A 152-mile Nice Ride

The Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition's executive director takes an epic Nice Ride trip. Plus: Midtown Greenway Coalition celebrates 20 years and free Home Energy Squad visits

Ethan Fawley, second from left, joined by Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition board members Maria Wardoku, Sarah Tschida and Amy Brugh. Credit: Submitted image

Minneapolis’ Nice Ride bike-sharing system is designed for relatively short, around-town trips. Nonmembers get the bikes for only 30 minutes at a time before racking up additional charges.

On Sunday, Sept. 13, Ethan Fawley started pedaling a Nice Ride at 6 a.m. and he kept riding — except for a few breaks to eat and a longer pause at Shir Tikvah to mark the start of Rosh Hashanah — until 12:30 a.m. the next morning. Fawley covered 152 miles on a bike that is definitely not designed for long-distance travel, helping to raise more than $4,600 for the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition, where he serves as executive director.

A little less than a week later, Fawley was still nursing a sore Achilles tendon.

“But I’ll admit I’m not used to riding 150 miles,” he said.

(Judging from photos, Fawley was riding in flip-flops, but who knows if the footwear is to blame for the tendon injury.)

Fawley was joined by three of the coalition’s board members for much of the trip, and the trio logged a combined 339 miles. Other supporters tagged along for a portion of the route, which zigged and zagged through Minneapolis and also included side trips to the state capitol building in St. Paul and Excelsior — possibly marking the first-ever appearance of a Nice Ride bicycle on the shores of Lake Minnetonka.

The money raised will go back to the coalition, supporting initiatives like Open Streets Mpls and the Bikeways for Everyone campaign to add protected bike lanes to Minneapolis streets.

Fawley put 100 miles on a Nice Ride during a similar fundraising ride in 2014, which raises the question: Why not pick a bicycle better suited to the task? Something with drop handlebars and more than three gears, for instance.

Fawley said his summer bicycle was stolen about a month before that 2014 ride, and when day of the century rolled around he’d already been commuting via Nice Ride for weeks. There’s a station near both his house and the coalition’s office in Seven Corners, and with dozens of other stations scattered across town he could usually take Nice Ride to and from meetings. He decided to stick with what was working.

Fawley is so satisfied with the bike-sharing service he hasn’t even replaced that stolen bike.

“I’ve taken five non-Nice Ride (bicycle) trips in the past three months,” he said, adding that he’s closing in on 250 Nice Rides for the summer.


Midtown Greenway Coalition celebrates 20 years

Midtown Greenway Coalition supporters are invited to eat their way down the greenway during the organization’s annual progressive dinner and 20th-anniversary celebration.

The coalition incorporated as a nonprofit in 1995, five years before there even was a greenway, and advocated to get it built. It now works to protect and enhance the 5.5-mile non-motorized transportation corridor while also tracking development along the trail, running the Trail Watch safety patrols and organizing regular greenway cleanup events.

George Puzak, a former Park Board commissioner, is credited with developing the vision of a bicycle and pedestrian trail in the former 29th Street railroad corridor. In 1992, Puzak shared the idea with Tim Springer, who would become the coalition’s first executive director and serve in that position until his retirement in 2011.

“The greenway has really exceeded everyone’s expectation and vision,” Soren Jensen, the current executive director, said.

The city estimates daily traffic on the greenway exceeds 5,000 bicyclists in its busiest segments, and hundreds of walkers and joggers also use the path. Another sign of its success are the scores of new apartment and condominium units that have sprung up around the greenway, especially in Uptown.

“It’s really amazing how the greenway has become known as the best urban bike trail in the nation, but it’s also great how it’s helped to spur all this urban development,” Jensen said.

The progressive dinner moves west to east, beginning with an appetizer course at Uptown’s Elan Apartments. Diners bike to Midtown for a main course of WildEarth Woodfired Pizza before pedaling on for homemade desserts in Seward.

The progressive dinner runs 4:30 p.m.–7:30 p.m. Oct. 4. The cost is $55. (Early-bird registration is $45 through Sept. 21.)

There’s room for about 75 riders, and registration is required. Go to midtowngreenway.org.


Free home energy consultations

Minneapolis plans to make Home Energy Squad visits free for households that meet income guidelines.

The in-home consultations with home energy experts typically cost $70. For a limited time, they’ll be free to single-person households with annual incomes less than $35,310 and multi-person households with an additional income of up to $12,480 for each additional person.

The city reports more than 7,000 Minneapolis households have already been paid a visit by the Home Energy Squad. Call 335-5874 to schedule a visit or go online to mncee.org/hes-mpls.