project.

“When we voted not to oppose Greystar, part of the vision was to create connectivity, and we’re following up on that,” Corrick said.

Corrick said he hopes the Park Board will include the trail in an upcoming regional park study, to determine the cost and make it part of the Park Board’s long-term plan. The project would also need buy-in from the Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority for a temporary at-grade connection to the Greenway.