Tagtrails

Video of the South Shore Line train at Chicago Botanic Garden

I took the UP-North Metra train to Braeside and biked ~1 mile (less than that on city roads) to the Chicago Botanic Garden. I saw a sign for “Model Railroad Garden”, asked a staffer where it was, and immediately made my way there to pay $6 to see the most wonderful garden in the region.

I was here for four hours. Four of my friends then showed up halfway through (they biked from Chicago and had equipment troubles). Afterward, we biked on the Green Bay Trail and Robert McClory Bike Path north to Lake Bluff, Illinois, to eat at Pasta Palooza and drink three growlers from Lake Bluff Brewing Company next door (I added it to OSM today). Their beer is good and it only costs $15 to fill up a growler! (Don’t forget to bring more beer for the Metra ride home.)

The state of bike path signage in Illinois is pretty abysmal and that was made very clear when the RMBP transitioned from the southeast side of an intersection to the northwest side of an intersection (see it on OpenStreetMap). What happened? Well, we were traveling northbound and a sign said “Robert McClory Bike Path; Ends”. This is patently false. The named path keeps going north. There was barely enough visibility to see that there was a “Bike Route [this way>]” sign on the opposite corner of the intersection. Google Maps for iOS verified that this kept us going to our destination.

View more photos from the Model Railroad Garden.

Amtrak “speeding” down the track. This was an interesting model: it’s articulated and electric, a trainset type that Amtrak doesn’t run. 

N.B. This trip is telling me to expand the Chicago Bike Guide map to include at least this far north. The map currently extends to Wilmette. However, there’s a tradeoff: when I extend the map, the file size increases.

What’s up with bicycling in Minneapolis, part 1

I present you a synopsis on what I observed about bicycling in Minneapolis. I visited the city (surfing someone’s couch) over the Labor Day weekend, rented a bike, rode the train and spent 9 non-stop hours exploring the city.

Sorry if it seems I only noticed the off-street trails and paths. Please read my experience in two parts, part 1 below:

  • Residents like trails. Trails connect residents to suburbs, several neighborhoods, cut across the city, get bicyclists downtown, to the light rail, and help preserve open space. Many of the trails are converted railroad rights of way. Some of the railroads are still active. I liked seeing railroads and bicyclists and other trail users traveling together. I wish I had
  • Hennepin County takes care of the trails. The trails’ pavement quality and their signage exhibited supreme guardianship. The designers of the trails obviously went to great lengths to keep low the number of bicyclist-pedestrian conflicts, provided restrooms, and when most convenient for riders, made a trail carry only one-way traffic (a loop around the Lake of the Isles).
  • I enjoyed Minneapolis’s crown jewel trail: the Midtown Greenway. I liked not only how the trail stretches uninterrupted (save for one at-grade street crossing) for 5 miles, but also the respect citizens give it. The 20+ (what’s the official count?) bridges crossing the Greenway give users a neat view.
  • Minneapolis has implemented several ways to remove conflicts between bicyclists and pedestrians and bicyclists and motorists. The Martin Sabo bridge over Hiawatha Avenue and the Hiawatha segment of Metro Transit’s light rail lets trail users ride continuously from trail to trail, making the connections easily, quickly and best of all safely.

Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3.

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