Bicycling in Minneapolis-They Are #1 for a Reason

One of my co-worker/commuter cyclist friend, is from Indiana and has family in the city of Minneapolis. I have read the articles and reports that have been coming out of Minneapolis raving about its success at getting people out of their cars and on bikes, but my friend sent me a link to their Midtown Greenway and it highlighted the great cycling culture that they are creating.
The Midtown Greenway is a 5.7-mile rail trail that consists of two one-way bike lanes and one two-way walking path, though they are combined in some places with space constrictions. The Greenway has been implemented and advanced by a grassroots nonprofit organization called the Midtown Greenway Coalition, that advocated for the Greenway trails to be put in by public agencies. The Coalition envisions a green urban pathway that provides the anchor for a regional, sustainable transportation network, and encourages healthy diverse communities to prosper, participate, and connect to the region. The Midtown Greenway features all-season, fast, safe, and pleasant walking, biking and rolling and vibrant sustainable greenspaces and plazas with opportunities for public art. Greenway edges offer access, safety, new public parks, economic opportunities, and streetcar transit. The Greenway culture has spread throughout the city to improve lives, neighborhoods, region, and the planet.

The Minneapolis Bicycle Program helps those who live and work in the city to use bicycles as a low polluting, cost-effective, and healthy way to travel. Minneapolis has been ranked as the best biking city in the country by Bicycling Magazine, as well as the #2 bicycling city in the nation by the US Census Bureau. Minneapolis has 43 miles of streets with dedicated bicycle lanes and 84 miles of off-street bicycle paths. The city has also been awarded with the League of American Bicyclists’ Bicycle Friendly Community Award. Minneapolis is home to Nice Ride Minnesota, the Bike Walk Ambassadors, and the Midtown Bike Center.

Bicycle Sharing

Bike sharing allows individuals to check out bicycles for short trips. The local non-profit Nice Ride Minnesota operates Minneapolis’ bike sharing system. Individuals must purchase subscriptions to check out bicycles – these are offered at daily, monthly, and yearly rates. The sturdy bicycles are designed for everyday trips, featuring three speeds, comfortable seating, chain guard, basket, fenders, and built-in lights. Bike sharing provides residents and visitors with a healthy, fun, different way to get around town.

700 bicycles are located at 65 kiosks in Downtown Minneapolis, the University of Minnesota, and nearby commercial areas. View the real-time map to see bicycle availability.

Planning Continues for Bikeway Building Boom

Minneapolis is experiencing a bikeway building boom. During the 2010 construction season 40 miles of bikeways will be built. Most of the changes will be striping and signing on-street bike lanes (about 25 miles). There will also several new bike boulevards (about 10 miles). The remaining 5 miles will be separate off-street bike paths.

To see the location of the projects, view the Minneapolis Bikeways: Existing, Funded, & Planned (pdf) map or New Projects website for individual project details.

It is apparent that the high ranks and awards that have been bestowed upon Minneapolis have been well justified, and that they haven't slowed down on their mission of getting more people on bikes. It is a good example of how other cities and states can make the progressive move in advancing their bike programs.