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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I ride my bike frequently (900 miles the past two summers), so I'd be interested to see what other midwestern cities' bike path systems are like.

Here's an article on the Grand Rounds in Minneapolis:

http://www.twincities.com/mld/twincities/news/columnists/14445282.htm
Grand Rounds
In Minneapolis, bicyclists soak up the scenery along a breathtaking national byway.
BETH

GAUPER

For more than a century, people have marveled at the Chain of Lakes in Minneapolis.

It's not so much the beauty of the lakes, though they're glorious. It's more the fact that ordinary folk can walk, bike, swim and play around them — all of them.

It almost wasn't so. Back in 1882, landscape architect Horace Cleveland had to argue his case for putting aside land on the city's lakes, creeks and river.

"Look forward a century, to the time when the city has a population of a million, and think what will be their wants,'' he wrote. "They will have wealth enough to purchase all that money can buy, but all their wealth cannot purchase a lost opportunity, or restore natural features of grandeur and beauty, which would then possess priceless value …"

The city did buy land for parkways and boulevards, enough to put every home in Minneapolis within six blocks of green space, and we're enjoying it today — all million of us, it often seems on summer weekends.

Lined with bike trails, beaches, canoe rentals, band shells, golf courses and picnic pavilions, it's often called the best urban park system in America. Lately, it has just been getting better.

In 1998, the Grand Rounds, the walking/biking/driving route that follows the parkways in a big circle around the city, was named a national scenic byway. Since then, signposts and kiosks have been going up along the 53-mile route, the only urban national byway, and commuter bicycle trails have made it easier to reach by bike.

There's a still a 2½-mile gap on the northeast side of the "rounds,'' where the parkways run out. But last fall, the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board extended the paved trail through Memorial Parkway and Webber Parkway, giving bicyclists a good reason to explore north Minneapolis.

For bicyclists, riding the Grand Rounds is unmatched adventure. I've ridden the southern half many times, following the path down the Mississippi to Minnehaha Park and between lakes Hiawatha and Nokomis before ducking into the enchantingly shady and secluded section along Minnehaha Creek between Portland Avenue and Lake Harriet. Heading north along the shores of Lake Calhoun and Lake of the Isles, I've often returned home on city streets, riding through the Sculpture Garden, Loring Park and downtown if it's a quiet Sunday.

But now, we can use the new Midtown Greenway, a below-street bicycle superhighway that parallels 29th Street. Last summer, I used it to return from a ride to Hopkins, which is linked to Lake Calhoun by the Cedar Lake Trail, which also connects the lakes to downtown Minneapolis.

And last Sunday, I made it the first leg of a 24-mile trip to the north part of the Grand Rounds, which is just as lovely as and perhaps more interesting than the lakes section. Riding west under the many concrete bridges of the Greenway, I emerged to street level in Uptown and stopped to have a strawberry-peach smoothie on Lake Calhoun at Tin Fish, the seafood restaurant in the refectory, and watch the swirl of bicyclists, skaters, dog-walkers, kayakers and runners.

From Lake Calhoun, I rode along the west side of Cedar Lake, still lined with cedar trees, and past Brownie Lake before plunging into Theodore Wirth Park, where the Swiss-born dean of Minneapolis parks is honored with a bronze statue, hand in hand with a bronze child, in front of the chalet.

Riding up to the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary, I took an hour to roam the paths, lined by clumps of lovely purple trillium, yellow trout lilies, skunk cabbage, Virginia bluebells and other more common spring flowers; for a while, I tagged along on a naturalist-led walk.

There were hikers in the Quaking Bog, golfers on the two courses, mountain bikers on the new off-road trails — everyone was out in the big park, which is 60 percent as large as New York's Central Park.

All along the route, I'd been seeing people poring over the maps posted on the new Grand Rounds kiosks. At the north end of Wirth, that's where I met Joe McCoy and Kim Pikula, who had bicycled down from the trails along Shingle Creek Parkway.

"This is my first time out this spring, and I forgot how much fun bicycling is,'' McCoy said. "It's a lot more pleasurable than getting in a car, and this is such a great park system.'' But he didn't think he'd do the whole Grand Rounds, at least not that day.

