Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

A few things Minneapolis has that we don’t – Updated

Posted by on April 8th, 2010 at 1:51 pm

“The real strength of Minneapolis is its absolutely gorgeous, truly world-class off-street path system. Each has separate space for pedestrians. I biked on a half dozen wide, gorgeous separated bike-ped bridges.”
— Mia Birk, CEO of Portland-based Alta Planning

In the wake of Portland losing the #1 ranking in Bicycling Magazine that we’ve owned since 1995, I’ve been thinking about what Minneapolis has that we don’t have.

I’ve come up with a few things.

Lots of Off-Street Trails
This is probably the best thing going for Minneapolis’ bikeway system. They’ve got 84 miles of off-street trails (like our Esplanade and Springwater Corridor) that connect through their metro area. Take the Midtown Greenway for instance, a 5.5 mile former rail corridor that can get you all the way across town.

Portland bike planning expert and author Mia Birk , who’s been all over the world designing bikeways for her company Alta Planning + Design, agrees. She told me the other day:

“The real strength of Minneapolis is its absolutely gorgeous, truly world-class off-street path system. Each has separate space for pedestrians. I biked on a half dozen wide, gorgeous separated bike-ped bridges.”

To rival Minneapolis’ off-street paths, Portland needs to get real about the Sullivan’s Gulch and North Portland Greenway trails.

The Midtown Greenway Trail
(this is what my dreams of
Sullivan’s Gulch look like.)
(Photo: City of Minneapolis)

The Non-motorized Transportation Pilot Program
Minneapolis is one of five lucky cities that scored this a $25 million earmark in the federal transportation bill that passed in 2005 (and that was recently extended by the Obama Administration) specifically to fund biking and walking infrastructure.

Birk says, “The federal infusion has clearly been a catalyst for a major improvement.”

Transit for Livable Communities
This non-profit organization is the administrator of the federal money mentioned above. Through Bike Walk Twin Cities, Transit for Livable Communities oversees funding of bike projects and programs. Founded about the same time (1996) and with about the same number of staff (13) as Portland’s Bicycle Transportation Alliance, TLC advocates for biking, walking, transit, and “thoughtful development.” Unlike the BTA, the work of TLC is not constrained by a bike-only focus.

Public Bike Share (coming soon)
In June, with a $1.5 million grant from Uncle Sam (see above), the City of Minneapolis will launch the most ambitious public bike sharing program in the United States. Their NiceRide bike share program will have 1000 bikes available at 75 kiosks throughout downtown Minneapolis.

The City of Portland has put a considerable amount of effort and resources into their bike share plans, including a public demonstration from leading bike share vendors last summer. But as of now, they’ve put the plans on the shelf. Steve Hoyt-McBeth is the PBOT staffer handling the project. He says, “We’re still interested in bike sharing, but I think it’s fair to say we’re moving forward cautiously.”

The Wirth Off-Road Trail.
(Photo: City of Minneapolis)

Single Track Mountain Bike Trails
As pointed out by a commenter and Minneapolis resident Julie Kosbab, there are several mountain bike trail corridors in the Minneapolis area. The most prominent, she says, is the Wirth Off-Road Trail (in photo at right). The 4.36 mile trail is near Minneapolis’ urban core and Kosbab says it’s easily accessible by area bikeways.

Portland on the other hand is still struggling to find the political will to improve single track opportunities in our nearby urban parks — especially Forest Park. A report on recent talks about that issue is forthcoming (but you can get a preview by reading the comments on the Land Rover story published yesterday).

Obviously, there’s more to a great biking city than the factors listed above. And, taken all together, I think most reasonable people would agree that — although we’ve lost our swagger of late — Portland is still the best city for biking in America. However, with cities like Minneapolis and New York City rising fast, we must do even more to maintain that title.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you โ€” Jonathan

  • hanmade April 8, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    In the photo there is a lampost lighting the biketrail. Something the Springwater corridor sorely lacks is adequate lighting.

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  • bahueh April 8, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    portland has been “humiliated”? really?
    does it know this?
    is there really a need for such contrived drama?

