Open Streets Minneapolis – Nicollet Ave Review

Open Streets Minneapolis - Nicollet

Open Streets Minneapolis – Nicollet Ave

Another Open Streets Minneapolis event was a success. This one was Sunday on Nicollet Ave from Lake to 46th Street. There are a few different things I love about these events:

  1. They close off a major urban street to motorized vehicles
  2. They partner with places like Metro Transit by encouraging you to use sustainable transportation to get to and from
  3. It allows many sustainable neighborhood businesses and organizations to showcase themselves on the streets for thousands of people who may not have heard of them before

The partnership they have with Metro Transit is really slick. A big premise of these events is to promote sustainable transportation and it makes sense that they would partner to offer free bus and LRT rides to these events.

I showed this both to and from the event to the bus drivers from the phone. Initially, they didn’t really know what it was, looked at it for a few seconds then said “Great, you’re good to go”.

Free Metro Pass

Free Metro Pass for the Event

The bus I took was the 18 which dropped me off at Lake and Blaisdell. The route normally continues further down Nicollet Ave.

18 Bus Route

18 Bus Route

I did inquire about detours for events like this and got a well-informed answer. As well, I found a link to the detour page for the event at about the same time. From their site:

For the following route(s): 18.

Due to the Nicollet Ave Open Streets event, Nicollet Ave will be closed from 46th St to Lake St from 11 am – 6 pm on Sunday, Sept 14. Buses will detour as follows:

Southbound buses will travel regular route on Nicollet Ave to Lake St, left on Lake St, right on 4th Ave S, right on 46th St, left on Nicollet Ave and resume regular routing. Please board buses on Nicollet Ave & 46th St or on Lake St & 1st Ave S.

Northbound buses will travel regular route on Nicollet Ave to 46th St, right on 46th St, left on 4th Ave S, left on Lake St, right on 1st Ave S and resume regular routing. Please board buses on Nicollet Ave & 46th St or on 1st Ave S, just past Lake St.

Thank you for riding with us.

I learned some more about some other organizations and businesses that promote sustainable transportation. The folks at Nice Ride were there to inform people about their bike-sharing program. They had laptops for people to sign up in as little as 2 minutes. Plus, anyone who signed up that day received their choice of a free helmet or a sport-friendly backpack, both donning their logo. I have both, but can never have enough packs. I chose this.

Nice Ride Station

Nice Ride Tent at Open Streets

Many of us have used Nice Ride bikes before. It’s perfect for your shorter trips. Some like Ed Kohler have even taken the opportunity to hit all of them in one day for 2 years in row. Here’s a 3rd party blog post for a 2013 trek organized by Ed and a Strib article for his 2012 trip.

Ed did a great job on his The Deets blog and other social outlets to promote his 2012 trek including a (then) station map and even made a spreadsheet made from Google Sheets. As an added touch, he used the hashtags #nr145 and #nr170 on social media signifying how many respective Nice Ride stations there were at both times. The treks are a bit much for me, but was happy to offer Team Deets Gatorade and bananas at the Gateway Station along their way.

Go Team Deets

Go Team Deets!

Their station for the day was on Nicollet just south of 31st St.

Nice Ride Location

Nice Ride Location

Another impressive things about Nice Ride are the partnerships they have with other affiliations. Car2Go MSP happens to be a corporate sponsor and partnered with them on a social media contest to win a Minneapolis bike tour using their bikes.

Promotion for Nice Ride and Car2Go

Promotion for Nice Ride and Car2Go

I use Car2Go often. I do have a car, but bought it new in 2002. It still purrs like a kitten, yet now has over 135k on it. I’ll use it for going out of town, but car sharing is perfect for me when I want to take shorter trips on the grid. Their tent was on the corner of Nicollet and 44th.

Car2Go Location

Car2Go Location

Open Streets had a promotional tent for HourCar as well. I haven’t used it yet, but it does look intriguing as they had a booth around the corner of Nicollet and 38th.

HourCar Location

HourCar Location

HourCar Display

HourCar Display

It’s a similar program to Car2Go, but is unique in its own way. For one, they do have specific drop-off points instead of just dropping it off a meter or city street. Selfishly, it does appear that a pick-up and drop-off point happens to be just a block away outside my condo door.

Nearby HourCar Station

Nearby HourCar Pick-Up and Drop-Off

From a map view, it appears to be in the underground parking lot at Whole Foods Hennepin.

I did send them an inquiry as the map showed their stop which appeared at the underground lot, but their site mentions that their site is located on the street right by there on 2nd Ave North. Turns out they are in an open visitor parking garage right on the north end street level of the 222 Apartments, adjacent to Whole Foods.

Designated HourCar Location

Designated HourCar Location

Also, their vehicles are a step up from their counterparts using different Honda and Toyota models, as well as a select few others.

For their individual rate plans, it seems to be a bit cheaper than Car2Go, although there is a nominal monthly fee depending on how much you plan to use them. From talking to their booth rep, I was surprised to learn that they simply cover (for the most part) insurance.

It was intriguing to meet and talk to Dorian and the other folks at the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota as they had a tent and display just south of Nicollet and 38th.

Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota Location

Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota Location

Their motive is to educate bicyclists of all ages to safely navigate streets and trails along with vehicle traffic and pedestrians. They happen to have a bicycle safety curriculum for school age children to educate them to bike safely through their respective communities while learning general traffic rules and regulations. Here’s Dorian and Co. at Open Streets displaying their wheel o’ fun.

Dorian and Co.

Dorian and Co.

How about Free Bikes 4 Kidz? I heard of them for the first time while interacting with them at their location of Nicollet and right between 32nd and 33rd St.

Free Bikes for Kidz Location

Free Bikes for Kidz Location

They offered free bike repair just as a few other businesses and organizations did, and had a tent and display to promote their non-profit program including bike donations, volunteer opportunities.. They also promote Move MN, an initiative to improve our current transportation system.

They have some DIY fans, too. A retired man donated this tandem bike he tinkered with, as his wife can no longer ride. The Free Rides for Kidz folks gave it some additional décor.

Customized Tandem Bike

Customized Tandem Bike

I mentioned these folks from Bikeways for Everyone at the Open Streets Franklin event but they’re worth another mention as they had an impressive display.

Bikeways for Everyone

Bikeways for Everyone

A big initiative of theirs is to make more bike friendly lanes to bike safely along with vehicle traffic. One of their pushes is to implement protected, curbed bike lanes along major thoroughfares. I would absolutely love this. Minneapolis has made some great improvements with the green-striped painted bike lanes, although I have heard from a few people that as well as they work, the paint on the bike lanes can get slippery during rainy weather. Here’s a picture from a recent U of M walk on Church Street just south of University Ave SE. It happened to be sunny that day.

Green Painted Lane at the U

Green Painted Lane at the U

A few cracks, but it’s fine. I’m still certainly up for protected curbed bike lanes.

There were plenty of other places to visit as well including sustainable restaurants, bakeries, street art, ponies, camels, farmers market and live musicians. In addition to the free transit rides, the north end of the event is just a couple blocks south of the Greenway where you can access from many Minneapolis neighborhoods, and even as far away as Hopkins. Did you attend the event? Just let us know of your favorite places to visit and your ways to get there.

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