"Fifty miles, I don't know if I'm up for that,'' he said, joking. "Maybe in 10 years. When I'm in my wheelchair.''

In North Minneapolis, the new Grand Rounds path occupies part of arrow-straight Victory Memorial Parkway, where 568 trees were planted after World War I to honor fallen Hennepin County soldiers. Unlike the rest of the Grand Rounds, the parkway doesn't follow a river, creeks or lakes; its wide-open green spaces were meant to serve as a firebreak. Lined by tidy Tudor-style homes, the route continues on Webber Parkway before crossing the Mississippi on the Camden Bridge, beneath which paved trails head north through bottomlands to North Mississippi Regional Park.

On the east side of the river, the Grand Rounds continues on St. Anthony Parkway to Columbia Golf Course and little Deming Heights Park, which boasts the city's highest elevation. It heads south on Stinson Parkway, where bicyclists may feel squeezed by car traffic, to the Quarry shopping area, where bicyclists must continue on an even-busier stretch of Stinson before reaching the relatively quieter streets of the University of Minnesota area (see Tricky bits, below).

I drove that stretch last September, but last Sunday, I biked on another route, following Marshall Street Northeast past the Xcel Energy plant to Marshall Terrace Park, where families were picnicking overlooking the river. At the handsomely preserved 1891 Grain Belt Brewery, I took quiet streets (see Planning a route, below) straight into Boom Island Park, where the Mississippi Queen paddle wheeler gives narrated lock cruises through St. Anthony Falls. From Boom Island, the trail crosses two trestle bridges, one onto Nicollet Island and another to St. Anthony Main, whose renovated brick storefronts led the river renaissance in the 1970s.

This is the most historic part of the city, a romantic destination since Father Hennepin wrote about it in his 1683 best-seller "Description de la Louisiane.'' Tourists came with the first steamboats in the 1820s and were followed by Yankee entrepreneurs. Soon, mills had harnessed the roaring falls; until World War I, Minneapolis was the largest producer of flour in the nation.

Today, parkland and beautiful trails line both sides of the four-mile loop from the Plymouth Avenue Bridge to J.J. Hill's graceful Stone Arch Bridge, once slated for demolition but now the most beloved pedestrian thoroughfare in town. On the west side of the river, the Minnesota Historical Society operates the Mill City Museum at Mill Ruins Park. Next to it, the Grand Rounds passes under the cantilevered lobby of the new Guthrie Theater, its shimmering dark-blue facade embossed with towering images of George Bernard Shaw, Eugene O'Neill, Anton Chekhov and four other playwrights.

On the university campus, the Grand Rounds follows both sides of the river, the east sporting the brassy Weisman Art Museum and the west the subdued glass flank of the Ted Mann Concert Hall. At the St. Paul border, bicycle trails continue to the Ford Parkway Bridge, but the Grand Rounds stops in its tracks; ironically, landscape architect Cleveland envisioned Minneapolis parkways that would link with those in St. Paul, whose parks he also helped design.

Still, Horace Cleveland would have been very pleased to see the degree to which Minneapolis heeded his advice.

"It is pretty cool," says Richard Fred Arey of St. Paul, who founded the popular St. Paul Classic bike ride in 1995 and is helping develop a Grand Round for St. Paul. "The fact that they've been working on it for 100 years has really paid off."

Beth Gauper, who writes about regional travel, can be reached at 651-228-5425, [email protected].

Trip Tips: Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway

Maps: An updated Grand Rounds map should be ready by the end of May, with free copies available at the Longfellow House in MInnehaha and at rec centers and refectories along the route. There's also a map at www.minneapolisparks. org and maps on kiosks all along the route. And Richard Fred Arey's handy "Twin Cities Bicycling" ($16.95, Minnesota Outdoors Press) contains a detailed, full-page map for the Grand Rounds and each of the many other rides. It's available in bookstores.

Planning a route: The entire route is 53 miles, but that includes the Minneapolis side of East River Parkway, the loops around Lake Nokomis and Lake of the Isles, the west sides of lakes Harriet and Calhoun and short spurs to two golf courses. If you subtract those lovely but extraneous stretches and just keep going, you'll ride a streamlined route of 31 miles.

