Navigating by BikeNavigating by Bike

Use local streets. Want to travel down Hennepin Avenue, but don't want to deal with the traffic? There are often parallel streets that go through residential and lightly traveled commercial districts; using these will make bicycling both more enjoyable and safer.

Map it out. Get a copy of the Bicycle Route Map for the area you live in. Many cities in the metro, including Minneapolis, offer bicycling maps online. The Twin Cities Bike Map from Little Transport Press covers most of the metro in detail and is available for sale at most bike shops. A word of caution, though. Not all maps are made equal, and a map may have a different idea of "bike-friendly" than you are comfortable with. If you don't already know the route a map suggests, we strongly recommend a test run before you use it for a commute.

Blaze your own trail. If you see gaps in the suggested routes or do not see a route that is direct enough, try exploring on the weekend or after work. A leisurely ride through a new neighborhood may reveal alternate roads that may be perfect for your commute. Make sure to mark your map so you can remember those new discoveries!

Other riders can help. Ask other bicyclists how they get from point A to point B; bicyclists love to share their knowledge of good rides and routes.

Plan ahead. Plan where you will cross busy roads or other obstacles. Look for bike lanes, paths, traffic signals, or overpasses and underpasses that will allow you to connect two parts of your route.

Don't be afraid to share. Don't assume that a road must be clear of traffic to be bikeable. Bicyclists are operators of vehicles under Minnesota state law, and can legally ride on all roads except limited access highways. A short stretch on a less desirable road may be all that is needed to get you between two easy pieces of your commute.

Make it social. Get a bike buddy to ride with you. Go out on weekends or after work or find someone in your company or neighborhood to ride with you on your daily commute. Practice opens up possibilities. The more comfortable you are riding in traffic, the more routes will be available to you. Practice your safety skills and riding habits when you're not in a hurry so you will feel more comfortable riding on the streets.