Interstate highways are for motor vehicles, not for bicyclists. Yet on consecutive mornings last week the State Patrol had to shoo person-powered two-wheelers off the freeway.
On Monday, a 14-year-old girl was riding in rush-hour traffic on the shoulder of eastbound Interstate-94 in the area of Cretin Avenue in St. Paul. She told the trooper who caught up to her just after 8 a.m. that she was following the route that Google Maps told her to take to get home. The trooper escorted her off the freeway, and she used city streets to complete her trip, said Lt. Tiffani Nielson of the State Patrol.
On Tuesday, a man was spotted riding a bicycle on the freeway in the east metro around 5:35 a.m. He took the ramp from southbound I-694 to eastbound I-94 and rode into Woodbury before a trooper caught up to him. The man, believed to be somewhere in his 20s, got a stern lecture, then hopped the freeway fence and rode off.
It's against the law to ride a bike on the freeway. It's also atypical, Nielson said. But it does happen when bicyclists get lost, confused or there is some other kind of misunderstanding.
"We do have bicyclists take shortcuts or inadvertently get lost," she said.
Freeways are not designed for bicycles, what with vehicles whizzing by at 60 miles per hour, or faster. There also are few places to safely cross the road, which is another reason they are prohibited.
In most cases, cyclists caught on the freeways are given warnings to stay off them. But the trooper can ticket an offender for failing to obey regulatory signs. The fine can run from $125 to $145, depending on the county.
Nice Ride going for daily record
If you've ever wanted to try out one of those shiny green Nice Ride Minnesota bicycles, use Saturday to cross that off the bucket list.
From 9 a.m. to noon, the Minneapolis Foundation will give away free 24-hour passes for the bike-sharing program at the following stations in Minneapolis: Loring Park, 100 SE. Main St. near St. Anthony Main, Theodore Wirth Beach, Midtown Greenway at 5th Avenue S., Lake Street and Knox Avenue S., and the Minneapolis Farmers Market.
The giveaway is part of an effort to set a new daily record for the number of rides taken, said Nice Ride marketing director Anthony Ongaro. The current record of 4,486 rides in a 24-hour period was set on July 26, 2014. A ride is defined as each time a bicycle is checked out and then returned to a station. Ongaro said he is hoping to record 5,000 rides across the system of 170 stations.
It just might happen. Last year, users of the fourth-largest bike sharing program in the nation took 405,000 rides. This year's seasonable weather has ridership on pace to eclipse that mark. Nice Ride has recorded 145,792 rides from April 1 through last Thursday, up 34 percent from the 108,567 recorded during the same time period last year.
Record or not, riders on Saturday will be raising money for Free Bikes for Kidz. The Minneapolis Foundation turns 100 this year and will mark the occasion by donating $1 to the nonprofit for every ride taken anywhere in the city. Free Bikes for Kidz will use the money to cover costs of refurbishing used bikes, which will then be given to children in December.