Of course, to close the loop, you'll need to ride another 2½ miles from the Quarry to the river through the University of Minnesota campus, for a total of 55½ or 33½ miles.

Using the Midtown Greenway as a short cut, however, allows riders to create two other routes, 17 and 24 miles without the extra loops and spurs. Plan to spend up to six hours riding each route, with stops to eat and sightsee.

The southern part of the Grand Rounds, following the river and Chain of Lakes, can be turned into a 17-mile loop by using the new Midtown Greenway, a below-street trench that parallels 29th Street from Lake Calhoun to Hiawatha Avenue; from there, take 26th Street to the river.

To turn the northern part of the Grand Rounds into a 24-mile loop, ride across town on the Midtown Greenway to Lake Calhoun and head north. But after crossing the Mississippi to St. Anthony Parkway, continue south on Marshall Street, riding on the rarely used sidewalk; from Lowry to Broadway, ride in the wide parking lane. At Broadway, turn west for half a block and take the sidewalk across from Bottineau Community Library to quiet Ramsey Street and on to Eighth Avenue. Head one block west and turn into Boom Island Park, where a paved path goes straight to a trestle bridge. Cross the bridge and ride onto Nicollet Island, where the 1887 Merriam Street trestle bridge crosses to the St. Anthony Main area. At Father Hennepin Park, cross the Stone Arch Bridge and continue down the west side of the river.

Tricky bits: It's easy to follow the well-marked bike route, but there are a few tricky bits.

At the north end of Lake Calhoun, several commuter trails converge. To head north on the Grand Rounds, ride a block on Dean Parkway, then take Cedar Lake Road up the west side of Cedar Lake. (An alternative is to take the Kenilworth Trail up the east side of Cedar Lake, then head west on the Cedar Lake Trail to meet the Grand Rounds as it heads toward Wirth Park.)

To close the loop in Northeast Minneapolis, keep going on busy Stinson Boulevard across East Hennepin, where Stinson turns into 18th Avenue. Turn west onto Como, then south on 15th Avenue at Van Cleve Park. Keep going on 15th past Dinkytown and into the University of Minnesota campus to Pleasant Street. To continue on the west side of the river, cross the Washington Avenue Bridge; to continue on the east, turn right onto Arlington Street, before the bridge.

Highlights: At the east end of the Washington Avenue Bridge, stop by the stainless steel Weisman Art Museum; admission is free. In Minnehaha Park, see Minnehaha Falls. For a cool dip, stop at the beaches of Nokomis, Harriet, Calhoun and Cedar. See the Rose Garden at Lake Harriet. In Wirth Park, take a stroll in the Quaking Bog or Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden; on weekends, naturalists lead walks. Visit the 1857 Lady of Lourdes Church up the steps from Main Street on the east riverfront. Ride across the Stone Arch Bridge and past the Mill City Museum and the new Guthrie Theater.

Where to eat: When it's a beautiful day for bicycling, it's a beautiful day for eating outdoors, too. Each of the restaurants has an outdoor patio.

At East Lake Street and West River Parkway, the Longfellow Grill specializes in elaborate burgers but has all kinds of fun food. It's open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, 612-721-2711, www.longfellowgrill.com.

In the 1905 refectory in Minnehaha Park, Sea Salt serves inexpensive seafood, such as soft-shelled crab sandwiches and oyster po' boys. It's open daily for lunch and dinner, 612-721-8990.

On the beach on the north end of Lake Nokomis, the concessionaire serves ice cream and snacks.

A block south of Minnehaha Creek on Nicollet, Liberty Frozen Custard serves great homemade ice cream and Italian ices as well as sandwiches, soups and salads in a fun 1950s-style former gas station. It's open daily for lunch and dinner, 612-823-8700.

At the refectory on Lake Calhoun, Tin Fish serves smoothies and ice cream as well as quesadillas, burgers and seafood tacos, chowders, sandwiches and platters. It's open daily for lunch and dinner, 612-823-5840, www.thetinfish.net.

If you need a snack, the Northway Deli at North Memorial Medical Center is open daily.

