When warmer weather starts to peak out through winter’s snowy veil, it’s not uncommon for the number of bicyclists out on the streets to multiply. Even if the weather isn’t reason enough to get out on a bike, gas prices usually are.
Despite all the motivation to take a spin on the old ten-speed, many people have misgivings about biking in the city. Automobiles are not known for their friendliness towards cyclists. And for the fashionably inclined, the bike helmet is not a favorite accessory.
In order to overcome these biking obstacles, members of the Northeast community in Minneapolis have collaborated on a project resulting in The Northeast Arts District Bike Map, a map highlighting the most effective route for biking amongst the plethora of art galleries in the northeast area.
The map was produced by collaboration between Hedberg Maps, Altered Esthetics art gallery and many others. Jamie Schumacher, the curator at Altered Esthetics, recalls when she along with friend and former co-worker Brad Wilson first generated the idea for a map of the arts district a few years ago. Schumacher has also contributed a great deal to coordinating the project and Altered Esthetics is among the map’s many sponsors.
“We’ve been fortunate to have the help of two bike messengers over the past two years to help plan the routes around the district,” said Schumacher.
Hedberg Maps contributed the design for the map adds what Schumacher calls a “very professional face to a more grass-roots community project.”
Though the project has received much assistance from its sponsors, its work to fulfill its goals is far from finished.
“I think quite a bit still needs to be done…but we are well on our way. This area of Minneapolis isn’t thoroughly bike-friendly yet, however there is a lot going on within the city in regards to creating new bike paths, bike routes and supporting the local cyclists,” said Schumacher. Some of the goals for the map include “to encourage the flow of traffic between the galleries and studios in the district, to help promote artists, galleries and studios in the Arts District, and to encourage bicycling as a sustainable mode of transportation in the Twin Cities.”
One part of promoting artists and galleries is participating in many art events. The map’s spring release is intentional—to be available in time for Art-A-Whirl®, as well as various events throughout summer and fall. The map is especially effective for events occurring at multiple galleries, like Art Crawls, as an alternative to driving.
“It seems like such a hassle to drive and park, drive and park, drive and park when you can just hop on your bike and ride from location to location,” said Schumacher.
Since the first version that came out in 2006, the map has undergone quite a few changes; the most obvious being that the new map will be in color. A new website for the map has also been launched, where an e-version of the map can be downloaded, and the hope is to distribute almost 10 times as many printed copies as last year. While the map has generally been a source of excitement, there are also very serious reasons for the creation of such a tool.
According to a report issued by MPR almost 1,000 bikers were injured in crashes during 2005 alone, and last August a University student was killed while riding her bike near campus. With statistics like this in mind, the map keeps safety a major priority.
“Certain freeways and other high-traffic areas with less-than-desirable pedestrian and cyclist crossings have made mapping routes a little bit complicated, but we’ve done our best to work around these more difficult areas to provide folks with the safest recommendations possible,” Schumacher says.
The Northeast Arts District Bike Map is a clear example of how an idea can become reality and provide the possibility of improving the quality of life for an entire city.
“There are a huge number of cyclists in the Twin Cities and a substantial number of artists in the arts district. The simultaneous existence of these two communities has made this project practical,” Schumacher says.
“I think the community is doing a lot to move things in a positive direction and I look forward to watching as things develop over the next few years.”
The Bike Map will be released in late April and will be free of charge. For more information about the Northeast Arts District Bike Map, Altered Esthetics, or any of participating locations please visit: .