The other day I was heading to meet friends at a restaurant on Nicollet Avenue in South Minneapolis. But, it was closed, so Plan B was another restaurant a bit farther north and west. As I sat on my bike, I thought about what route would be best.
Nicollet was an option (bicycles are considered vehicles by law and can ride on any street except highways). But, I knew that only a block or so away 1st Avenue offered a bike lane that would be a quieter way north. Off I went.
On this and many other occasions, I’ve been glad to have a mental map of good bike routes. In Minneapolis, the options are increasing all the time, as a system of routes takes shape.
We have off-road bike trails along the river and lakes, bike lanes on several streets (including some that have painted buffers), and bicycle boulevards along quiet residential streets. In addition, the City of Minneapolis is moving forward with a plan for protected bikeways, routes that have a physical buffer (plastic bollards, planters, or parked cars) between the cyclists and automobiles. Some new routes are planned for 2015.
Here’s a cheat sheet of good on-street bicycle routes in South Minneapolis. Note: there likely are other good routes not included here. It’s always interesting to swap stories with other cyclists about preferred routes. City of Minneapolis bicycle maps show all these routes and are available at local libraries.
South Minneapolis north-south routes
Moving from west to east, here are on-street routes, most of which go between downtown and points south.
Upton Avenue South
If your destinations are south of the lakes in southwest Minneapolis, this recently completed bicycle boulevard runs near Xerxes, and not too far from France Ave. It connects from 50th Street West to the Highway 62 frontage road. The route crosses over Minnehaha Creek and is not far from Armatage Park.
Bryant Avenue South
This route runs from the Loring bicycle bridge (near downtown) all the way to West 58th Street. It is two blocks west of Lyndale Avenue.
1st & Blaisdell
If you are heading to destinations on Nicollet, there are bike lanes (sometimes buffered) on two parallel streets — 1st Avenue (heading north) and Blaisdell Ave (heading south). These lanes are just west of 35W and run between downtown and 40th Street, which is the east-west RiverLake Greenway.
Park & Portland
These are very popular north-south routes. The bike lanes often have a wide painted buffer, providing welcome space between bicyclists and cars. These lanes run from downtown to Richfield.
The city completed work this summer on new bike lanes on Chicago Avenue, between Lake Street and 46th Street East. A few blocks west of Powderhorn Park, they connect to existing lanes on Chicago between 46th and 60th Street East. The lanes go right past the Pillsbury House Theater and several parks: Phelps Field, McRae, and Todd.
17th Avenue & 12th Avenue Bicycle Boulevard
On the east side of Powderhorn Park, this route runs parallel to Cedar Avenue, from East 24th Street (a few blocks below Franklin Avenue) to Richfield. (Note: Bike lanes along 11th Avenue connect downtown to East 24th) At the junction with the Minnehaha Park bike lane, the route moves east to 12th Avenue, where it continues south to Richfield and bike lanes all the way to Bloomington.
Minnehaha Avenue South
On the east side of Hiawatha Avenue (where there is an off-street bike trail), bike lanes extend from Franklin Avenue south to Minnehaha Park. From the Seward neighborhood, bike lanes on 26th Avenue South connect to the Minnehaha route.
South Minneapolis east-west routes
The main east-west route in South Minneapolis is, of course, the Midtown Greenway. It is a few blocks north of Lake Street. Farther south, the RiverLake Greenway, a bicycle boulevard, runs along 40th Street, from Lake Harriet, past Martin Luther King, Jr., Park, Phelps Field, and Sibley Park, continuing east (and jogging down to 42nd Street) to the West River Road bike path. Even farther south, the bike path along Minnehaha Creek provides another east-west route, also connecting to bike paths along the river and lakes.
The city of Minneapolis is adding a few shorter east-west segments of protected bike lanes. A two-way protected bike route runs from Lake Harriet east to the Bryant Avenue Bike Boulevard along West 36th Street. A new stretch of protected bikeway is being installing this summer, a few blocks north of the Midtown Greenway along two parallel streets — East 26th and East 28th — between Park & Portland bike lanes and the Mississippi River. The new lanes run on either side of Abbott Northwestern Hospital and near the American Swedish Institute — ride on over to their exhibit about the electric Hagstrom guitar! The city is also adding new bike lanes lanes on East 31st St between Bloomington and 21st Ave South and on West Diamond Lake Road/West 54th Street between Lyndale and 35W.
There also are good routes in other parts of Minneapolis — in north and northeast as well as near the University of Minnesota campus. Mental maps and rides for another day.
Hilary Reeves is communications director for Transit for Livable Communities.