A bicyclist who delivers coffee in Minneapolis said he narrowly escaped injury after someone threw a Molotov cocktail at him on the Minneapolis Greenway Wednesday afternoon.
Drew Ditlefsen said he was riding on the below-grade portion of the Greenway that runs on an old railroad bed below the street in the Midtown area. He said someone threw the makeshift firebomb at him from the 15th Avenue overpass. He said the bottle narrowly missed him, hit the pavement and burst into flames.
"It was a close call. Very close. My coworker said he could even smell the fumes on me," he said.
He said that portion of the Greenway presents some added risk for bicyclists and pedestrians, because it runs below street level.
"There [are] lots of areas where you can't escape going up the hill, or you know, if people come down, it's not easy for a pedestrian," Ditlefsen said. "There's not an exit on every street."
The most recent Minnesota Department of Public Safety statistics show that five bicyclists were killed in accidents on state roads in 2011. That's lower than any year since 2007. But the number of bicyclists injured in accidents in 2011 also slightly increased.
The Midtown Greenway Coalition, a neighborhood group, recorded a number of other assaults on bicyclists, including a robbery reported in February. Ditlefsen said he's had bottles, rocks, sticks and other things thrown at him before, but he plans to keep using the trail.
"It is a great tool that we do have in the city, and this is, hopefully, I'd like to think, a one-in-a-million thing that happened," he said.
The Midtown Greenway Coalition warns bicyclists need to be aware of their surroundings, particularly around bridges, ramps and stairs, and should turn around if they see anything suspicious.