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  • h April 8, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    i am not about to move to MLPS… it is darn too cold in winter there… horribly wind chill… portland has relatively mild climate… Portland is still fairly bikable without new bike infrastructure…

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  • Brian April 8, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    How does Minneapolis compare to Portland in terms of meeting the needs of the mountain bike community? How far do they have to drive to ride singletrack?

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  • Julie Kosbab April 8, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    Brian: Depends on where in the metro you’re starting from. There are a number of different trail corridors for MTB in the Minneapolis area. One of the most exciting developments is a new trail being built that will facilitate access for mountain bikes used by the disabled – hand-bikes and other off-road trikes.

    The most prominent MTB in the urban core of Minneapolis is the Wirth Off-Road Trail: http://www.minneapolisparks.org/default.asp?PageID=4&parkid=448

    The trail is easily accessible by many bicycle-friendly roads as well as the off-road paths.

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  • cyclist April 8, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    Jonathan: Adding the “sort of” makes the line seem less tongue-in-cheek and more passive-aggressive, which I’m sure you didn’t intend.

    As far as the content of the article is concerned, Portland does need to focus more on off-street trails. That’s not to say that I disagree with what they’ve done these last 15 years, they’ve built a world-class bike network for relative peanuts, it’s just that the bike boulevard and bike lane building is going to start to yield smaller dividends as we keep building. The Sullivan’s Gulch and North Greenway trails would do a lot more for our infrastructure.

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  • matt picio April 8, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    Portland will never “rival” MSP’s trail system. The advantage that cities like MSP, Detroit, Milwaukee, Cleveland and Pittsburgh have is an enormous rail corridor infrastructure that is no longer fully utilized. Those cities that leverage these corridors for public space after abandonment will end up with some fantastic trail systems. Portland never had that level of development, because Portland has never had extensive industry (sawmills are outside the urban environment) at the same scale as the great industrial cities of the east.

    Cities like Chicago, St. Louis, New York, Los Angeles and Seattle will never have this kind of trail network because while nearly all of them have the extensive industrial development, the majority of that rail infrastructure is still actively in use. (especially Chicago, which is the undisputed rail capital of the nation)

    We can compare with MSP on many things, but multi-use trails will never be one of them. then again, Minneapolis will never have Mt. Hood nor the Pacific Ocean.

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  • matt picio April 8, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    Brian (#5) – rural singletrack or urban singletrack? ๐Ÿ˜‰

    In Detroit, you’ve got it in town.

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  • Matt F April 8, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    Thanks for bringing that up Brian. Jonathon, can you please add this to the article? That is, add another bullet point for better mountain bike opportunities within the city. I don’t know what Minneapolis has in this regard, but its gotta be better than here.

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  • andy April 8, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    Please. “Humiliated”? No, we’re just another North American city with a long way to go before we’re on the same level as Copenhagen or Amsterdam – just like Minneapolis, New York, Seattle, Eugene… and everybody else. There’s nothing like a little extra pressure to do better. (And what fun would it be if the Lakers won the championship every year? Let somebody else win once in a while.)

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  • rj April 8, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    Brian – there are no mountains or anything of the sort in the Midwest.. maybe you can count some spots in the Dalles, WI but that’s about it.. not an apples to apples there at all.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) April 8, 2010 at 2:38 pm

      two things,

      first, because it become such a distraction, I completed edited out the “humiliated” part of my opening line (love being my own editor!).

      second, I updated the story with a bit about single track mtb trails. Thanks for the info and suggestions. Now. Carry on.

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  • Pfeif April 8, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    Having grown up in Mpls and one it’s outlying suburbs(Burnsville) most of the nountain bike trails can be found in the suburbs. Most of the city and county parks have trails for cross country skiing that get converted to mtn biking in the summer. During the mtn bike boom of the early nineties some cities saw the light and created mtn bike specific trails just to keep the peace between hikers and mtn bikes. Burnsville was one of those cities. A mtn bike trail system was created just for Mtn bikes in 1993 in Terrace Oaks. I know as I helped to build it.

