Five Nice Things about the new Minneapolis Bike Map

I just got my hands on the new official City of Minneapolis Bicycle Map. I've looked at my fair share of bicycle maps over the years, and want to point a few of the nice features of this version.

#1) The "Low-Stress Network"

[The key.]
One of the policy goals for Minneapolis has been to create a city-wide system of bike routes that don't require riders to be in the middle of traffic all the time, surrounded by honking horns, weaving traffic, and car fumes. That's why they city has been building bike boulevards to complement the existing recreational trails, and why the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition has been pushing hard to advocate for protected lanes (cycletracks). (So far, thanks to Hennepin County, with little luck.)

The result of this is the "low-stress" network on the new map. I really like the name, particularly beacuse it doens't make assumptions that people who enjoy riding on less-trafficked trails are "beginners", "recreational riders", or "families." Just because you avoid dodging bumpers and fenders doesn't mean you're ineadequate.

["Low stress" Bryant, Greenway...]

#2) Includes All Parts of the City

[North Minneapolis.]
One of the problems with the Twin Cities' other bicycle map is that it cuts off a few key neighborhoods, like North Minneapolis or the East Side. Here, though, all parts of Minneapolis are easily found.

(Granted Minneapolis proper is rectangular shaped, which makes it much easier.)

#3) Lots of Insets

[The University campus inset.]
Bicycling and its complexity aren't homogenous across space. Certain places are incredibly complicated (e.g. the University of Minnesota campus) while most of the rest of the city is pretty straightforward. Any good map has to balance between a focus on these problem spots and spatial comprehensiveness for the whole city. This Minneapolis map has five special inset zones, including such obscure ones as the Camden bridge and the Bryn-Mawr Parade.

#4) Riding Safety Visuals

[Don't get hit by a truck!]
Bicycling safety instruction can quickly go overboard and start to ruin all the fun, i.e.  the entire reason people ride bicycles in the first place. This version of the Minneapolis map barely includes any ridiculous suggestions (e.g. vehicular cycling) and instead focuses on the important things. For example, it includes a great illustration of the turning radius for a semi-truck, and a good description of how to lock up your bike.

[Locking 101.]

#5) Links and References

[Props for props.]
Props for the shout out to Saint Paul "our neighbor to the east." (Enough said about that, though a link to the Bike Coalition website would be nice.) The map also includes the parts beyond the edge of the city including Golden Valley, Robbinsdale, Roseville, etc. Bicycling doesn't end at the Minneapolis border.

There are lots of good and bad ways to make maps. I think this latest one from the city is pretty good.

[Blurry Saint Paul.]


Alex said...

We are lucky to have Hedberg Maps here in town to give us one of, if not the best bike map in the country.

I like the low-stress network addition too, but to quibble somewhat I'd say it should be called the lowER-stress network, because it features some streets (such as 2nd St NE or 5th St SE east of 15th) that are still fairly stressful, but are often less stressful than alternatives. But I also wonder how they chose which streets would be in this network, since I live on one (Pleasant) that is actually more stressful than other nearby side streets (such as Garfield/Harriet).

Minneapolis Bike Ped Section said...

The Low-Stress network was thought of as a way of depicting streets that have existing lower-stress bicycle infrastructure (such as bicycle boulevards), as well as streets that we would like to add to a growing network of places more comfortable for a wider range of riders. Some streets (such as Pleasant Ave S) are planned bike boulevards in the Bicycle Master Plan. We don't have a project date for Pleasant, but the ultimate goal would be that the street become a bike boulevard or another type of facility with bicycle-specific accommodation and a high degree of comfort.

We want the bike map to be one of the tools that helps people to start riding, and having low-stress routes is part of that puzzle.