Report: Minneapolis bicycling continues to increase

The city’s top-three bike traffic areas are near the University campus.

Report: Minneapolis bicycling continues to increase

Brian Arola

 

Over the years, Minneapolis has made itself into one of the top bicycling cities in the U.S.

Bicycling has increased in Minneapolis steadily over the last several years and in 2011 was cited as one of nine North American cities experiencing a “bicycling renaissance.”

In 2007, the Twin Cities was one of four U.S. communities chosen to receive $28 million in federal funds to increase bicycling in the metro area. Bike Walk Twin Cities allocated the funding to increase bicycling.

Since then, bicycling has increased 51 percent in the Twin Cities and 56 percent in Minneapolis, according to the 2012 BWTC report released late last month.

The increase in biking has come as funds were used to build more than 75 miles of new bikeways and sidewalks.

The increase over the past six years is encouraging, said Hilary Reeves, spokeswoman for Transit for Livable Communities, which allocated the funding to BWTC. She said the results can show Congress that money given to communities to enhance bicycling is being spent well.

“To see the increase is a definite validation that the funding [is working],” she said.

The BWTC bike count consisted of Minneapolis and adjacent communities. The report found a 1.8 percent increase in bike traffic from 2011-12, while Minneapolis specifically found a larger 6 percent increase over the same time.

Reeves said the discrepancy could be attributed to bad weather on the count days.

Women on wheels

Along with total bicycling numbers, the BWTC count measured the number of women bicyclists at each location, with streets near the University of Minnesota ranking highly.

The bike count’s top three bicycle locations in the city are all near the University, with the Washington Avenue Bridge topping the list for the fourth straight year.

Riverside Avenue, near the West Bank campus, saw the highest percentage of women bicyclists. Of all the bicyclists counted on that street, 38 percent were women, well above the 24 percent average across all locations.

Will Mackin, service coordinator at the Hub West Bank, said he sees a lot of women bicycling near Riverside. He said improvements in infrastructure could have caused the increase in women biking in the area.

“They totally redid Riverside Avenue over the last two years, so there’s a lot better bike lanes and marking,” he said.

Mackin also said Riverside’s location between multiple college campuses contributes to a high number of bicyclists.

Areas to improve

Though Minneapolis is an example of a booming bicycle city, an analysis by Rutgers University and Virginia Tech — which also named the city among those in a “bicycling renaissance” — said growth in cycling has been relatively slow nationally.

“The boom in cycling … has been limited to a few dozen cities which have implemented a wide range of programs to aggressively promote cycling,” the analysis said.

And while Minneapolis beats out other cities, some say improvements can still be made to the city’s bike infrastructure.

Architecture junior Jenny Ackerson commutes to campus by bike from the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood and said money could be spent on filling in potholes.

She also noted that going over the Washington Avenue Bridge can be difficult with so many bicyclists and pedestrians crossing paths, so more funding for signs and education would be helpful.

“It could be more heavily designated that bikes should stop at pedestrian crossings and pedestrians should only cross at certain areas,” she said.