Nothing Says Spring Like Taking Out the Bike

City Biking Explained

Yesterday we rented a truck to deliver furniture to friends around town. We noticed some new street markings for bicycles that we hadn’t seen before. The meaning was not obvious. We had no idea what we were supposed to do. Today I found a couple of videos on the City of Minneapolis website explaining what these markings mean.

This first video explains bike lane markings. The second video explains bike boulevards (that’s what we came across in uptown.)

For those of us who haven’t done a lot of inner-city, heavy-traffic riding, the City is also offering a series of guided biking tours which will not only help you understand how to ride on city streets, but also provide a tour of various neighborhoods. There are tours for adults and for families.

And you won’t want to miss the free classes teaching you how to tune up your bike for the summer riding season.

Need a Bike But Can’t Afford One?

Check out Cycles for Change (formerly Sibley Bike Depot). Cycles for Change refurbishes used bikes and sells them at extremely affordable prices. You can talk to a bicycle mechanic for free and you can even earn a free bike in exchange for volunteer work.

One thing I LOVE about Cycles for Change is their sensitivity to the needs of women and youth. Ladies, have you ever walked into a bike shop and felt you entered a male-only club with a secret language? Cycles for Change works hard to create a safe space where women and girls — and transgendered persons — can feel comfortable coming to learn and work on bikes. They have set aside Tuesday work nights exclusively for women and transgender people (though women and transpeople are ALWAYS free to use the space on other nights).

I learned about Cycles for Change because they donate bikes to a group with which I volunteer. Low-income people encounter many problems with transportation, particularly in a city like ours with relatively poor public transportation offered at a very high cost. (I say poor because bus services are frequently cut back, service to suburbs is dismal, and the legislature regularly cuts funds from Metro Transit.)

A bike brings freedom. Biking and busing combined can bring greater access to jobs. Donating a bike to a low-income person can be life-changing.

Need a Bike Only Occasionally?

My pen pal for the past 25 years is coming to visit me from Australia. I’m thrilled! I can’t wait to show her my city. Biking is a great way to do that but she’s only here for a week so where can I get her a bike. Enter Nice Rides, the Twin Cities bike share program.

I’ve got a couple of options to pay for her to bike while she’s here. We can do a day-by-day subscription for $6 a day. If she’s here for 7 days, it’s cheaper to get a 30-day subscription for $30. In order to avoid a trip fee, we need to plan our bike trip so that we can check the bike in (and out again) every 30 minutes. I think this is rather ideal for a sight-seeing trip. For example, I know there is a Nice Ride park by the MIA and that’s about a 20 minute ride (for me) from my house. We can pick up a bike for her outside The Birchwood Cafe, only 6 blocks from my house. We can take the Greenway bike trail most of the way there. And if I’m too tired to bike back home after a long day at the art museum, we can walk to Lake St and put my bike on the front of a bus for the trip home. Her bike is stowed at the MIA lot – no need to return it to the Birchwood.

About thinkofitasanadventure

We are a 50-something couple living in the Longfellow neighborhood of Minneapolis. We attended a sustainability conference at our local high school in November 2010, with keynote speaker Richard Heinberg from the Post Carbon Institute. What we heard shocked us deeply. We finally understood the need to transition away from fossil fuels as quickly as possible. We immediately began to change the way we live. We joined together with other folks in our neighborhood to learn more, to do more and to have fun doing it! We're part of Transition Longfellow. We're choosing to change now and to "think of it as an adventure." If you are on this journey too, we'd love to hear from you.
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