Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - After an official safety check led by Duluth Police, Mayor Don Ness and dozens of Northland bicyclists set out from the steps of City Hall Friday afternoon on their ride west.
While there were a few sections of paved, separated bike trail on their trek to Clyde Iron Works, the bulk of their trip was spent on either Superior or Michigan street.
As of now, there are no designated bike paths on or along either road.
James Gittemeier, is a Senior Planner with the Duluth Superior Metropolitan Interstate Council. When compared to the Twin Cities, Gittemeier says Duluth's streets are manageable for the average biker "without us really doing a whole lot to them," said Gittemeier, bike by his side. "However, most people are not comfortable riding on streets with cars."
Gittemeier says the city's plans with current and future transportation projects are being viewed through a bicyclist and pedestrian lens.
"And in a lot of ways, from a bicyclist's perspective, transforming the street network to be bicycle–friendly," added Gittemeier.
A major project slated to begin is the two–year reconstruction of 5 miles of Grand Avenue from I–35 to Becks Road.
Duluth Project Engineer Greg Stoewer says it will include many pedestrian–conscious alterations.
"Accessibility, connections to trails, and things to help on the DTA bus stops," listed Stoewer.
But the biggest project for bikers, says Gittemeier, is the city's proposed Cross–City Trail, which would connect the Lakewalk out east to the Munger Trail out west via a bike trail separated from traffic.
"That's really huge," said Gittemeir, "because then we can build off of that. So, that's really the starting point."
According to Stoewer, Duluth has finally acquired a long sought–after $3 million grant for Grand Avenue renovations.
Their work will coincide with MnDOT's mill and overlay project for the road.
Another massive proposed project is the Superior Street reconstruction that's scheduled for some time in 2016.
Some of the projects focuses currently include pedestrian spaces, lighting, and public art.