I want to send some love back to one of my favourite cities in America – Minneapolis, Minnesota. I grew up not far from here (anyone see the movie Fargo?) and with much of my family dotted around the Twin Cities (the nickname of St. Paul and Minneapolis) – I get to visit atleast once a year. Over the years, Minneapolis has become the hub of cycling in America and it has a lot to be proud of. But you guys need to understand – this place is COLD. We are talking 40 below zero cold (note – this is when Celsius and Fahrenheit meet). And yet, you have people cycling all year round.
Steven Friedman did a great article on cyling in Minneapolis and a resident told him – ‘If I happen to be riding and my freewheel freezes up, which it tends to do here on the grim and purgatorial north-central plains of Minnesota, don’t just stand there and stick your thumb out. Flip your bike over. People will see that and feel sorry for you and help. People around here know that if you get stuck in the cold, you could die.’ Ladies and gentleman, this is America’s top cycling city (and I’m proud to say, a part of the world where I’m from).
Behind the bikeable icy streets – what you have is a supportive city. Friedman lists some of the statistics -
- Between them, Minneapolis and St. Paul have 84 miles of dedicated bike paths and 44 miles of designated bike lanes on streets. The city has plans to install another 40 miles
- Every bus and train has bicycle-carrying capability
- Every office building in Minneapolis is required by law to provide bicycle storage, and the city funds half the price of every bike rack any business installs
- Despite having more bicycle parking than any city in the country, transportation planners want to install $250,000 worth of new racks
- Minneapolis is trying its version of a city-bike program: One thousand bicycles, complete with headlights and taillights, will be set up at 75 locations throughout the city. They’ll be accessible with the swipe of a credit card at solar-powered kiosks, returnable at any location, and the cost will be $5 a day or $50 a year.
- There are places like Freewheel Bike’s Midtown Bike Center, a mostly city-funded coffee house/repair center/bike shop on the Greenway. Inside, there is bicycle storage (which costs $110 a year) and low-cost showers for cyclists who commute to downtown (office buildings, trains and buses are just steps away). Also, there is a replica of the rack found on every city bus, so you can try putting your bikes on
- Some grocery stores stock free bike pumps, along with free bike tools including box wrenches, hexes, pedal levers, headset tools and a stand on to hang your bike.
- Things like the Cyclopath bike route finder
- And a pretty dang cool bike culture (check out Art Crank - a poster party for bike people!!!)
If America had free health care, I would love to move back with my Saracen in tow and roam the friendly streets of Minneapolis.