A cyclist who’s spent the last two years delivering coffee by bike for Peace Coffee narrowly avoided a flaming Molotov cocktail tossed at him Wednesday afternoon from the 15th Avenue bridge spanning Minneapolis’ Midtown Greenway.
Drew Ditlefsen, 27, said he didn’t see it coming, but heard the glass shatter and immediately smelled toxic fumes.
“It was just like, Whoosh,” he said, likening the explosion to the sound of lighter fluid being sprayed on a grill.
The flames spread across the Greenway behind him as he rode on, not sure if another missile would follow. He stopped about 30 yards away and saw two people standing on the bridge. They appeared stunned, then said, ‘Let’s get out of here!’ before they ran south toward E. Lake Street, said Ditlefsen. He couldn’t see them clearly enough to provide a description.
The bomb burned for nearly a minute, Ditlefsen said. He eventually rode back to the spot where it had landed and photographed what remained. His photo of a shattered bottle and what looked like charred blacktop, posted to Facebook, quickly spread through the Twin Cities bicycling community.
Minneapolis police sent out arson and explosives experts to investigate the 1 p.m. attack.
Ditlefsen said he’s used the Greenway heavily during his employment at Peace Coffee. He usually pulls a heavy trailer loaded with coffee for delivery, and the Greenway helps him avoid vehicle traffic. He’s had sticks and bottles tossed at him from the Greenway overpasses, he said, but usually those attacks come in the evening.
Things tossed from the overpasses are well-known hazards to Greenway riders, said Ditlefsen. He said he knows someone who had a grocery cart tossed at them. Luckily, it missed.
He usually looks up at the bridges as he passes underneath.
Ditlefsen said he hopes the city will consider installing fences along the overpasses to prevent more attacks.
Matt McKinney • 612-217-1747