Page 14 - 2013_winter.indd

the corridor. He used to visit frequently
and enjoyed listening to the sounds of
birds. “I’d see couples on the bridges
overhead, looking out at this corridor,
even though it was filled with trash, and
embracing each other,” he says.
Puzak was so convinced that a rec-
reational path could work there that he
began lobbying for it all over the city.
He drafted a letter about the whys and
hows behind the trail and sent it to neigh-
borhood groups along the railway corridor
and to city and county elected officials.
He showed up at festivals with handouts
that detailed his vision and gave talks to
any group that would listen.
Along the way, Puzak collected his own
army of volunteers, some of whom were
avid cyclists, and the group began meet-
ing to discuss plans. This was the start of
the Midtown Greenway Coalition, which
incorporated as a nonprofit in 1995.
The idea took time to grow legs.
Many people thought it was an impos-
sible dream because of the condition of
the corridor and the resources we’d need
to make it happen,” says Tim Springer.
Former executive director of the Midtown
Greenway Coalition, Springer helped
Puzak lead the charge and set a goal to
create a fast, safe and pleasant bikeway.
Still, the coalition was confident.
Minneapolis has a history of creating
green corridors, and locals’ strong affinity
for open-air activities is legendary. “It’s
tough to live here if you don’t enjoy doing
something outdoors,” Puzak says.
All of the efforts paid off. The city
petitioned—and received—funding from
the Intermodal Surface Transportation
Efficiency Act, which allocates funds
for transit projects. Using this money
along with state and local dollars, the city
began creating the Greenway, all the time
working with the HCRRA. In 2000, the
Midtown Greenway opened to the public.
Not Just a Superhighway,
But a Destination, Too
The bike center sits about halfway on the
trail, so whether I turn right or left to start
doesn’t really matter. I’ve heard so much
about the Sabo Bridge, an architectural
masterpiece, and I’m worried the snow
might not allow me to explore the whole
trail, which is why I turn left out of the
store to see the bridge first.
The Sabo Bridge is indeed one of the
trail’s highlights. It’s a beautiful piece of
architecture with a curved ramp for easy
access. Shortly after crossing the bridge,
I arrive at the end of the trail and turn
back, passing Freewheel as I explore the
other half of the trail.
Truth be told, I’m at a disadvantage
riding through a storm, for the snow
encloses me in a blinding sheet of white.
Numerous residential areas flank the
trail—the Greenway runs through nine,
with seven more a block away, includ-
ing a popular commercial district called
Uptown with many restaurants and
shops—and I pass places where I could
exit and explore these neighborhoods, but
the snow doesn’t allow that luxury today.
Nor does it allow for any good aromas
Feel like checking out the Midtown
Greenway? Here’s the scoop on where
to stay, eat and play in Minneapolis:
If you want to be
within walking distance of the trail,
If you prefer to stay downtown
you can drive or take a cab to the
trail), consider
boutique hotel that offers such
perks as a complimentary wine hour
every evening and free access to the
Minneapolis Life Time Athletic Club.
Another bonus? Pets of all sizes stay
for free and even get bowls, bed and
pick-up bags.
With the trail’s
many downtown
and neighborhood
connections, don’t be
surprised to see folks
hauling unconventional
equipment, or even
carrying out a home
move via bicycles.