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This weekend will provide yet another appealing reason why Minneapolis is the nation's foremost bike city.
On Saturday, outside of
Freewheel Bike on the Greenway, the third-annual Midtown Greenway
Community Bike Festival will offer live blues and roots music from the
Grand Marquis, guided half- and one-hour bike tours of Midtown, and a
children's Bike Rodeo. There will also be free snacks, water bottles,
and T-shirts, plus bike decorations and other fun giveaways.
Organizer Chris Wurtz, who commutes by bike every day, spearheaded the first event in 2010. "The bike festival grew out of the idea that there is a need to increase awareness of biking and health, wellness, and safety among under-served, low-income communities in the Midtown area," he says.
Wurtz estimates that last year's festival drew in 200 people. By including live music in the line-up, he sought to make this year's event more festival-like, a destination event that people deliberately attend rather than a stop by as they pedal past on the Greenway. The Grand Marquis is self-described as a "jumpin' blues [and] hot-swinging jazz band" with "that classic, timeless 'straight-from-the-Kansas City-speakeasy' sound." Sounds like a good reason to dance. Pedalists young and old love to cut a rug, right?
A tour of Minneapolis's bicycling superhighway, with its easy exits on Park, Nicollet, Hennepin, Lake Calhoun, and beyond, plus its community gardens and art, is a good intro to just how awesome it is to get around Minneapolis by bike. The festival's bike tours of the Greenway will begin at 1 p.m. as the one-hour tour departs then. The event's two half-hour tours start at Freewheel at 1:15 and 2:30 p.m. Trained instructors from Nice Ride Minnesota will lead, and volunteers will watch over the rides, which are limited to 17 participants (and require helmets). The sturdy, neon-green bikes from Nice Ride will be available for those who've arrived bikeless.
Finally, according to Wurtz, the festival's Bike Rodeo will "guide children through a series of bike activities" with obstacles like the "Demon Driveway" and the "Crazy Crossroads," teaching them bike handling and safety skills. Instructors from the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota will lead kids through obstacles, and Cycles for Change will inspect their bikes pre-show to ensure they're rodeo-ready. Typically, bike rodeos teach kids how to properly start and stop, avoid hazards like rocks and potholes, scan for traffic without falling, look both ways before exiting their driveways, stop at stop signs, wait for traffic, and look both directions before doing a power takeoff. Good skills for a budding bike hipster.
Wurtz wants the festival to be a reason for Minneapolis's panoply of bike organizations to come together every year and talk about why they love cycling. "Our goal," says Wurtz, "is to have bike organizations staff a table to increase awareness of what their organization does for biking and the community." Freewheel will provide free hot dogs and water, while Peace Coffee will hand out gratis brews. Kids can expect to receive balloons, streamers, and stickers, plus "the proverbial water bottles," says Wurtz.
IF YOU GO:
Midtown Greenway Community Bike Festival
Noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, July 14
Freewheel Bike Center
2834 10th Ave. S., Minneapolis
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