Tag: Minnesota

How many people ride bikes in Minneapolis and St. Paul compared to Chicago?

I applied for a job on Tuesday in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area (Twin Cities).

I had heard that more people, as a percentage of all commuters, commute by bike in Minneapolis and St. Paul than in Chicago and many other cities. If you’ve been reading Steven can plan for a while, you know that I visited Minneapolis in September 2009 and rented a bike for 24 hours.

I used the American FactFinder to get the details. And now I know what I heard is true.

Chicago Minneapolis St. Paul
Workers over 16 1,230,809 190,814 131,798
Ride bikes to work 12,755 6,770 1,567
Bike mode share 1.04% 3.55% 1.19%

Permalink to data results. Data from the 2006-2008 3-year American Community Survey estimates, table B08301.

Knowing these figures led me to question the nothing that Chicago is a bicycle-friendly city. If it’s so friendly to riding a bicycle, how come there aren’t more people riding their bikes to work?

One of my ideas: There are many trails criss-crossing Hennepin and Ramsey Counties that go to and through major neighborhoods and employment centers. These are essentially bike highways without the threat of a automobiles.

What’s up with bicycling in Minneapolis, part 2

Part 2 of What’s up with bicycling in Minneapolis:

  • I feel better knowing that Metro Transit has a similar bike parking problem like Metra and the Chicago Transit authority. Metro Transit doesn’t provide bike parking at the Mall of America light rail station so several bicyclists locked their bikes to the most secure object at the station: the platform handrails. Thankfully, the bicyclists had the sense to lock far away from the trains – locking to handrails can be dangerous in emergencies, and trains occasionally have emergencies. I think I know what the station designers thought when they planned (or didn’t plan) bike facilities at the Mall of America station: “Who will need to park their bike here? This is a trip destination, not origin.” Don’t underestimate the needs of bicyclists who use transit. Every station needs bike parking, no matter its location or perceived use. I imagine at least three reasons these bicyclists locked here (ask me).
  • I experienced a little shock when I finally found the Intercampus Transitway I initially viewed from Google Maps satellite view. The roadway serves exclusively bicyclists and buses traveling between the busy University of Minnesota campus and the busy State Fair (when operating). An off-street trail matches most of the length of the roadway, but I had to enter the transitway when the trail ended but the road continued. The 10 buses who passed me (the State Fair must be popular) respected my space and safety, a very appreciable behavior.
  • One of the many bridges spanning the Mississippi River connects both campuses of the University. The upper deck carries bicycle and foot traffic where bridge designers installed a completely enclosed walkway.

Midtown Greenway at Chicago Avenue in MPLS

Open space advocates and planners should investigate the development, design, and construction of the Midtown Greenway in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Greenway opened up acres of green space to residents, and created new spaces, like this ramp to the multi-use trail between Chicago and 11th Avenues.

Sorry, I won’t do the research for you, because the bicycling facilities component of the multi-use trail and corridor interest me more. Start here: http://www.midtowngreenway.org/

I will continue sharing photos of my trip to “trail city.”

What’s up with bicycling in Minneapolis, part 1

I present you a synopsis on what I observed about bicycling in Minneapolis. I visited the city (surfing someone’s couch) over the Labor Day weekend, rented a bike, rode the train and spent 9 non-stop hours exploring the city.

Sorry if it seems I only noticed the off-street trails and paths. Please read my experience in two parts, part 1 below:

  • Residents like trails. Trails connect residents to suburbs, several neighborhoods, cut across the city, get bicyclists downtown, to the light rail, and help preserve open space. Many of the trails are converted railroad rights of way. Some of the railroads are still active. I liked seeing railroads and bicyclists and other trail users traveling together. I wish I had
  • Hennepin County takes care of the trails. The trails’ pavement quality and their signage exhibited supreme guardianship. The designers of the trails obviously went to great lengths to keep low the number of bicyclist-pedestrian conflicts, provided restrooms, and when most convenient for riders, made a trail carry only one-way traffic (a loop around the Lake of the Isles).
  • I enjoyed Minneapolis’s crown jewel trail: the Midtown Greenway. I liked not only how the trail stretches uninterrupted (save for one at-grade street crossing) for 5 miles, but also the respect citizens give it. The 20+ (what’s the official count?) bridges crossing the Greenway give users a neat view.
  • Minneapolis has implemented several ways to remove conflicts between bicyclists and pedestrians and bicyclists and motorists. The Martin Sabo bridge over Hiawatha Avenue and the Hiawatha segment of Metro Transit’s light rail lets trail users ride continuously from trail to trail, making the connections easily, quickly and best of all safely.

Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3.