December 17 2012

Paving the Way as a Nationally Recognized Hub for Urban Cyclists in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Minneapolis, Minnesota may best be known for its bitterly cold winters, so it may come as a surprise to some that the use of bicycles is one of the most prominent modes of transportation year round – even during those severely cold winters. The predominance of Minneapolis as the epicenter for biking culture has even become nationally recognized when it was ranked best biking city in the country by Bike Score. In addition, Bicycling Magazine rated Minneapolis as the #2 biking city, and U.S. Census Bureau listed it as the top 4 bicycling city in the nation.

Grand Rounds Scenic Byway MinneapolisThere are numerous establishments and organizations that have abetted in the formation of the Twin Cities as a major hub for bicyclists; however, the main focus here is on the infrastructure and tools in relation to planning and research that have made bicycling a feasible mode of transportation through funding and investment. One of the main factors, which has allotted Minneapolis to become a household name among the tight-knit community of bicyclists could be traced all the way back to the establishment of the Grand Rounds by notable Landscape Architect H.W.S. Cleveland. This urban byway has over time allowed for adjacent areas to be converted into open public park space, initializing primary infrastructure for alternative modes of transportation. With this in mind, over the last decade, the city of Minneapolis has invested millions of dollars on additional bicycle infrastructure and currently, the city has 81 miles of on-street bikeways and 85 miles of off-street commuter trails making it easy to ride no matter where you are in the city. In terms of existing support and infrastructure:

  • Minneapolis Midtown GreenwayThe Midtown Greenway serves as a major connection between the Minneapolis Chain of Lakes, the Mississippi River, and the western suburbs of Minneapolis. More importantly, the Greenway is easily accessible in the winter as it is plowed and serves thousands of commuters each week during the summer months;
  • Cedar Ridge Regional ParkThe Cedar Lake Regional Trail, better known as America’s first bicycle freeway extends from downtown Minneapolis to the neighboring suburb of Saint Louis Park. The Metropolitan Council, in conjunction with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, conducts annual use estimate counts of the Metropolitan Regional Parks and Trails System, and Cedar Lake Regional Trail continues to be one of the most utilized trails in terms of bicycling.

Not only is the city working to create a supportive infrastructure for alternative modes of transportation, but also other organizations are providing techniques and tools in support of this low-polluting and cost-effective mode of transportation.

  • Minneapolis Bike ShareIn support from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, Nice Ride Minnesota, a public bike-sharing program was launched in 2010 and offers 1,200 rental bikes at 116 stations;
  • University of Minnesota ZAP Bike Commuting Program provides automated bike commuting detection as a way to calculate bike trips. Commuters who chose this mode of transportation are then rewarded through monetary compensation, as well as Wellness rewards through health insurance reductions;
  • In addition, local events such as the Minneapolis Bike Tour are held on an annual basis, allowing bikers to tour the Grand Rounds Scenic Byway System, where it all began.

Having touched upon only a few techniques the city of Minneapolis has implemented to create a supportive biking infrastructure, what is your city doing to encourage other modes of transportation such as bicycling, either through infrastructure or monetary and wellness incentives? In terms of existing support and tools, what has worked and what has not?

Credits: Image by author. All other images and data linked to sources.

Jasna Hadzic

Born and raised in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but having spent most of her adult life in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.A.; Jasna Hadzic has been greatly influenced by both cultures, most specifically in terms of architecture, planning, and design. The transition of living in a small European pedestrian-oriented city to a large and vehicle-oriented American city greatly influenced her interest in the field of planning. She came to appreciate the vibrant, culturally diverse and faster-pace of life, while also looking toward her native city as a paradigm of sustainable living with traditional architecture, multi-modal transportation systems, and pedestrian-friendly spaces and streets. A recent Master’s graduate in Community and Regional Planning and G.I.S from Iowa State University, Jasna’s Thesis focused on the analysis of the built environment and demographic factors that influence physical activity, while examining street connectivity and infrastructure. In addition, Jasna holds a B.E.D. in Environmental Design, with a minor in Urban Studies, from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. Her most recent work experience as a Planning Research Assistant at the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board, as well as volunteer work with the Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity has exposed her to new city projects, as well as community engagement. Her career goal is to not only work directly on sustainable urban design projects, but to also ensure equitable and sustainable planning practices.

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This entry was posted on Monday, December 17th, 2012 at 8:26 pm and is filed under Environment, Infrastructure, Transportation, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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2 Responses to “Paving the Way as a Nationally Recognized Hub for Urban Cyclists in Minneapolis, Minnesota”

  1. Bridging Diversity: Midtown Global Market in Minneapolis, Minnesota | The GRID | Global Site Plans Says:

    [...] craft fairs. A Sheraton Hotel was built in the former Sears parking lot with direct access to the Midtown Greenway. Since its opening, the Midtown Global Market has attracted visitors from the greater [...]

  2. The Outlook for Middle America: Planning for Declining Cities of the Midwest | The GRID | Global Site Plans Says:

    [...] recommendations are already starting to emerge in the Twin Cities. There is an evident boom in non-motorized transportation, high-speed rail and the local food [...]

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