06/07/11

Biking, Walking & Blogging: RiverLake Greenway Grand Opening Biking, Walking & Blogging: RiverLake Greenway Grand Opening

Completed RiverLake Greenway Grand Opening Saturday, June 11

5-mile dedicated Minneapolis bikeway between Lake Harriet and Mississippi River includes region's first bicycle boulevard

 

The grand opening of the RiverLake Greenway, a 5-mile dedicated bikeway in Minneapolis between the Mississippi River and Lake Harriet, will be held Saturday, June 11, from 1-5 p.m., with activities along the length of the Greenway. The opening of the Greenway is part of the Twin Cities' Bike Walk Week celebrations.

 

The RiverLake Greenway runs east-to-west in south Minneapolis, along 40th and 42nd Streets:

  • Along 42nd Street East, between West River Parkway and Nokomis Avenue
  • On Nokomis Avenue, from 42nd Street East to 40th Street East
  • Along 40th Street East, between Nokomis Avenue to Kings Highway and Lake Harriet Parkway

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The Greenway, whose origins trace to 1997, was completed this spring following a $400,000 grant from Bike Walk Twin Cities (BWTC), a program of Transit for Livable Communities, as part of the federal nonmotorized transportation pilot program. The original section of the Greenway extended from Lake Harriet to I-35 W, including the pedestrian bridge over the highway. 

 

"What began 14 years ago as an idea among Minneapolis residents interested in bicycling between the Chain of Lakes to the Mississippi River has finally become reality," said Joan Pasiuk, program director of BWTC. "The RiverLake Greenway is a beautiful and highly functional addition to the city of Minneapolis, certain to be used daily by bicyclists and pedestrians. It is a tremendous addition to the bicycle network in Minneapolis - a system of routes connecting people from where they live to where they want to go."

 

The RiverLake Greenway is less than two miles south of the highly popular Midtown Greenway, another east-west bikeway in Minneapolis, running near 29th Street. According to a BWTC count of bicycle traffic conducted between 4-6 p.m. in the fall of 2010, the Midtown Greenway attracted nearly 300 bicyclists per hour. BWTC officials expect the RiverLake Greenway to provide an alternate route across south Minneapolis geared toward bicyclists of all abilities.

 

Several activities are planned for the grand opening of the RiverLake Greenway:

  • Grand Opening Program - 1 p.m., Minnehaha Academy South Campus (4200 W. River Pkwy.), featuring the Sabanthanites Drum Corps, and an east-to-west bicycle ride for families.
  • RiverLake Bike Walk Destinations - 1-5 p.m., destinations along the RiverLake Greenway hosting check-ins, where registrants may sign up to win Greenway grand opening prizes.
  • Youth bicycle decorating, family bicycle parades, youth bike rodeos - 2-3 p.m. at Hiawatha School Park (4305 E. 42nd St.); 2:30-3:30 p.m. at Calvary Lutheran Church (3901 Chicago Ave. S.); and 3 to 4 p.m. at Martin Luther King Park (4055 Nicollet Ave. S.)
  • Sibley Park Celebration - (1900 E. 40th St.) 2-4 p.m., event concessions, rest area, and booths representing bicycle shops and bicycle/walking-related organizations
  • Event Prize Drawing - (3900 Bryant Ave. S.) 4 p.m., a drawing and prize giveaway

 

The RiverLake Greenway features several unique infrastructure improvements designed to aid safety and accessibility for bicyclists and pedestrians. It has striped bike lanes at its eastern and western ends, and the region's first bicycle boulevard in the middle, along the Greenway's longest segment.

 

Bicycle boulevards, which exist in a few American cities, are usually residential streets to which certain features have been added to make them good routes for bicycling, while also discouraging automobiles from using them as a throughway. On the RiverLake Greenway, these features include medians at major intersections, so that cars must turn and bicyclists and pedestrians can continue straight ahead. There also are curb extensions to make street crossings safer and easier, pedestrian "refuge islands" to aid street crossings, and stop signs removed so that bicycles do not have to stop at every corner.

 

"One of the advantages of a bicycle boulevard-style bikeway is that its traffic-calming measures take an ordinary residential street and make it even safer and easier to use for families, for both walking and bicycling," Pasiuk said. 

 

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At intersection of East 40th Street and Cedar Avenue S, bicycles can continue on 40th St, but cars must turn.

 

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Another diveter along RiverLake Greenway. Cars must turn, but bicycles and people walking can continue straight on 40th Street.