The Best Bike Cities in North America: Minneapolis, Minnesota

You don’t have to give up the amenities of a large urban environment just because you prefer traveling on two wheels over four

Minneapolis, Minnesota.     Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Cold winters can’t cramp the style of Minneapolis cyclists. Quite the opposite, in fact. This tight-knit community of bicyclists is the envy of many in the North American cycling crowd.

For starters, there’s One on One Bicycle Studio, where members of the local cycling crowd gather to share stories, fix bikes, and enjoy some caffeinated brew from Go Coffee. Picture smiling faces laughing about riding through a blizzard or on a recent New Belgium Brewery Tour de Fat, which makes a big stop here each year. Or maybe you’ll overhear a conversation about someone’s latest submission to Filmed by Bike or their photo in a Minneapolis Presents calendar, which features pinup gals from the local bike community.

There’s a Minneapolis Tweed Ride—check out their blog for some amazing photos of participants dressed in traditional British cycling attire and classic bikes. In the winter, you can attend the famed annual bike messenger alleycat race, the Stupor Bowl—visit Cycle Twin Cities for images and video from this year’s race, which took place in February—or an ice bike race. June often features an Open Streets celebration of car-free culture on roads blocked off to traffic. And you might even be lucky enough to catch a bike polo game or two. Even more events and cultural insights can be found on the Minneapolis Bike Love website.

The bike-friendly Mayor R.T. Rybak helped Minneapolis achieve silver-level Bike Friendly Community status from the League of American Bicyclists in 2008 and gold in 2011. Minneapolis was also named the top bicycling city by Bicycling magazine in 2010.

Mill City’s 34 miles of dedicated on-street bike lanes and 56 miles of off-street commuter trails help residents and visitors navigate to the many attractions this city has to offer, such as the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, the Stone Arch Bridge, and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. It doesn’t hurt that the City of Lakes is relatively flat. For when you’re in need of a boost, though, buses and the light rail LRT trains in Minneapolis are equipped with racks.

Then there’s always the option to pick up a bike share bike from Nice Ride Minnesota, which launched in 2010 and offers 1,200 rental bikes at 116 stations. In its first season of operations, Nice Ride saw over 100,000 trips, which doubled to 217,000 rides in 2011.

Riding in the winter is no obstacle. The Midtown Greenway, which connects thousands of commuters each week during the summer months from the Mississippi River to the western suburbs of Minneapolis, is snow plowed. So too is the Cedar Lake Regional Trail, America’s first bicycle freeway and a rail-to-trail that runs from downtown Minneapolis to Minnesota State Highway 100 in St. Louis Park after passing under Target Field, home of the Minnesota Twins baseball team. In other words, no matter when you might be in Minneapolis, you have no excuse not to ride.

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