At the northernmost point on the route, a block south of Memorial Parkway at 44th and Penn, Rix Bar & Grill is a new neighborhood joint that serves salads, burgers and entrees. It's open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday, 612-588-2228, www.rixbargrill.com.

There's a Subway at the east end of Webber Parkway; for a picnic, buy some sandwiches and take them to eat at the river overlook in Marshall Terrace Park, on the east side of the river off Marshall Street.

Just south of Lowry Avenue, the small but sophisticated Sample Room is a good place to stop for one of its many small plates or for salads, sandwiches and entrees. It's open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday and for brunch and dinner on Sunday, 612-789-0333.

In the St. Anthony Main area, bicyclists can eat outdoors at Pracna, Aster Cafe, Vic's and Tuggs Tavern.

For people who ride the entire route and return to the river via 15th Avenue Southeast, Dinkytown has many places to eat, including the Loring Pasta Bar, which has charming sidewalk tables.

Just off the Greenway on Lyndale, Vera's Cafe is a good spot for a bite and also supports the lovely greenway garden just below it.

Music: On summer Sundays, time a bike trip to coincide with a 2:30 or 5:30 p.m. concert at the Lake Harriet Bandshell. Concerts are held daily on other evenings, generally at 7:30 p.m. Regular concerts and theater performances also are held in Minnehaha Park and occasionally in the Rose Garden; for a schedule, check www.minneapolisparks. org.

From June 2 through Aug. 27, free concerts are given at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 5 p.m. Sunday in the courtyard between Vic's and Tuggs Tavern at St. Anthony Main. For a schedule, go to www.saintanthonymain.com.

Events: May 19-21, Art-A-Whirl studio and gallery tour along Marshall Street and nearby in Northeast Minneapolis, www.artawhirl.com. June 17-18, Stone Arch Festival of the Arts, www. stonearchfestival.com. June 24, One River Mississippi dance performance around the Stone Arch Bridge, www. onerivermississippi.org. June 25, Guthrie Theater Community Opening and Fireworks Display www.guthrietheater.org. July 4, Family Fourth on the riverfront with music from 3 p.m. and fireworks at 10 p.m., www.mpls4thofjuly.com.

For more events, check minneapolis-riverfront.com and www.saintanthonymain. com.

Accommodations: The limestone Nicollet Island Inn, built in 1893 as the Island Door and Sash Co., is in the middle of everything. It has a restaurant and 24 individually decorated rooms, all with views and some with whirlpool, $200-$265; ask about special spring rates. 612-331-1800, www.nicolletislandinn.com.

Staying safe: The trail is nearly all off-road, but you still need to wear a helmet: You're much more likely to fall on your head by swerving or locking wheels with another bike than you are to be hit by a vehicle. And much of the trail is crowded on lovely weekends.

Information: The 1906 Longfellow House in Minnehaha Park, a 2/3-size replica of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's home in Massachusetts, has maps and brochures about history along the route. It's open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., 612-230-6520. For maps through the mail, call 612-230-6400, www.minneapolis parks.org; www.byways.org. For information on festivals along the riverfront, check www.mississippi-riverfront. com and www. saintanthonymain.com. — Beth Gauper
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Here's one on Chicago:

http://www.cnn.com/2006/TRAVEL/DESTINATIONS/05/02/biking.chicago.ap/index.html

Chicago on two wheels
By Caryn Rousseau
Associated Press


CHICAGO, Illinois (AP) -- Known for its blustery winds, Chicago's lakefront might not seem the ideal place for a leisurely bike ride.

But the paved path along Lake Michigan that snakes south from the suburbs past some of the city's most famous sites makes the perfect urban excursion for taxi-weary tourists.

Several companies rent bicycles at prominent spots across the city. Two examples: Bike Chicago has six outlets and Bobby's Bike Hike offers day and night guided tours. But there's no rule you can't bring your own wheels.

Why pay for transit tickets, shuttle buses or walk miles when you can see the city at your own pace for half the price?

I started at visitor-friendly Navy Pier, where the bicycle rental kiosk sits along the shore. Choices range from sporty mountain bikes to comfortable beach cruisers. Ask to try the different cycle types before you commit to one and make sure the seat isn't too high.