    On the down side trying to commute into Mpls can be a challenge from the south suburbs as there is currently only one bike path across the Minnesota river (I494) the other one (Cedar ave) was shut down by the DNR as the old bridge that was used is no loger considered safe. My dad says there’s plans to build a new bridge but that’s years off. Cars have four bridges to get across the river between Shakopee and Eagan that’s about 30 miles width that no one can get across by bike.

    The suburbs actuall have more bike lanes than Mpls does. Cities such as Burnsville, Savage, Apple Valley and Eagan have had bike lanes since the ’80s. The big reason why is lots of land. They just eat up farmland at huge rates and the sad part is the suburbs keep growing outward. I have family who now live out as far as Jordon, Mn and commute into Mpls, that’s about 35 miles one way. It’s just crazy. They have one lightrail line and it took them 20 years to get it in due to people fighting it. Now that they finally got it they want more. Mpls is great for families out for a ride but not so great for commuting to work.

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  • Jene-Paul April 8, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    Matt P @8:

    Not to dispute yer general theme – especially the last sentence! – but Chicago may be the very home of rail-trails (see IPT – the Illinois Prairie Trail). Connecting with the recent posts by Jonathan about projected Portland metro/regional networks in the past few days, Chicago is well-served by lengthy rail-trails on its perimeter from all directions, including the Lake Shore bikeway.

    The urban core? Kinda bombed out (really rough winters destroy the roads + dense motor traffic). When riding there, I found myself wishing it had Stumptown’s urban bike infrastructure, but also that we had the Chicago area’s numerous exurban bikeway corridors (like building the Deep Creek trail you mentioned, only ten such routes).

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  • Peter Smith April 8, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    off-street bike trails like the Midtown Greenway are great. for getting robbed. wonder if the survey took that into account?

    at one point this past year, it seemed someone was getting robbed there on a daily, and why wouldn’t a robber want to take advantage of a lovely off-street, out-of-sight trail to assault and rob and terrorize people? the midtown greenway makes minneapolis seem like oakland – Crime City USA.

    more off-street bike paths for any town that wants to up its crime rate!

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  • Jene-Paul April 8, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    …and about “things that” some other place “has that we don’t”
    No place is ever gonna be some other place. Borrow good ideas, sure.

    But when the Dutch (for instance) install versions of the Willamette Valley, Mt Hood NF, Mt Hood, the Columbia River Gorge, Forest Park, and the Oregon coast near Amsterdam, give me a call. Until then, I’ll keep stopping off at the Mississippi Fresh Pot for a cup of Stumptown when I’m halfway home.

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  • Steve B. April 8, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    @matt #8 — Don’t be so sure. We can easily turn streets into MUPs by making them carfree. Portland doesn’t have the sort of leadership required to do this yet, but we will.

    Think big!

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  • Bv April 8, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    Three Oregon cities in the top 20! Not too shabby. Not too shabby at all…but there’s still work to be done.

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  • cyclist April 8, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    Peter Smith #16; I take it you’ve never ridden the Springwater Corridor trail then? I commute on it daily, and it probably shaves 30% off of my commute time because I don’t have to stop for lights or stop signs the length of my commute. Despite the fact that it’s offroad and dark, I’ve never had a problem any of the times I’ve ridden (as early as 6am, as late as midnight).

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  • ekim113 April 8, 2010 at 4:21 pm

    Mountain biking in SE Michigan, yes, metro Detroit area, is far greater than mtn. biking here.

    Mountain biking in Oregon tends to have a high ratio of dirt road to single track miles. In SE Michigan, it is almost entirely singletrack.

    From Ann Arbor, a 45 minute drive will put you on half a dozen parcels of land with developed mtn bike trails, all of which longer than 10 miles. There is also a 15+ mile loop starting in town.

    What does 45 minutes from PDX get you? Scappoose (when it is open) or the new 6 mile shuttle run in Sandy. Mountains, check, mountain biking, umm – not quite.

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  • bill bowlrider April 8, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    Lived in MPLS for 15 years. I never gazed at a 12,000 foot tall majestic volcanic mountain while mountain biking, commuting or road riding. PDX wins in a landslide for topography, climate and natural beauty! But you are right, Jonathan, that MPLS has us beat (at least currently) when it comes to close-in mtn bike trails and off-street paved bike routes. I was shocked when I first moved to PDX to learn that Forest Park had no “legit” mtn bike trails.

