Minneapolis may have been named one of America's most bike-friendly cities for the last several years, but so far most commuters (perhaps afraid of traffic accidents) have shied away from two-wheeled transportation.
According to a new report from the City of Minneapolis, though, years of infrastructure investment and good press seem to be paying off: bicycling in Minneapolis increased by 56 percent over the last six years. The study was prepared by the City of Minneapolis Bicyclist and Pedestrian Count Report 2012.
Women made up 24 percent of cyclists, the study found.
The trend is in line with others around the region—Transit for Liveable Communities and Bike Walk Twin Cities report that biking is up by 51 percent across the Twin Cities. The same study found that more cyclists are using new bike lanes and routes, like the Bryant Ave Bike Boulevard.
The study also reported that adults are less likely to ride their bikes on sidewalks—an often unsafe and, in some business districts, illegal practice—when there is a well-designed bikeway available on that same street. In a press release announcing the study, city officials lauded this trend, saying well-used bike lanes calm traffic, make cyclists more predictable and visible, and keep pedestrians from having to worry about dodging bikes.
“People are reacting to the network changes that have been made over the past couple years. Bicycling is not only increasing overall, but people are deciding to use the infrastructure improvements that are being made,” Simon Blenski, of the City of Minneapolis bicycle/pedestrian section, said in the same press release.
Details about the study, from the City of Minneapolis:
The figures are based on annual counts conducted in September. The City of Minneapolis conducts annual counts at 30 benchmark locations for bicyclists and 23 locations for pedestrians. BWTC counts bicyclists and pedestrians at 40 benchmark locations, including locations in St. Paul, St. Louis Park, and Falcon Heights. This ongoing collection of annual data about bicycling and walking supplements existing data on motorized traffic to develop a more complete picture of overall traffic behavior in our communities.
The annual count effort would not happen without the support of volunteers. In 2012, BWTC worked with 57 volunteers who provided 144 total hours of counting, and the City of Minneapolis Public Works Department worked with 92 volunteers who provided 188 total hours of counting. Each volunteer is required to attend a training session to help ensure that count results are consistent and reliable.