An All-Too-Brief Look at Minneapolis Bike Culture

Last week, I was able to travel with my family to the great city of Minneapolis for a family obligation. I hadn’t been there since 1982, and since then a LOT of things have changed — including Minneapolis’s growing reputation as one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the United States.

That reputation is well-earned…there are bicycles EVERYWHERE. Heck, I even saw bicycle parking at the airport! Cyclists of all shapes, sizes and disciplines were present pretty much everywhere I went around the city — from sleek fixies and hip young riders to kids to hardcore commuters, roadies and everyone in between. Ah, what a refreshing change from my own city, where I mostly see “guys on bikes” and myself.

Anyhow, we shot a bunch of pictures and stopped at some of the hotbeds of the Minneapolis bike “scene”…concentrating on the vibrant neighborhoods in the Lyn Lake/Uptown area.

First off, this is a typical street scene in south Minneapolis: bikes locked up everywhere. There were bikes on racks, bikes on poles, bikes on porch railings, in yards and every other conceivable location. My friend and tour guide Laura insists that “it’s like this all year-round”, not just when the weather is nice!

street scene

We stopped by Cars R Coffins Coffee Bar/Cykel Garage to see if we could meet Hurl Everstone, who had promised the Bikecommuters.com crew a few months back that he’d submit a commuter profile for us. No luck…he had the day off. Still, we checked the place out and got a cup of badass hot chocolate, too!

my crew

The tiny CRC Coffee Bar is packed to the gills with bike culture — bikes and parts for sale crammed everywhere they’d fit. One thing that caught my eye in particular were a pair of beautiful vintage cruisers hanging from the rafters:

cruise

Walking further down Lyndale Avenue and after eating a spectacular breakfast at The Egg & I, we spotted this bike rack…one of dozens we spotted peppering the community. It just so happened that this day was the day Minneapolis celebrated Bike to Work Day and was early enough that a lot of folks were still riding to work, so the racks weren’t full. But, they were everywhere — no worries about finding a suitable lockup point in this area!

lockup

My wife spotted this cute fixie locked up on the street — a springtimey slice of delicious watermelon:

watermelon

Strangely enough, I’m coveting some pink rims for a bike now!

Later on in the week, we stopped in at The Alt , a legendary bike shop and a great place to hang out. I told the employees that I wished they were MY local shop, and I meant it — friendly folks who are really passionate about bikes. The Alt was STUFFED with bikes, snowboards and goodies galore, and also serves as one of the primary dealers for the new Handsome Cycles brand. I wasn’t able to check out any Handsome Devils in person, though, because they were being featured in a display at another great Minneapolis shop called One on One Bicycle Studio. Next time I’m in town, I’ll make it down to the Warehouse District to check out One on One.

the alt

More bikes on the street, and the Minneapolis Re Cycle. I didn’t get a chance to go inside, but I heard good things about the place.

re cycle

And a parting shot of some fixed-gear riders heading down Nicollet Avenue in front of excellent German restaurant Black Forest Inn.

nicollet

We only got to spend a few days in the city, but what we saw blew us away — bike-friendly infrastructure galore and more importantly, people taking advantage of it. I spoke to many bike commuters while walking the streets Uptown, and they raved about the city’s efforts to encourage transportational cyclists.

Although I didn’t get a picture of it, it seemed like the must-have bicycle accessory in Minneapolis is a milk crate strapped on. I saw dozens of bikes rockin’ milk-crates (after all, America’s Dairyland is right next door)…so, if you want to channel some of the Minneapolis bike spirit, get your own and wear it proudly!

I’m looking forward already to my next visit — the Mini Apple is a fantastic place…diverse, friendly and very cosmopolitan. And they love bikes up there — can it get any better?!?


19 Comments

  1. Dottie May 23, 2009 9:21 pm 

    Interesting write up – now I want to visit Minneapolis!!

  2. peteathome May 24, 2009 5:43 am 

    Minneapolis is an outdoor town year-round. The town is crisscrossed with cross country ski trails. In the winter, people get around by both skis and bikes.