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  • KWW April 8, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    The most deterministic metric should be total miles pedaled per citizen. We would still win by the fact of milder weather.

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  • Marcus Griffith April 8, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    Well we have something that Minnesota doesn’t.. Michelle Poyourow… oh wait, we don’t have that either… ๐Ÿ™

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  • emir April 8, 2010 at 4:55 pm

    As a transplant from Minneapolis I have to admit that in some ways the Twin Cities have surpassed Portland. The Greenway, the trails around the lakes, along the Mississippi river and the mountain bike trail in the heart of the town are all absolutely great. One problem is that the weather over there is awful for about 1/2 of the year and you can forget about commuting or leisure cycling. I wish that Portland develop separate roadways for bikes, just like Minneapolis.

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  • Charley April 8, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    I think competition is great for us, and we should look to improve so that we can be number one again next year!

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  • Dan Kaufman April 8, 2010 at 5:08 pm

    The original Bicycling Magazine article is too fluffy. They just threw aside the key numbers because some unquantified amount of Minneapolitans ride in the snow. Fine, throw the winter months out and then tally the numbers.

    Either you base your numbers on metrics and trends or it’s just another opinion. Opinions are fine but it devalues the authority of the list.

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  • Peter Smith April 8, 2010 at 6:14 pm

    Peter Smith #16; I take it you’ve never ridden the Springwater Corridor trail then?

    correct. and it doesn’t matter. the “you haven’t ridden some route the way I have” argument is not meaningful.

    there are myriad things i have and have not done in the world that i’m happy to support or not support based on the best available evidence — e.g. the building of a highway through a city — i’ve never participated in that, but i know i don’t like it, i don’t support it, and i don’t need to experience it to know that it’s not a good idea.

    that said, i take your word that Springwater is a very nice trail, but the question is, do you support building it, or more trails like it, instead of building an on-street bike path network?

    you _could_, if you so chose, argue something like, “Springwater is not as dangerous as Midtown because…” or “Springwater is not as dangerous as On-Street Bike Route X because…” or whatever — then we can have a real discussion.

    I commute on it daily, and it probably shaves 30% off of my commute time because I don’t have to stop for lights or stop signs the length of my commute.

    as for stopping at red lights and stop signs, to each their own.

    i honestly don’t worry about commute time — i’d much rather have a leisurely ride to work, not be terrorized by motor traffic, and i want an interesting ride, which for me, means a ride through the city on the city’s streets, not riding on a bike trail/path.

    once we get past personal preferences, though, we can start asking, “What is the best way forward?” — i.e. “What do people want?” and/or “What do people deserve?”

    I think people deserve to be able to travel through their city, on their city’s streets, and be free from the terror of motorized traffic. That’s it, basically. We bikers can figure out how to add meaning to our own lives — all we want, generally speaking, is an all-day/everyday ciclovia — and i think it’s possible, and i think we should aim for that — getting rid of cars completely should be our end goal. if, over the next decade or two, cars can be shown to peacefully coexist with humans, then we can talk about keeping them around, but unless and until that happens, we have to remove them from the immediate vicinity of humans. we bikers are not against cars, but they seem to be against us.

    If there’s some actual demand for off-street paths, or ‘nature’, or whatever it is these off-street paths might represent for people, then i’m open to talk about it, of course — i just think the best way forward is demanding freedom from terror while utilizing our existing infrastructure.

    my guess is that folks who really prefer off-street bike paths do so mainly because it frees them from being terrorized by motorized traffic, if only temporarily, and that’s a worthy goal, but i live in the city for a reason — to experience the city through its most important public spaces — its streets — i just don’t care about off-street paths that much. i have a feeling most people agree with me — that is, if we could be freed from motorized terror, then we’d rather stay on the city’s streets and have the most direct routes from Point A to Point B.

    admittedly, there’s going to be plenty of ambiguity/confusion about what exactly constitutes and on-street vs. off-street path, but my goal personally, and to the extent that i advocate for bikes, is to be able to ride where people are — following Jane Jacobs’ advice about ‘Eyes on the Street’ providing the best available physical/psychological security for people. Or if you read David Hembrow, what he likes to call ‘subjective safety’.

