The Midtown Greenway is an amazing 5.5 mile former railroad corridor cutting across south Minneapolis that was turned into a barrier-free bike and pedestrian trail. It extends from the lakes area between Lake Calhoun and Lake of the Isles all the way to the Mississippi River at W River Parkway and E 27th Street.
When the Milwaukee Railroad built this major rail corridor in 1882 it was on the southern fringe of Minneapolis, but now it cuts through the heart of south Minneapolis paralleling Lake Street and serving a very ethnically and economically diverse community.
In 1912 the rail line was placed in a trench below street level between Hennepin and Cedar Avenues. Today this makes the Greenway the quickest way to travel east-west across the city without the annoyance of street traffic… and creates a true bike/pedestrian freeway, complete with on-off ramps and signs showing connections and distances to connecting trails and destinations. In addition to the 'trench' providing safe passage under I-35W, the new Martin Olav Sabo Bridge now provides safe passage over busy Hiawatha Avenue, which is located where the trail rejoins street level at 28th Avenue and is dangerous to cross.
Businesses line Lake Street paralleling Midtown Greenway to the south, and Midtown Bike Center on the Greenway near Midtown Exchange makes me think of a bike oasis… it is a full service bike transportation station right on the greenway, complete with long/short term bike storage, bike rentals, public shop for doing your own bike maintenance, bike supplies and service, public restrooms and showers, cafe… who could ask for anything more!
Several thousand people use the Greenway every day for both commuting to work (yes, it is even used in the winter!) and for recreation and is likely a contributing factor to Minneapolis being consistently named the most bike friendly city in the country. The Greenway trails are plowed all winter, lit at night and open 24/7.
Want to live near the Midtown Greenway? Look for homes along the Lake Street corridor, the Greenway is about a block north most of the time, finishes at 27th Street and E River Road.
- PedalMN.com – new guide to Minnesota bike trails and communities
- Nice Ride Minnesota – the nation's largest bike sharing system
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