It may comes as a surprise to the rest of the country that Minneapolis was found on the “Most Bikeable Cities” list. Other famously bike-friendly cities like Portland and San Francisco tied for second, but with a combined 84 miles of dedicated bike paths, Minneapolis and St. Paul have a dedicated cycling population. Despite the frigid temperatures and often treacherous ice, the number of Minneapolis residents who bike to work all year-round, dips by only 50% during the winter months. Urban bikers don’t always need to struggle with the snowy streets or sidewalks; the Midtown Greenway serves as an east-west interchange that thousands of bikers utilize weekly year-round. In fact, it’s not uncommon that the Greenway be plowed of snow before many highways are clear.
Programs like Nice Ride Minnesota reflect the growing cycling population, providing rental bikes all around the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. Even in the suburbs, Minnesota has access to a phenomenal system of bike trails and connecting paths that serve as superhighways for the cycling population. The Dakota Rail Trail connects Wayzata to St. Bonifacius, and the combined Luce Line Regional and State trails provide uninterrupted ride from Theodore Wirth Park in Minneapolis almost 60 miles west, nearly to Hutchinson.
Not confined to the Twin Cities, many part of greater Minnesota have networks of bike trails. On the scenic North Shore of Lake Superior, the Gitchi-Gami State Trail , when completed, will join Two Harbors and Grand Marais with an 88 mile paved trail for non-motorized vehicles.The Root River Trail in Southeast Minnesota and the Paul Bunyon Trail between Brainerd and Bemidji bring recreational biking opportunities to Minnesota residents statewide.
Walkscore.com, the group that published the Most Bikeable Cities list, rates neighborhoods from 1-100 (from car-dependent to walkers paradise) based on accessibility to shopping, parks, schools, dining. In December 2012 they began adding bikeability into its total score. When one point score can raise real estate prices from $500 to $3,000 dollars, it can become an authentic, quantifiable part of a home’s value. For instance, Downtown West Minneapolis earns a 91 (walker’s paradise), the Linden Hills neighborhood receives a 71 score (very walkable/bikeable) while Prior Lake receives a 25 (car dependent).
Americans in general seem to have a renewed interest in urban living and place a greater value on accessibility to work, school, and social events by a mode of communication that is not a car. Car ownership has declined in the US, as young adults are actively seeking out alternatives to the car-and-driver commute. Concurrently, the older Baby Boomers are looking toward a more compact lifestyle with amenities they can reach without an engine.
Do you use a bike for any of your work or leisure transportation? Have you heard from clients requesting bikeable neighborhoods?