Categorized | IN OUR COMMUNITY

St. Paul biking resources abound

Posted on 10 April 2015 by Calvin


Bikes iconThe City of St. Paul is currently designated as a bronze level “bicycle friendly community” by the Bicycle Alliance of America. With the recent adoption of the St. Paul Bicycle Plan (SPBP), that designation may well rise to silver—or maybe even gold.

In a recent press release, Mayor Chris Colemen said, “This long-term, comprehensive plan will transform our neighborhoods over time. It will help to ensure a balanced, equitable approach to transportation infrastructure, improved safety and quality of life, new economic opportunities and better access for people of all ages.”

The approved SPBP calls for an additional 197 miles of bicycle trails, boulevards and protected lanes for safe travel. Once completed, this will link 350 miles of biking throughways within the City of St. Paul. (See story on page 4.)

Whether you’re new to the sport or a seasoned cyclist, there are many resources near-by to help make your biking experience great.

If you don’t own a bike and want give it a try, consider renting one for an hour or a day through Nice Ride Minnesota. Their slogan is, “Public bikes for everyone—fast, affordable and fun.” They have rental stations in Hamline-Midway all along University Ave., corresponding with the Green Line stops. It’s easy to rent a bike with a credit or debit card at any of the stations. They’re getting an early start on the season this year and, weather permitting, plan to be up and rolling by Apr. 3.Their website is full of useful information, including fun day-trip routes around town and a valuable section on bike safety. Check it out at www.niceridemn.org.

If you have your own bicycle and it needs some work, there are several reputable shops within an easy bike ride from Hamline-Midway.

To the south are Boehm’s Cycling, Express Bike Shop, Now Bikes and Grand Performance, all of which can get you ready for spring.

To the east, at 712 University Ave. (near Grotto) is an innovative non-profit bike cooperative called Cycles for Change. Their mission is to build a diverse and empowered community of bicyclists, by helping people learn to maintain and repair their own bikes. While full-service repair for pay is an option, they encourage cyclists to come into the store during open shop times, to use their tools and ask questions of their mechanics on staff – all at no charge. The spring schedule for Open Shop is

Tuesday from 4-8pm (for women and transgender); Wednesday from 3-9pm and Sunday from 12-5pm, when everyone is welcome.

All MTC buses, the Blue, Green and North Star train lines are now equipped with bike racks. The racks will hold most wheel and frame sizes, except recumbents. There is no extra charge to use the bike racks and if you would like to practice loading your bike in a stationary setting, come on down to Cycles for Change or, another hub of bicycling wisdom, called St. Paul Smart Trips.

St. Paul Smart Trips (56 East 5th St., #202) is a TMO, or Transportation Management Organization. Their role is to collaborate with advocates, neighbors, workplace representatives and government staff—all working to address the transportation needs of the people of St. Paul.

Executive Director Jessica Treat, whose family is car-free by choice, is an enthusiastic supporter of bicycle commuting. “St. Paul Smart Trips helps people explore their options for getting around town, whether by foot, bike or transit. The goal of the organization is to provide information on healthy, environmentally friendly and economical ways to reduce car travel,” Treat said.

If the prospect of changing your transportation habits feels daunting, the staff at Smart Trips can help you understand your options—and they’ll be the first to remind you that one smart trip at a time, every little bit helps. Find them at www.smart-trips.org to learn more.

To experience one of the collaborative planning models that will support the SPBP as it becomes reality, mark your calendar. On Sat., Apr. 25 from 12-4pm, the Friendly Streets Initiative (FSI) will co-host an event on the Griggs Pedestrian Bridge over I-94. This family-friendly event, part of FSI’s Better Bridges Plan, will give residents a chance to share their thoughts on how to improve the Hamline, Lexington and Griggs Bridges over the freeway, making them safer for cyclists and pedestrians.

Friendly Streets Initiative is a non-profit partnership whose mission is to engage St. Paul residents in transforming their neighborhoods. They do this by employing a variety of creative and interactive strategies. Executive director Lars Christensen said, “We’ve learned that if you want to have a good community conversation, you have to have fun!” To that effect, the Apr. 25 gathering will feature food, music, art-making and lots of conversation.

To see an example of their work in action, ride the Charles Ave. Bike Blvd. which runs four miles from Aldine to Park streets. The boulevard was conceived and built over the past four years and, pending final funding, will be completed this year. It sports safer crossings for cyclists and pedestrians, traffic-calming measures in the form of traffic circles instead of stop signs, stenciling on the streets to remind motorists that this is a bicycle boulevard, improved signage and more.

If all this talk about exercise is making you hungry, plan a visit to Trotter’s Cafe (232 Cleveland Ave. N.) where every Saturday night is Local’s Night from 5-8pm. Neighbors who live within 2 miles of the cafe get a 10% discount. Reduce your carbon footprint by walking, biking or busing to Trotter’s, and they’ll discount another 5%. There’s free music every Saturday from 6-8pm as well.

As the city moves into this new era of improved and sustainable transportation options, it becomes clear that not only is the physical infrastructure of St. Paul changing, but also the infrastructure of information and resources that support it.

Discovery Club