Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Bikers Reclaim Lowry Avenue, Sort Of...

Photo By Jeff Skrenes

Hawthorne Housing Director Jeff Skrenes participated in a recent biking event to "reclaim" Lowry Avenue, which has been shut down for ages, but by the time the bike ride kicked off Lowry Avenue was already open to vehicular traffic. Jeff gives a firsthand report as follows...

Officer Mark Klukow led a group of intrepid NoMi residents and other active folks along a bike ride up and down the newly finished Lowry Avenue on Saturday morning. The event started with a brief discussion about how people decided to set up the event. Originally, the point was going to be to "reclaim" Lowry in a way, since the construction had shut down a stretch of the road. Organizers thought it would be good to begin using the road even if vehicular traffic couldn't yet.

Alas, revitalization is coming to NoMi at an ever-increasing pace, and Lowry Avenue construction was finished early enough that this aspect became a moot point. So we biked down a fully finished Lowry Ave.

Before striking off, a few of us posed for photos. Free T-shirts were distributed that encourage daily exercise, and a brief speech on bike safety was given.

If you show up and volunteer in NoMi, chances are you'll get a free T-shirt (Flow, Rebuilding Together, NCRC foreclosure prevention doorknocking, various political rallies, etc). This is a great way to kill not two, but three birds with one stone. You make your neighborhood better, you get a free wardrobe out of it, and then later, everywhere you go you become a walking
billboard for neighborhood revitalization.

One person also noted that 40 percent of all trips in Minneapolis are 2 miles or less, and how much of a difference it would make if we could start biking and walking those trips. Our roadways would be less congested, we'd do less damage to our planet, we'd spend less on gas money, and we'd be healthier. For most of these very short trips, there isn't a significant difference in time taking a car vs. biking.

And we were off! We let the slowest person dictate the pace so we'd stay together. One thing I always appreciate about biking is how much more you feel a part of the environment or community you're passing through. In Robert Pirsig's "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance," he talks about how the car windshield acts as a de facto television set, and it makes you feel disconnected. Biking is to driving as having a face-to-face conversation is to watching "Dancing with the Stars."

We coasted downhill to the Lowry Bridge, and waited there for everyone to catch up. Even waiting at the end was a reminder of the change coming to NoMi. Let's hope the bridge looks as gorgeous as the model on the sign. People are going to love coming to NoMi even more.

I left and headed home since I live so close to our ending point, but there was talk of making biking events like this a regular activity throughout NoMi. It's a great way to promote our assets like Theo Wirth and Victory Memorial Parkways, and our coming attractions like the 26th Ave Greenway.

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