    Despite the fact that it’s offroad and dark, I’ve never had a problem any of the times I’ve ridden (as early as 6am, as late as midnight).

    i’ve never been pepper-sprayed, robbed, and beaten like the people of Minneapolis have on their Midtown Greenway, and i, too, have ridden bike paths in the pitch black, in the dead of night, all alone, etc. etc., and i still don’t support off-road/off-street bike paths instead of on-street bike lanes/paths/infrastructure. we bikers should never be subjected to being alone in unlighted and inherently insecure places. if i wouldn’t send my loved ones out on a path at night — my girlfriend/wife/daughter/son — then it’s not an acceptable resource to use at night, so we need a different solution. and the truth is that i would _not_ send my loved one out on many of the paths i’ve ridden at night — no way jose.

    if some town happens to get a zillion dollars to build a network of off-street paths, fine – have at it. but when it comes to deciding using money for on-street vs. off-street bicycle infrastructure, just realize the inherent weaknesses of off-street paths (security, longer distances, don’t go directly where you want to go, etc.).

    so i wouldn’t actively oppose off-street paths, but i might if they took away resources from on-street paths/infrastructure.

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  • Lazy Spinner April 8, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    Thank you for that tome, Peter. I’m happy that you are keeping it real experiencing the city as you think it should be experienced whilst espousing a 1950’s patriarchal approach to protecting the weaker women folk from the exceedingly vast population of predators that haunt our nation’s bike paths. I can’t think of a day that our local media hasn’t lead with “Murder on the MUP!!!”.

    Many of want more than sharrows and nicely painted lines on the streets. Some of us have time constraints and a need to move via bike quickly. I’m pleased that you have the sort of life that negates the power of the unmerciful clock but alot of people don’t have that luxury. We want to get to our jobs, run some necessary errands, and then return home without spending half a day to do it. We gladly leave my cars parked and use a bike. Please reward that choice with a system that creates travel efficiency similar to driving. A truly mixed system of on street amenities and bike “freeways” designed for fast travel would be wonderful. This ain’t Copenhagen nor do I want to ride 8 mph on some heavy excuse for a bike sampling the rich tapestry of our fair ‘burg or some other similar overly romanticized crap. If that’s you thing then good on you, Professor.

    I’m curious as to why you are so obsessed with imagined threats, terror, and fear? I’m sort of shocked that you ride a bike when being encased in 3500 pounds of steel, plastic, and leather would shield you better on arterials you portray as more dangerous than an African savannah or a public market in Kandahar.

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  • half pint April 8, 2010 at 7:47 pm

    i am also from mpls and can vouch for the dangers of riding the midtown greenway. i’ve heard far worse and more frequent stories about issues with riding along the greenway than i have about the springwater corridor- despite the fact that i’ve lived in pdx for the last eight years. also, i commuted in mpls in the winter and it wasn’t that bad-once you get used to it (kinda like portland).
    overall, portland has better infrastructure, but i have found that mpls is catching up in infrastructure as well as bike culture.

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  • cyclist April 8, 2010 at 8:05 pm

    Peter Smith #28:
    hat said, i take your word that Springwater is a very nice trail, but the question is, do you support building it, or more trails like it, instead of building an on-street bike path network?

    I answered you question earlier in the thread. To repeat: the on-street bike infrastructure is pretty well built out in the city. There are areas where it could be improved, and I fully support some of the new bike boulevards that have or will be coming online shortly. Unlike you, however, I can appreciate the benefits of off-street trails, and feel that they play an important role in our overall bike infrastructure. As such, I support those who back the Red Electric, North Greenway, and Sullivan’s Gulch trail.

    As an aside, your focus on terror, danger, and insecurity is almost pathological. I suspect that the vast majority of the folks here bike every day and enjoy themselves doing it.

    getting rid of cars completely should be our end goal

    Uh, yeah.

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  • Mary April 8, 2010 at 8:48 pm

    Don’t pass up the chance to build separated bike trails because of fear of crime. A busy trail polices itself.

