Ride Boldly!

Bikes, bicycling, and road safety.

On the Sidepath to Nowhere

In Anoka County, work has been being done on County Road 14, especially in the segment from US 10 to the west to Central Avenue to the east. A big overpass was built over Central a year or two back, and now lots of repaving and road improvement has been going on. I was out there checking it out.

The road previously had okay shoulders for riding, although once you pass US 10 it’s no shoulders, and straight through a retail district with multiple driveways in every block. In the newly paved sections, the shoulder is slightly narrower, but in better shape thanks to new pavement. In addition, as you pass Coon Creek Boulevard, there is now a sidepath.

I can be anti-sidepath for safety reasons, but in semi-residential areas they can have a lot of value relative to giving kids a slightly better place to be than a sidewalk, which is generally narrower than a sidepath. In this instance, the sidepath basically starts in someone’s driveway not far past the big Lowe’s on Main/County 14, and then dies an abrupt death at Hanson Boulevard. New road pavement continues up to University Avenue, after which the road is closed for major work.

The issue with this sidepath is it really doesn’t GO anywhere. Hanson is okay in sections for riding, but most parents are probably not going to be keen on their kids using the street there due to speed and general conditions. Main keeps going and goes up to Bunker Hills, which is a nice destination including a park and a water park. But the sidepath doesn’t go there. Once you get past Hanson going east, your choice is a narrow shoulder (it might be a full 4-foot, but it doesn’t look that way by eyeball). It doesn’t look as though there are plans (or right-of-way) to extend the sidepath further east; I haven’t found more info as yet. Still looking.

I understand issues with easements and right-of-way. But at the same time, I have a hard time calling roads like this complete streets, even though I see it happen. When your sidepath goes nowhere, what purpose does it serve?

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader.

Author: julie

Julie Kosbab is an online marketing consultant and active transportation advocate living in Anoka County, Minnesota. She was one of Minnesota's only League of American Bicyclists Certified Instructors when certified in 2005. She is a past member of the National Bicycle Tour Directors Association. She has 2 children and 4 bicycles. Find her on Twitter as @betweenstations.


  1. It’s always comical to see a trail or sidewalk abruptly end. As an engineer involved in many projects (including the construction of sidepaths – some better than others), I see this all the time, and even participate in the madness. There are a number of reasons why this happens – all of them frustrating – most of them having to do with regulations about who (city/county/state/feds) is paying for what and what the “logical termini” are for the project.

  2. Yeah. I think this is a county project, but I’m sure it’s got additional funding. It’d be a bit more sane if it connected to the so-called “University Avenue Bikeway,” which is a weird collection of sidepath+sidewalk+random road crossings up that section of University.

    It looks as though there’s not easement enough past Hanson to extend the sidepath. So the sidepath essentially connects a couple of subdivisions along the road, and that’s… about it. Maybe there’s a school in there somewhere. That would at least make me feel fuzzy inside, if the path could connect to a residential that leads to a school. But I’m betting not, since most of those housing units are fairly new, and there aren’t any fairly new schools over there.

  3. According to this presentation, it looks like sidepaths will be constructed along the entire corridor by 2012.

  4. Once the project is completed it will connect to 3 schools (Johnsville Elementary, Roosevelt Middle, and Blaine High School). Sand Creek Elementary will be a couple of blocks away as well. There’s also going to be a pedestrian tunnel just west of the railroad tracks at Avocet.