Sierra Club North Star’s 25th Annual Bike Ride Tour

On a brisk and beautiful National Public Lands Day (Saturday, September 24, 2022), the Sierra Club North Star Chapter partnered with Slow Roll MSP for a bike tour of North Minneapolis, with a focus on the challenges and victories of equitable transportation planning in and around the neighborhood. More than 50 people met up for the 15-mile loop, with stops to highlight Bring Back 6th, the Blue Line Extension, the new Great Northern Greenway Overlook, Metro Transit Micro service and more!

Pre-ride meetup at La Doña Cervecería, photo by Devon Young Cupery

After a quick cup of coffee, the guest speaker series began with City Councilmember Jeremiah Ellison and Minnesota State Senator Bobby Joe Champion (DFL-St. Paul) giving an overview of North Minneapolis, focusing on the environmental injustices seen over the decades and some of the hard fought victories for which Northside residents have been fighting.

Slow Roll MSP‘s Anthony Taylor laid out the plan for the route, preparing us to “see the beauty of North Minneapolis and Near North. We’re going to see how North Minneapolis was built with intentionality.”

Slow Roll was founded in Detroit in 2010, as “a fun, safe, and inclusive bike ride for people of all ages and skill levels. The goal of Slow Roll Twin Cities is to highlight the amazing cities in which we live and to bring our community together for a weekly community ride. Everyone is welcome at Slow Roll, and we take it slow so that there’s never any pressure to keep up and there’s plenty of time to meet other riders and see our cities.”

Anthony Taylor of Slow Roll MSP chats with the group about the history of North Minneapolis and tree canopy disparity in communities of color. Photo by Joshua Houdek

“People who bike know the texture of the street in the community,” Anthony Taylor explained. “That is why a bike tour connects perfectly with what we were learning about”.

Alex Burns with Our Streets Minneapolis spoke on the Bring Back 6th campaign. Olson Memorial Highway (or Highway 55) was constructed via the destruction of 6th Avenue North, a corridor of homes and businesses in a primarily Black and Jewish neighborhood. Our Streets, the Harrison Neighborhood Association and the University of Minnesota Heritage Studies Program have been working together on the campaign to envision a safer, more inclusive corridor to better serve the community. (For more on Urban Highway Removal and Bring Back 6th, check out this podcast episode).

Meeting near the future Blue Line Extension North Memorial LRT station site. Photo by Christina Neel

One of the final stops before heading back to La Doña was the overlook at 26th Avenue North. Joshua Houdek from the Sierra Club North Star Chapter mentioned that historically, Northside has virtually zero access to the river. The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board lists the Overlook as part of “RiverFirst, a generational vision for transforming 11 miles of once-industrial Mississippi Riverfront into a welcoming place for all people through improved habitat and miles of new interconnected parks and trails.”

Meredith Klekotka, the Shared Mobility Program Manager with Metro Transit, introduced us to Metro Transit micro. Micro is a new on-demand ride service within a 2.5-square-mile area in North Minneapolis. For the same fare as any Metro Transit bus (with free transfers to another bus or LRT route), anyone can call for a ride pickup, or order in the free app on the App Store or Google Play. The 12-month pilot program began September 10, 2022, with plans to extend another 12 months and an expanded service area if demand is strong.

One of the many families who joined the ride. Photo by Devon Young Cupery

Alexis Pennie spoke about bike lanes and bike paths/trails within North Minneapolis, including a trail connection called the Northside Greenway. The project includes a North-South bikeway, traffic calming and pedestrian improvements. As of this post, the project is in the public engagement and design phases, pending grant funds. Maps, estimated timelines and how to get involved can be found at the link above.

For another look at North Minneapolis through the eyes of a bicycle tour, check out the Northside Rambler event article from this past August. That ride focused on history, arts, music, architecture and intersectionality within the Northside community.

Members of the Slow Roll MSP team leading the 15 mile ride. Photo by Devon Young Cupery

This ride was the Sierra Club North Star Chapters 25th annual Bike Tour, organized by its Land Use and Transportation campaign. Here is a Tour de Tours map showing all previous routes.

What is Sierra Club North Star Chapter?
From their About page: The Sierra Club North Star Chapter is 50,000 Minnesotans empowered to protect our communities’ well-being through environmental protection. Their core values are rooted in: Environmental & Social Justice, Volunteer Leadership & Professional Expertise, and Grassroots Advocacy.

What you can do:

  1. Participate in the Investing in North Minneapolis Co-Design Event: Saturday, October 15, 10:00am-4:00pm, Farview Park
  2. Click and send a quick message to President Biden: Protect 30 percent of our nation’s public lands and waters by 2030.
  3. Join another Sierra Club Outing – All are welcome!

About Christina Neel

Pronouns: she/her

Christina moved to the Twin Cities from the Florida Keys in 2021 and fell completely in love with the area. She works as a City and Regional Planner and spends her days biking, singing, and hanging out with her cat named California. Events Committee volunteer