A Sad Bike Route in Minneapolis

The danger of designating infrastructure is that it requires use and maintenance. Sometimes the infrastructure designated is not particularly useful or used. And lack of use makes it less useful for others, as it leads to entropy.

One such piece of infrastructure is a well-signed (though well-hidden) “bike route” in Prospect Park (map). Some is on-street. Some is off-street trail. Some is street-adjacent trail. I don’t know when it was installed, clearly sometime after I-94, and well before I arrived in the neighborhood in 2001. It has the feel of late 1960s design.

Note this route is not considered part of the “Existing Bicycle Network” despite the signage, according to the “Draft Protected Bikeway Update to the Minneapolis Bicycle Master Plan” (Figure 6). I wonder how many other such abandoned networks there are? I wonder what will remain in three decades after the current bicycle wave of popularity?

Some pictures below.

Bike Route, as  you exit Luxton Park. Freeway wall to the rear.

Bike Route, as you exit Luxton Park (on Williams Avenue). Freeway wall to the rear.

Good of them to put in a ramp to connect the bike lane to the street. It looks to be an afterthought. Like bicycles were supposed to jump the curb.

Good of them to put in a ramp to connect the bike lane to the street. It looks to be an afterthought. Like bicycles were supposed to jump the curb. (Connecting Williams to Arthur – not shown on Google maps)

This is the best image of nature taking its course. Arthur, along the Freeway. The Bike Route is clearly on the side of the road, but no one has successfully ridden this trail in years I imagine.

This is the best image of nature taking its course. Arthur, along the Freeway. The Bike Route is clearly on the side of the road, but no one has successfully ridden this trail in years I imagine.

In case it wasn't clear, this photo in the other direction, indicates the bike route (from Arthur) follows the asphalt between private property and Luxton Park. This part is actually well-maintained for a late-1960s/1970s trail, it makes a nice short-cut to the park. It is off-street, and very dark at night.

In case it wasn’t clear, this photo in the other direction, indicates the bike route (from Arthur toward Williams) follows the asphalt between private property and Luxton Park. This part is actually well-maintained for a late-1960s/1970s trail, it makes a nice short-cut to the park. It is off-street, and very dark at night.

The trail where Arthur meets Melbourne. I am not clear exactly what the signs are supposed to mean. I think one of them is turned around to confuse invading German tanks.

The trail where Arthur meets Melbourne. I am not clear exactly what the signs are supposed to mean. I think one of them is turned around to confuse invading German tanks.

This is another useful shortcut, between the freeway wall, Arthur, and connecting to Franklin Avenue. This gets some maintenance. It does not get cleared in the winter.

This is another useful shortcut, between the freeway wall, Arthur, and connecting to Franklin Avenue (which is shown on Google maps). This gets some maintenance. It does not get cleared in the winter.

The Bike Route here is designating that you should be riding on Franklin Avenue, not at off-street trail, not a side trail, not a cycle track.. It is aimed at people coming up Arthur from the I-94 Pedestrian Bridge connecting Prospect Park with East River Road.

The Bike Route here is designating that you should be riding on Franklin Avenue, not at off-street trail, not a side trail, not a cycle track.. It is aimed at people coming up Arthur from the I-94 Pedestrian Bridge connecting Prospect Park with East River Road.


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10 Responses to A Sad Bike Route in Minneapolis

  1. Eric Anondson
    Eric Anondson July 14, 2015 at 10:11 am #

    Nice routes are precious when you have them. I wonder if improved way finding would make a difference in use?

    I wonder if the city clears it in winter or is it even forgotten in that season. Are the neighbors who live along it actually happy it is forgotten so as to keep interlopers from outside the neighborhood from passing through?

    I guess though this route doesn’t link two places where people are often going between?

  2. Matt Steele
    Matt Steele July 14, 2015 at 10:55 am #

    There are no longer any customers on that ex-Milwaukee Road railroad spur in the Stadium Village area, right? Seems like that’s the best opportunity to upgrade this trail. There could be a trail on dedicated ROW between Stadium Village / Huron to Franklin by way of the back side of Luxton Park. This could be especially valuable if the Midtown Greenway ever crosses the river.

    • David Levinson
      David Levinson July 14, 2015 at 11:30 am #

      That’s the other side of I94, at least in part, so is a different market.

      [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

    • David Levinson
      David Levinson July 14, 2015 at 1:55 pm #

      Yes, though that is on the other side of I-94 (for a while) so serves a slightly different purpose. Certainly that should be acquired by the city. But Railroads.

  3. Clark Starr July 14, 2015 at 10:58 am #

    I grew up in Prospect Park and played youth sports at Luxton. The portion of the path that runs along the sound barriers was used a decent amount back then. Kids living east (north?) of Franklin and kids from the east river terrace neighborhood used it. If you continue across Franklin, you can hit the ped bridge over 94 and get to the river. Last time I was over there, the park looked a little neglected. I’m not sure how active it is now compared to the 70s.

    • David Levinson
      David Levinson July 14, 2015 at 11:32 am #

      The Luxton Park part is active, and the playground and fields get some use. Don’t see many kids using the section east of Luxton though

      [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

    • David Levinson
      David Levinson July 14, 2015 at 1:57 pm #

      Luxton park still gets use (my kids, some of the locals in Glendale, the local day cares), but the trails next and leading to it not so much as far as I can tell (I have not done an actual count).

  4. Max July 14, 2015 at 1:27 pm #

    Very similar to the I-35E path in stp that zigzags from Alaska and Albion (?) to Children’s Hospital. From Saint Clair to Grand its a straightforward path, but south of Saint Clair its on-street and off-street.

  5. Alex July 14, 2015 at 1:49 pm #

    I have used that route; it is the most direct way between Prospect Park and Stadium Village. It would seem closest to the greenway place type, with its combination of of on-street and off-street segments. Maybe it’s not “official” because they don’t have the right-of-way to upgrade the off-street segments to their standards (8′ width?)?

  6. Brian Krause August 5, 2015 at 9:17 am #

    There was a couch obstructing most of the trail a couple of years back. If memory serves it remained in place for a number of months but looks to have been moved now. That path is frequently very overgrown and does not seem to get a lot of attention from maintenance staff.