Breathtaking Bike Infrastructure: Minnesota’s Martin Olav Sabo Bridge
In 2007, in order to route cyclists away from a challenging 7-lane crossing on busy Hiawatha Avenue, Minneapolis built the Martin Olav Sabo Bridge.
The first cable-stayed bridge of any kind in the state, it’s breathtaking, even to the people who have been riding it for years. It provides a safe, continuous crossing and offers up a glorious view of the downtown skyline (especially at sunset!). The sleek Hiawatha light rail line runs beneath it, and there are benches to sit on and take everything in.
Used by an average of 2,500 riders a day, peak use can hit 5,000 to 6,000 per day on some gorgeous summer weekends, according to Shaun Murphy of the Minneapolis Department of Public Works.
The bridge was named in honor of Minneapolis' Martin Olav Sabo, a former U.S. Representative from the 5th District who helped secure much of the $5 million needed to build it. Thanks to the Bikes Belong Foundation for enabling us to feature this majestic piece of bike architecture and to show that investing in cycling and walking is well worth every penny for our communities.
Shaun Murray: [00:17] We’re standing at the Sabo Bridge on the Midtown Greenway in South Minneapolis. It was built back in 2007 and carries about 2500 bicyclists a day. It cost $5 million to build. The reason why we built the bridge is so that cyclists would not have to cross a seven lane major highway at grade.
Louis Moore: [00:35] The bridge is named after my former employer, Congress Martin Sabo, and I did spend 19 years working for him here in his District Office in Minneapolis. We came up with the idea that we would try to create a bridge up and over Hiawatha to try to avoid the many traffic mishaps that would happen with bicyclists going across the street.
R T Rybak: [00:55] The Sabo Bridge did not need to look quite so beautiful or quite so spectacular, but we just believe in doing that here in Minneapolis. The infrastructure should really be celebrated, you know, when you really think about fountains and cities or bridges.
Shaun Murray: [01:10] I think part of the reason why it does look so beautiful is because we had an engineering challenge with this bridge. We had to get between, I’m pointing over toward large power line up high and a light rail lying down below, and the light rail line of course runs on electricity so they have overhead wires as well, and that’s the reason for the cable stayed bridge.
Jay Walljasper: [01:31] It’s not the quickest route to get from Point A to Point B, but I usually take the bridge unless I’m in a really furious hurry because it is just so much fun to kind of go up there and, you know, it’s got the gentle incline and then you get a zoom down on the other side and it’s just cool looking.
Joan Pasiuk: [01:45] The evening view of the Sabo Bridge is not only inspiring to bicyclists and walkers using it, but to the drivers underneath who are hopefully saying wow, I should be on top of that beautiful bridge. It’s gorgeous.
Erik Lindstrom: [01:58] I suppose it’s like looking at the Niagara Falls or something, you know, you just, in cycling we don’t have many featured bridges like this so it’s like coming up to a major interstate passway on a car except you’re on a bike.
Jay Walljasper: [02:10] Well you kind of feel like you’re the kind of the roadway when you’re up there. I see a lot of people just sitting up, maybe just walk up to sit up there. I mean it’s just, there’s something about the design of that bridge that is not just about moving people, but it’s kind of about moving their souls a little bit too.
Shaun Murray: [02:25] On a beautiful day in the summer you probably get, you know, anywhere from five to six thousand bicyclists who ride over this bridge.
S Scott Dibble:
[02:33] You know there’s been some criticism about the amount of money
that we spend on some of these bicycle facilities, particularly when
they’re off road facilities or dedicated trails. But when you
do the head count and you really do the cost benefit analysis, compare
that to how much money we put into the transportation infrastructure
for cars that the benefit just in terms of transportation, in terms
of connecting communities, in terms of liveability, quality of life
and how it makes people feel about where they live, it just can’t
even be compared.
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