  3. Ghost Rider May 24, 2009 5:58 am 

    Skis? Holy cow…I wonder if there is a “skicommuters.com” site!

  4. Doohickie May 24, 2009 9:46 am 

    Good writeup. It looks like Fort Worth could look… someday. Things are pretty good here and getting better, but we’re nowhere near as big on bikes as Minneapolis.

  5. Paul May 24, 2009 5:45 pm 

    That coffee shop looks fun! Great way to recycle the bicycle! I also really like the “art” bike racks when populated by bikes, which is far more interesting to look at than a bunch of dumb cars and trucks in a boring, depressing parking lot… still way too many of those.

  6. Trisha May 24, 2009 8:34 pm 

    Nice! I have been considering a Mpls road trip for the summer to see family; looks like a must-do.

  7. meligrosa May 25, 2009 4:55 pm 

    so cool, Id love to visit the twin cities and its wonderufl bike culture the world of the interwebz and blogging has shown me. and coffee. Im so sold ;D
    good post! cheers xo/m

  8. Karen May 25, 2009 8:22 pm 

    Helpful post. Minneapolis has been one of my fantasy relocation sites since The Mary Tyler Moore Show – and of course, I admit to being a weekly listener to Prairie Home Companion for many years. I’d only recently heard about their great bike infrastructure so that raises it to about number 3 or 4 on my top 10 of places I think I’d like to live. Keep your readers posted on other city reviews.

  9. db May 26, 2009 6:24 am 

    I’m lucky — my brother lives in St. Paul, so I’ve been to a couple places that you’ve been, plus some that you missed (One on One is fantastic). I’ll mirror what you said: the people of the Twin Cities are very focused on making the bike a part of life there. It’s fun to go up there and hang out.

  10. Marrock May 26, 2009 12:35 pm 

    Milkcrates FTW!

  11. K May 26, 2009 5:30 pm 

    This is my neighborhood and I love it. Transplants to Minneapolis have told me again and again that it is a “best kept secret” and the more I visit other cities, the more I realize how great I have it.

  12. Champs May 27, 2009 10:45 am 

    Yikes, I’m surprised there are no spy shots of my apartment considering the way you circled around the place.

  13. Ghost Rider May 27, 2009 11:38 am 

    Champs…this is a family site. I can’t share those spy photos with the rest of our readers! πŸ˜‰

    Seriously, if only I’d known, I would have banged on your door.

  14. kuando May 29, 2009 4:31 pm 

    Glad you liked our town

  15. Ellen June 3, 2009 9:56 am 

    Well, I see a long weekend trip to the Twin Cities is definitely in order. Great pictures for those of us from Florida [with NO bike infrastructure]!

  16. degoba August 12, 2009 11:10 pm 

    Cool write up. I love the Twin Cities. St. Paul is a hidden gem as well.

  17. Rip September 17, 2009 9:47 am 

    thanks for the great write-up, we really are proud of our bike community. for those of you now interested in visiting for a bike ride, check out mplsbikelove.com to find group rides, bike friendly businesses, advice, and other bike news. For the brave (not me) come in the winter πŸ˜€

  18. Matt September 17, 2009 11:50 am 

    Greenway, our best gem, I hope you made a trip on the bike super highway. If you didn’t, then you really missed out.

    Glad you enjoyed it. I moved here from NYC and it is night and day.

  19. Paul in Minneapolis November 17, 2010 1:59 pm 

    Minneapolis / St. Paul is #5 for aggressive, dangerous and lawless motorist – this includes the police. I wish I had known this before I moved here.
    Yes, there are lots of cyclist commuting and utility riding, but the lawlessness keeps many from riding.
    On the good side – My morning commute for 1.5 years- I have trained the motorist to follow the laws. No more trying to force me off the roads. swerveing in front of me and jamming the brakes…. or hitting me while stopped at a red light and then running.
    It is a real trip up here… Really!

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