Spinning Wheels

Bicycles and the paths that carry them.
Daniel Ivett, policeman for the Village of White Bear, cycles past Railroad Park, ca 1896.

Bicycles have been popular for decades. Some may think the need for safe bicycle paths is a new movement, but, in fact, the matter was taken up before the village council at White Bear before the turn of the 20th century.

On April 20, 1896, the White Bear Village council passed an ordinance to “prohibit the riding or propelling of bicycles upon sidewalks within the limits of the Village of White Bear, Ramsey County, Minnesota. Any person or persons propelling, while seated thereon a bicycle upon sidewalks within the Village of White Bear, or upon that portion of any public street of such Village reserved for sidewalk purposes, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished by a fine of not less than one ($1) dollar nor more than ten dollars ($10) and the costs of such prosecution.”

Later that same year, the St. Paul Bicycle Path Association announced they had constructed a path from St. Paul to the village limits on the south. They had also contracted to construct another path from the village limits north to the Dellwood clubhouse and offered the village cinders for the construction of a path to connect the two. The village council responded by appropriating $125 to fix Lake Avenue from Fifth Street to the north limits of the village, and to construct a cycle path to connect the two.

A cycle path commission was established to oversee the maintenance of the paths and conduct inspections each spring. As early as 1903, it was reported by commission president Dr. J. C. Nelson that the paths were “in the worst condition they were in since they were built.” Repairs were made and the pattern of improvement and deterioration was underway.

For more information on the history of bicycle paths in the area, click here or call 651.407.5327.