Tandem bikes are available too. So are inline skates and a variety of baby seats, strollers and wagons for the kids. Helmets and locks are included. For those who prefer battery power to pedal power, several companies also offer Segway tours of the city.

I was suited up and ready to go when, I admit, I got a bit lost. The signage pointing out the lakefront trail isn't the best in some areas. My advice: Bring a map. Bike Chicago provides them too.

A nice thing about the trail is that the addresses are painted on the pavement. So you'll know where you are when it says, for example, "700S" for 700 South or "1600N" for 1600 North.

After my five-minute detour, I cycled a half-mile south to find a beautiful view of Navy Pier jutting into lake with its Ferris wheel standing tall. With all the sights to see, there will likely be more stopping than pedaling.

Continuing south, the path runs past the Chicago Yacht Club, a marina filled with hundreds of sailboats tottering back and forth in the lake breeze. Look west and Chicago's famous downtown skyline -- the Sears Tower, the John Hancock Building and Prudential Building -- looms overhead.

At Monroe Street, a side trail offers exploration of Chicago's new Millennium Park. Cyclists can lock up the bikes to stroll through the gardens or catch a performance at the outdoor amphitheater. But be careful, you have to cross the very busy Lake Shore Drive to get there.

Grant Park and its postcard-famous Buckingham Fountain are next before Chicago's museum campus, offering stops and tours at the Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium or The Field Museum. The museums have restaurants and there are plenty of water fountains and food stands along the way for the road-weary.

The path continues south past Soldier Field, the newly redone spaceship-looking home of the Chicago Bears. The famous facade remains. The city's main convention center, McCormick Place, is accessible as well, and there are picnic lunch possibilities at 31st Street beach.

Other south-side trails off the lake lead to Chinatown, the Chicago Blues Museum, U.S. Cellular Field (where the World Series champion Chicago White Sox play), the University of Chicago and Museum of Science and Industry.

North from Navy Pier offers more sites you would be paying a city cabbie $15 to drive you to through traffic. I found the nicest section of the ride to be along Oak Street Beach, where the mist from the Lake Michigan waves hits your face as seagulls sail by. Riders pass the Drake Hotel and swanky Gold Coast high-rise condos.

The lakefront park trail continues north through trendy Lincoln Park with its popular zoo and conservatory. From the zoo, riders can go off trail to cycle up Clark Street for great local shopping. The north side of the path also offers at least six different beaches and golfing options.

The bike trail is a steal if your plan was to walk or taxi your way along the Lake Michigan shore's most popular destinations. At the most expensive, a single-person bicycle is $43 from Bike Chicago, or choose from the company's several neighborhood and nighttime tours.
 

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I don't really know, because I'm not an avid cyclist, but I've heard that Madison and Portland are pretty much the best in the country.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Over 100 years in the making, Based on HWS Cleveland's 1883 master plan, 53 miles, here's a map of the Grand Rounds in Minneapolis, the only National Scenic Byway located in a major city in the US:



"the best-located, best-financed, best-designed, best maintained public open space in America." (Alexander Garvin, The American City: What Works, What Doesn't, 1996, p. 63)[/I]

http://www.mpls.lib.mn.us/history/cg4.asp

Trust for Public Land: "closest thing to park nirvana".

Pics of Lakes Calhoun, Harriet, Isles, Nokomis, and Minnehaha Creek. You can canoe all of these lakes because they're connected by the creek. Eat your heart out Madison:
:)


































 

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The Lansing River Trail is a very nice (if even short) bike trail that connects, north and downtown Lansing with East Lansing, mainly. It is completely below street level, and is said to be one of the longest of the urban trailways:

http://www.msu.edu/~paszkie1/RiverTrail/

http://parks.cityoflansingmi.com/rivertrail_map.pdf

A Few of My photos:

















As you can see, it is a very natural urban trail, and often times you'd never know you were in the heart of the city.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Lmichigan said:
The Lansing River Trail is a very nice (if even short) bike trail that connects, north and downtown Lansing with East Lansing, mainly. It is completely below street level, and is said to be one of the longest of the urban trailways:
Not sure why you italicized the word "urban", that's what this thread is about, bike paths in cities, not rural or suburban bike paths.
 

