MINNEAPOLIS -- Minneapolis now has its first bicycle boulevard.
Just in time for summer, pedalers and pedestrians now have more miles of roads to roll and walk on.
The new RiverLake Greenway opened Saturday connecting the Mississippi River to Lake Harriet providing a safer route through South Minneapolis.
And making a bigger noise than just cards in the bike spokes, the Sabathanites Drum Corps helped open the new the RiverLake Greenway during a grand opening celebration outside Minnehaha Academy.
According to Bike Walk Twin Cities, it's a bike route meant for everyone from the youngest to the more mature, the recreational rider to the serious commuter.
At the grand opening, Senator Amy Klobuchar said of bicycling, "It's not just a hobby, it's really a way of exercising and it's really a way of life."
The greenway, running along 42nd Street and then 40th Street, will now take bicyclists from other bike routes at the Mississppi River to the Chain of Lakes more safely.
And it is the first bicycle boulevard in the city of Minneapolis.
Those with Bike Walk Twin Cities say a bicycle boulevard is designed to put pedestrians and bicyclists first instead of motorists.
Bicycles painted on the pavement let motorists know they're sharing the road. Commuter and recreational rider Rebecca Gomez who lives near the RiverLake Greenway said, "It's slowed down traffic. It's made it safer for my kids and all my neighbors' kids to ride."
Even more notable, there are specially controlled intersections, one where 40th Street intersects with Cedar Avenue and another at Chicago Avenue.
Joan Pasiuk, director of Bike Walk Twin Cities said, "Bicycles will be easily able to go through the intersection but drivers would be more restricted."
A key feature of the bicycle boulevard, there are two lanes, one going east and another going west just for bicyclists where 40th intersects with Cedar Avenue. And there is just one lane for motor vehicle traffic which must turn right. It may take some time for motorists to get used to.
Our camera caught one car on tape that should have taken a right but instead took an illegal left.
But Les Johnson who has been using this route to ride with his grandkids even before the changes said drivers are catching on. He said, "I love to bike, they like to ride and it just gives us a little safer area to ride."
Pasiuk with Bike Walk Twin Cities says the five-mile RiverLake Greenway, funded mostly by federal funds, is just part of a growing network of 75 miles of bike and pedestrian friendly routes for commuters and recreational bicyclists.
Click here for a map of the new RiverLake Greenway.
(Copyright 2011 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)