    Yes, there have been a few robberies on the Minneapolis Midtown Greenway and the major route that feeds it, and cyclists do have to be cautious riding there near midnight. Although it runs through a neighborhood that timid cyclists would avoid even in daytime, the Greenway is disproportionately safe. And there is one less robber around since last year, when someone picked the wrong victim and ended up stabbed to death. The “Happy Slappers” who posted their Greenway attack (and other attacks elsewhere) on YouTube were promptly arrested thanks in part to local cyclists. Gentrification — thanks to the Greenway’s popularity — is changing the demographics and will probably eliminate most of the petty crime.

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  • cold worker April 8, 2010 at 9:26 pm

    when i lived in mpls i knew way too many people who had been randomly jumped and mugged. waaaay too many. so mpls has that. a housemate had a chunck of concrete hurled at him on hennepin (he got nailed and crahsed. hard). when i broke my clavicle in a snowy crash, at the ‘gunshot’ hospital downtown, some dude tried stealing my messenger bag from a friend as i was being x-rayed. the salt on the winter roads does a number on your bike. the midtown greenway is cool as it’s seperated from traffic, but it doesn’t really go anywhere (i mean, yeah, obviously it does, but likely not to where you need to go) mpls has all that too.

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  • Peter Smith April 8, 2010 at 9:53 pm

    Thank you for that tome, Peter. I’m happy that you are keeping it real experiencing the city as you think it should be experienced whilst espousing a 1950’s patriarchal approach to protecting the weaker women folk from the exceedingly vast population of predators that haunt our nation’s bike paths.

    not sure the reason for the nasty tone — that’s your call.

    as for whether or not i’m being ‘patriarchal’ in my approach to ‘subjective safety’ and paying particular attention to the comfort and safety of women, perceived and otherwise, i guess that’s open for debate. i have strong feelings about crime and in particular violent crime, and the causes for it. i don’t think anyone should ever have to be a victim of violent crime, and as such, i think we need to do everything we can to root it out, which includes making it more difficult to commit violent crimes. it’s pretty simple, in theory, but as evidenced by your response, people disagree as to the extent which we should seek to mitigate the risks for violent crime. as for me, i stand by my remarks, and add that i believe, as a society, we have not done anywhere near enough to protect everyone, and in particular women, from violent crime, and i believe the facts back up my claim, and reasonable people, after seeing those facts, will wholeheartedly agree with me. maybe your mind can’t be changed, but i doubt it.

    I can’t think of a day that our local media hasn’t lead with “Murder on the MUP!!!”.

    i think all you have to do is pay attention to what’s actually going on in the world and you’d know how right i am to focus on the epidemic that is violent crimes against women — beatings, robbery, rape, domestic violence, the all-too-common ‘kidnapped-from-the-trail-and-raped-and-tortured-and-left-to-die’ scenario — you name it. just scan google news for even a single day and see what i see, then come back here and tell me how wrong i am to focus on issues of security, in particular women’s security.

    i think some crimes are so extraordinary that we really should not tolerate them as a society, and that means…not tolerating them as a society. ideally, we take the motivation for anti-social behavior completely off the table, but until we get there, i’d be happy with simple crime prevention measures. some of these crimes destroy people’s lives in a single night — a few minutes of inattention, and lives are ruined, families devastated, etc. and that’s just the ‘big stuff’ — we haven’t even talked about street harassment, the creeps following girls home late at night — preventing girls from even stepping outside their doors at night in modern day america in ‘good parts of town’, etc. it’s unjust in the extreme.

    Many of want more than sharrows and nicely painted lines on the streets.

    i want real on-street bicycle infrastructure, but this stuff is often a good start.

    Some of us have time constraints and a need to move via bike quickly.


    I’m pleased that you have the sort of life that negates the power of the unmerciful clock but alot of people don’t have that luxury.

    i’m sure you’re busier and more important than myself and everyone else on this blog, but my record of advocating for ‘the most direct routes from Point A to Point B’ (i.e. ‘the speediest’) is so common it’s blase. in fact, i even wrote exactly that in my first comment, and i’ve made the same exact comment probably dozens of times over the past few years — on the internet, to friends, to politicians, etc. maybe it’s time to get off your high horse?

