Riding for free: Disabled vets on the Metro Transit System

Breezing past the ticket machine at the Big Lake transit station I step onto the Northstar link, headed for Minneapolis and points beyond.  I carry no ticket, no metro pass.  I wait to see if I will be thrown off the train or given the $180 fine for having no ticket. Soon I will see whether boarding the light rail and the bus are as hassle-free as hopping on the Link.I have broken no laws. I have done nothing wrong. I’m confident all will be well. I am armed with my VA identification card on which the words “Service Connected” are emblazoned. As of July 1, 2009 this card is all I need to ensure free passage on any public transit line in Minnesota. Continue Reading

Taking kids for a ride on the train and bus

Admittedly, I am in love with mass transit.  My love affair began in New York City. Riding the New York City subways, New Jersey’s commuter rail and the Long Island Rail Road sold me forever on the idea. Since then, I’ve ridden a few other mass transit systems around America and abroad: South Korea’s high-speed rail and buses, Seoul’s subway system, Boston’s “T”, DC’s Metro, Chicago’s ‘L’, Pittsburgh’s buses and Seattle’s buses and ferries. None of them have done anything except make this love stronger. 
Ironically, given this love affair, and having grown up in Minnesota, I’d never ridden the Metro Transit system right here in our fair city. Continue Reading

The challenges of going green: Bicycle commuting on the Metro Transit System

As I load my bicycle into the back of my car I wonder if I’m ready for this.  My trip was already delayed once by rain, or actually my lack of raingear. I haven’t ridden a bike much further than around the block in years. But it looks like a nice day for a ride.I head to the Big Lake Transit Station to begin an experiment in bicycle commuting. I have never used the Metro Transit system before as a bicycle commuter.  I am about to find out, first hand and as a first-timer, how to navigate the transit system on a bicycle.I did not go out totally blindfolded.  I did some research on Metro Transit’s (metrotransit.org) website. Not only to check schedules, but also to attempt to get a sneak peek at what restraint systems were used on the bus, LRT and Northstar Line.  The website was somewhat helpful, but served more as a confidence booster than a source of knowledge.Hopping on the Northstar, I’m a bit curious why there are no ramps for bicycles (and wheelchairs for that matter!) to be loaded on the train. Continue Reading

Community Partners Bike Library set to open in May

Are you asking yourself what the heck is a bike library? A place to check out books while riding your bike? A library filled with books about bikes? Actually, it is neither.

The Bike Library will not house books, but rather bikes! It will be a place where working-class folks in need of transportation can go and check out a bike much like checking out a book from a typical library. [Video below]

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Photo by Justin Elston licensed under Creative CommonsStretching south from I-94 along the Mississippi River, the Longfellow community includes these neighborhoods: Seward, Longfellow (of course), Cooper, Howe, and HiawathaThe Greater Longfellow Neighborhood may be best known for its bungalows.It proudly declares itself a Traditional Bungalow Neighborhood on signs throughout the community, and has had its special homes featured in countless magazines and books. Built to be affordable, manageable and most of all beautiful, Longfellow provides the perfect setting for Craftsman cottages. But maybe it’s the Mississippi River and its biking and walking trails on the east, or historic Minnehaha Falls to the, or the new Hiawatha Light Rail line on its western border that Longfellow is best known for. Or perhaps, it is the lush, new, Midtown Greenway bike path on its northern border.It can be difficult to decide.And you can’t ignore Lake Street, which travels through Longfellow to the Mississippi, providing a vast array of shops and businesses.  From sushi to Sliders, from motor scooters and car mechanics to veterinary care and cappuccino, you can find it here.Longfellow remains an affordable, friendly, diverse and walkable neighborhood, with scenery second to none.(Description from livemsp.org)For detailed demographic information, see the neighborhood profile from Minnesota Compass.   Continue Reading