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Mpls, MN, United States

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Taking the long way

Today was a good day to be alive in Minneapolis. We had sunshine, and it hit 48 degrees! I rode my bike to Sally Beauty Supply, near Target, because I decided my hair needed to be redder.

Since it was Sunday and sunny and I wasn't in a hurry, I decided to try the Midtown Greenway Hiawatha Bridge for the first time. It officially opened a week or two ago, but I'd been feeling distinctly underwhelmed about it, as it struck me as offensively inefficient and basically useless for commuters. The old way to get across Hiawatha/Hwy 55 on the Greenway is roughly marked in red. Granted, one had to wait for the pedestrian signal; I was never willing to jaywalk across eight lanes of traffic (although others were). The new way is the bridge, marked in yellow. One still has to cross traffic, although it's only four (far less busy) lanes, and they have installed a nice crosswalk with flashing lights. Still, it's almost three times as long, and the ride is uphill.

I used to cross Hiawatha and pick up the Greenway (heading northwest) on the east side of Hiawatha to get to school, but it was torn up for a long time while the new bridge was going in, so I started taking the very wide sidewalk on the west side. It's also easier to exit from the sidewalk than it is from the Greenway when I get closer to campus. The best thing for me, so far, about the bridge, had been that it did let me cut the corner to and from Hiawatha (it's not very clear from my drawing, but instead of going up to cross the highway, you can go back down the hill to the sidewalk). But using it to cross the highway didn't seem worthwhile at all (especially because I'd have to backtrack so far on the east side--farther than I've made it look on the drawing).

But today I finally took the bridge, and had an epiphany. It could have been that the sun was out, that I wasn't freezing, and that I wasn't in a hurry to get anywhere, but I realized how much more enjoyable it was to cruise up above traffic than to wait at the traffic signal. From that height, I can escape the hemmed-in-ness that starts slowly to wear on my nerves in my everyday environment here--the feeling of being constantly surrounded by tall buildings and never getting to see the unbroken horizon. I figured the views must be okay, because there are lots of benches installed on the bridge (sunset over the city skyline is probably fairly impressive from there), but I was pretty much blown away at how good it felt just to be able to see out.

I'll be taking the bridge again.

Here's a little tour (picture yourself on a bicycle!):

And for perspective, bear in mind that Thursday, it looked like this:


Ellen said...

Is that a Santiago Calatrava bike bridge? If so, v. impressive.

Cerise said...

It isn't, but apparently he submitted a proposal for the I-35W bridge (and was rejected). The article was pretty interesting; I didn't realize the bike bridge was the state's first cable-stay. It continues to grow on me.

Angela said...

Hey, we have a Sally's Beauty Supply store near Target in Lincoln too. When I read that it made me think that perhaps you were here. That would nice. I'm walking about town today, taking the long way too, and in my mental discourse I asked you a few questions. I, however, did not answer for you.^^