Biking through the Twin Cities…
Posted by deborahmclaren on July 6, 2010
Alternative, human-powered transportation is fun, healthy, helps Minnesotans reduce our carbon footprint, and provides a totally different way to experience our cities
Minneapolis is the bike-friendliest city in the country!
The April ’10 issue of Bicycling magazine ranks Minneapolis ahead of 49 other large and medium-size cities in accessibility to bicyclists. Portland has long ranked first, both in the magazine’s rankings and other surveys. “Despite the cold wintertime climate, Minneapolis has a thriving bike community. It has 120 miles of on- and off-street bicycle facilities, plus indoor bike parking and other cycling-friendly facilities.”
It’s pretty good when you live in this climate but can still bike to work and play six months out of the year. The Twin Cities have excellent bike lanes, plenty of bike racks, great trails, a bicycle “Midtown Greenway,” and some new free and fair priced rental bike programs. Check out the Minneapolis bike website for maps, trails, detours, and cool things like the new bike sharing program.
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. Approximately 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. I’ve noticed that they are not just available along riding paths – you can easily find them in front of Minnesota’s beloved food co-ops, restaurants, museums and even City Hall. There are over 60 kiosks to choose from.
The “other” Twin (of the Twin Cities) is St. Paul – the most livable city in the US and my town!
Sibley Bike Depot is a not-for-profit community bike shop and volunteer run organization. It grew out of the Yellow bike Coalition (YBC) and The Minnesota Bicycle and Pedestrian Alliance (MNBPA). The Depot has Free Open Shop hours every week, even during the winter! This means that anyone can come in during their open hours, work on their bike, use the Depot’s tools, and talk to mechanics free of charge. The Earn a Bike program is an innovative program to provide bikes to people who could not normally afford them. By working in the shop, people can earn-a-bike. The Depot organizes group rides that focus on teaching safe riding techniques and the skills needed to utilize bicycles as a form of transportation. The Sibley Bike Depot is a collective that relies on volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering, Email Volunteer Coordinator Jason@sibleybikedepot.org
Saint Paul’s Smart-Trips helps visitors and locals find alternative travel and commuter options. Their website provides info about
· Bike locker information & locations
· Metro Transit’s Bike and Ride program
* Biking and walking maps
· Midway Biking and Walking Maps
· Downtown Bike Parking & Lockers Map
Online Bicycle Route Finder:
Luckily the bike-friendly cities are easy for families to bike on. We started out with our little one in a Burly. By the time he was 5 he graduated to a half-bike and now that he’s 9 he rides his own bike. I’ve blogged about Twin Cities bike-a-thons, festivals, and other events in the past. Let me give a shout out for the Saint Paul Classic Bike Tour coming up on Sunday, Sept 12, 2010.
Sign up as an individual, family or group for traffic-free glee, five options from 15 to 54 miles long, music at every stop, and beautiful tree-lined streets and bridges over the Mississippi River.
I love my city!