Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Urban Bike: Car-Free Minneapolis Bridges

Irene Hixon Whitney Bridge. 
Below me sixteen lanes of traffic roar.

I'm standing on the Irene Hixon Whitney Bridge, one of many Minneapolis bridges I cannot cross in a car. The bridge takes me between two parks: Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and Loring Park.

Loring Park.
In Loring Park, the zig-zag approach to this old bridge tells me I'm welcome on foot, not bicycle. Better to dismount.

Sometimes I cross bridges where both cyclists and pedestrians are not welcome: bridges with defaced no-trespassing signs, low guard rails, no guard rails, live rail track, gaps between rotting and fire-damaged boards.

Northern Pacific-BNSF.
On days when railroad workers are on this Mississippi bridge I avoid eye contact as I wheel my bicycle slowly across.

Further downriver, a former railroad bridge connects Boom and Nicollet Islands.

Between Boom Island and Nicollet Island.
I cross, then veer off the trail to an abandoned trestle above a fork of the Mississippi. A freight train waits for the dispatcher in Fort Worth, Texas to give the go-ahead.

Abandoned spur trestle converging on BNSF bridge.
Back on an official trail, I cross a hydroelectric plant's raceway.

Bridge at Hennepin Island Hydroelectric Plant.
Next, I weave around pedestrians on Stone Arch Bridge as I imagine arriving in Minneapolis by steam train.

Stone Arch Bridge.
At the University of Minnesota I wobble across the Big M suspension bridge with its warped, heaving planks.

Big M Bridge, University of Minnesota.
Below, I see parked freight cars and cyclists on the Dinkytown Greenway.

Then, it's back across the Mississippi on yet another repurposed railroad bridge.

Northern Pacific Bridge Number 9
I work my way to the Midtown Greenway where I cut a westerly path across south Minneapolis.

It's easy to miss seeing the first two bridges on the Midtown Greenway.

Midtown Greenway at 36th and 31st Avenues
My final no-car bridge, the Martin Olav Sabo, seems flamboyant after these modest bridges. The suspension bridge curves over a highway and light rail lines.

Martin Olav Sabo Bridge.
Almost immediately, the path continues below grade.

I enjoy a coffee and muffin in a bicycle shop in the trench on the bike path, hidden from car-world above.

Freewheel Midtown Bike Center.
I spread a cycle map on the table and spot more car-free bridges on the 92 miles of off-street bikeways of Minneapolis.

Note: I'll update the above map with more car-free bridges.

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