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Well, because it's obviously not one of the longest trails, and everything I've always seen has made the point of putting urban in the description. Looking at these longer trails there's no way it could be one of the longest, is it?
 

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The Oak Leaf Trail/Hank Aaron St. Trail--Milwaukee. Probally one of the nicer systems in the country. Over a hundred miles of trails--including mountain biking segments and bike lanes. The system also connects to various other trails in Wisconsin that pretty much make it possible to travel from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River by bike.

Like cheesehead, I ride my bike alot during the summer. This trail is pretty nice for getting around the city. It virtually connects the entire city and surrounding suburbs. By using this--I am easily able to ride my bike from my home on the far northwest side to downtown and Miller Park. What makes it great is that it cuts through dense neighorhoods on the East Side with no interuptions. Some dont even own cars, instead use this stretch to bike to work.
 

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I know these pictures are old, but this is how a typical bike path look like in Chicago





And yes, on special occasion, Lake Shore Drive is a bike path

 

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Nice Lake pictures Anti-Cheese. It seems that very few Minneapolis photo threads include photos of the lakes district--which I think is our best attraction.
 

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The Fox Cities

The Fox Cities (Appleton) have a nice system that is rapidly growing.

MAP

The map is a bit incomplete, but it shows the jist of it. Also, that section of trail going over the river is the longest pedestrian bridge in the state of Wisconsin, and just opened up under a year ago as part of the Friendship trail.

BTW, when does that lake shore drive event take place in Chitown??
 

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This year is on May 28,2006
Lake Shore Drive will be open to bicyclists at 5:30 a.m. and will close just before 10:00 a.m. Get an early start and enjoy more car-free bicycling!

The Whole Lake Shore Drive will be close... you could choose where you want to bike on the Lake Shore Drive, the drive is 15 miles long...

However, it will cost $40, but included many things such as food + services and All proceeds support the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation's efforts to make bicycling safer for everyone in Chicagoland—a year-round benefit we all enjoy

http://www.bikethedrive.org/
 

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This weekend I'm running in a 20K race around Lake Monona. I think the official name of the path is the "Lakeshore Path". It's probably the most popular in town for recreational riding/walking/running.


Another thing that's pretty groovy if you're into it (so I hear) is that you can hop on a path (Glacial Drumlin) in Madison that can take you 50+ miles out:
http://www.glacialdrumlin.com/
 

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KM-

That Indy Greenways map you posted is not comprehensive. It doesn't indicate the Pennsy, which is currently being developed by Indy and Cumberland and will begin construction next spring and will run from downtown to Mt Comfort Rd. Also, I don't know there names, but the last mapo I saw indicated many more paths and trails than this one.

Just an FYI.
 

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Chicago, the best city over 1,000,000 for bicycling in the U.S. according to
Bicycling Magazine this year. The lakefront, the biggest reason for the
ranking, that path east of LSD.
 

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www.milwaukeebybike.org

this covers all of the bike trails in and around milwaukee...the 100-mile Oak Leaf trail, Hank Aaron Trail and city streets with marked bike lanes. In particular, in the past few years the number of on-street lanes have increased quite a bit. I'm always suprised to see new ones pop up so quickly, like today I noticed that Forest Home has one.

you can bike along lake michigan for miles on paths, and once Pier Wisconsin and Lakeshore State Park are completed, it will be even easier to get around Summerfest...though that is possible now. Many parts of the Riverwalk are also easy to bike on. All of the new bridges...The Maruspial Bridge, 6th Street Viaduct, Brady Street Pedestrian Bridge, North Avenue Damn and Highland Street Pedestrian Bridge...definitely make crossing various rivers/roads much easier.

I bike fairly frequently, mostly just to see the City and get a little exercise and I truly think it is the best way to see the City. In many places, it is just as fast or faster to bike than drive. For instance, you can get from North Avenue to the Milwaukee Art Museum in probably 5 minutes on a dedicated path with no cross-traffic, whereas in a car it would probably take a few minutes longer.

i'll try to get some pictures in the next couple of days.
 
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