Minneapolis commuters get some Canadian love…

A nice article about one of my very favorite world cities — Minneapolis — caught my eye today. Here it is, straight from the Winnipeg Free Press:

Think it’s futile to build up a massive cycling network because of frosty winter temperatures?

One of Winnipeg’s U.S. neighbours has proven a bit of snow and sub-zero winds don’t mean a city can’t be a top cycling spot.

Minneapolis is at the forefront of urban cycling and is among a handful of North American cities considered leaders in building a network of paths that encourage recreational and commuter travel. About 3.5 per cent of Minneapolis residents bike to work, and the city is on track to increase that to seven per cent in the next two years.

Take a look at the full article by clicking here.

It has long mystified me that many of the top bike-friendly cities in the U.S. are plagued with less-than-favorable weather. Minneapolis has cold and snow, Portland has a lot of wetness, Chicago gets downright cold and windy…meanwhile, bike commuters exist in relatively tiny percentages in more fair-weather areas. Florida and California should be at the top of the heap for year-round bicycling dominance, but they’re not. As the article above points out, it’s not just about weather, but the attitudes and forethought of city planners that make or break a city when it comes to bicycle friendliness. And, of course, the character of the riders themselves…a heaping helping of “can do” attitude goes a long way in beating the weather nasties.


7 Comments

  1. RANTWICK September 13, 2012 7:18 am 

    I have enjoyed riding in winter for several years now in London, Ontario, Canada. Winnipeg is way colder, but drier, which can be a plus… Minneapolis is different from my home town in that they plow the MUPs. London doesn’t do that as a rule… I’m a little conflicted about plowing the paths…

    I wrote that post in 2009, though, and I see way more winter cyclists than I used to now.

  2. Rob E. September 13, 2012 8:35 am 

    It does seem like the top cities for cycling don’t enjoy the optimal weather for it… maybe. I live in the south and ride all year, and I love that I can ride all year, but for about half the year it’s just not as pleasant as I would like. It’s just the opposite half from Minneapolis. One thing about cold weather is that you can usually find the right combination of clothing to regulate your temperature. When it’s 90 and humid, there’s only so many clothing items you can remove before the authorities step in.

  3. Ghost Rider September 13, 2012 1:18 pm 

    Rob E. — hey, that’s a good point. Just because it is warm and sunny doesn’t necessarily mean it’s actually pleasant to ride — and I know this from living 20 years in Florida.

  4. BluesCat September 13, 2012 4:39 pm 

    Yeah, I’ve thought about riding naked in Phoenix …

    The whole state of Arizona should be a bicycling mecca, but it isn’t. The problem isn’t so much the weather, but the politics.

  5. Suzanne S. September 15, 2012 7:19 am 

    Coming from warm Florida and now in Chicagoland, I definitely prefer riding in mild and cool weather…and am pretty sure I ride faster here too! I liked the overview of bicycling progress in various cities mentioned in the article. I love that Mpls plows bike trails! Anybody know if Chicago plows the bike paths- Lakefront, North Channel Trail, etc…? I’ve only had brief forays to biking snowy winter here – plowed off-road paths definitely make it more enticing tho.

  6. Justin September 17, 2012 10:12 am 

    Awesome, thanks for that article! As a recent immigrant to Minneapolis it really makes me excited to see things like this! I think the thing that makes riding and commuting year round happen here (despite the cold weather) is that people here just love being outdoors. It’s much more a way of life than where I came from (Cedar Rapids, IA). I’m pretty sure there are more people outside in just one of the major parks in Minneapolis on a cold rainy afternoon, than there are in ALL the city parks on a nice day in Cedar Rapids.

    Sorry to be a couple days late with the comment, I took a long weekend to enjoy 100 miles on the Paul Bunyan Trail up north!

  7. listenermark September 17, 2012 8:45 pm 

    What Rob E. said. I live in North Texas where we have been enjoying summer temps in excess of 110 degrees. Bring on the “cold” weather!

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