    A truly mixed system of on street amenities and bike “freeways” designed for fast travel would be wonderful.

    hey, look at that, even we can agree on some things.

    If that’s you thing then good on you, Professor.

    it’s not even Monday anymore — why are you so cranky? i can haz smartz like you?

    I’m curious as to why you are so obsessed with imagined threats, terror, and fear?

    i think i’ve answered this already, but i wouldn’t say i’m obsessed, except when it comes to riding in traffic, and i wouldn’t say the threats, terror, and fear are imagined — i’d say they’re the primary reasons why so few people in Portland and America ride bikes. or maybe it’s just that _most_ people are ‘obsessed’ and ‘imagining’ bad stuff?

    Unlike you, however, I can appreciate the benefits of off-street trails, and feel that they play an important role in our overall bike infrastructure.

    i appreciate off-street trails — i just don’t think they should be forced to “play an important role in our overall bike infrastructure” — simply put, i think our existing infrastructure should be given over to non-motorized traffic.

    As an aside, your focus on terror, danger, and insecurity is almost pathological.

    i don’t know what this means, but it doesn’t sound very nice. in any case, i stand by my comments. we need to do more to protect everyone, in particular, women.

    I suspect that the vast majority of the folks here bike every day and enjoy themselves doing it.

    this does not conflict at all with the goal of reducing violence against everyone, in particular, women.

    as for whether or not our end goal should be getting rid of cars or not, you’re very welcome to your opinion, but i’ll tell you that i’m not alone in my opinion, and it’s becoming more and more popular every day. we’ll still have cars for a couple of decades, probably and unfortunately, but their use and importance to everyday use will continue to decline. i hope i get to see the death of cars before my own death. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Don’t pass up the chance to build separated bike trails because of fear of crime. A busy trail polices itself.

    i’m with this.

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  • tony April 8, 2010 at 10:30 pm

    Wow, so many responses, I think that Mpls got it is fine. This is not a competition. I love Portland and I love Mpls. They have really different things going on. I think Its good for both cities, We need a partner and I think they are a perfect one.

    love and peace in pdx & mpls.


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  • sabernar April 8, 2010 at 11:23 pm

    Peter, how about the children? Don’t we have to protect them, too? Lots of violence on them, too. Think of the children!!!

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  • Jene-Paul April 9, 2010 at 1:02 am

    Hay-zeus! And I thought *I* was long-winded!

    Peter Smith, such a fear monger about crime-ridden off-street paths (MUPs, SUPs, rail-trails)!

    Minneapolis may well have problems in this regard, but let’s you cite some references for all this doom-saying. MSP? Chicago? LAX? NYC? Portland, Oregon? Numbers & sources?

    Bad things can happen anywhere, but experience can challenge assumptions. Your protestations sound eerily similar to the signs posted in conservative (being polite here – read racist, provincial) business owners’ shop windows protesting the extension of light rail throughout the Portland metro area (including Vantucky): “No Crime Train!”. How about some hard facts to back up the scare campaign?

    While there are Portlanders who are uncomfortable riding area MUPs after dark, there are thousands more who use them daily (and nightly) as thoroughfares which help them get where they need to go in their day. Many of these people are also confident riders in the road, such that you can sit out at the sidewalk and see them streaming along for hours at a time every day. I can’t speak about MPS, but it’s hard to see the packs of commuters in Stumptown and imagine that they’re enduring a constant horror of assault, etc. as they spin along the Springwater, the Esplanade, the Marine Dr & the I-205 bikeways. In fact, it may be the uncommonness of such negative events which makes them stand out here (not denying that sh!t happens).

    It’s good to have goals and standards, I don’t begrudge anyone aiming high. Kinda less enthusiastic about blanket condemnations and fear mongering, though. Teaching situational awareness, safety in numbers, throwing up a lamp post here and there – these are preferable to instilling terror.

    This is a blog about bike culture: the world seen through riders’ eyes (not just “hipsters,” racers, messengers, MTBers, staid suited commuters, tallbikers, moms-on-bakfietsen – but everybody who rides). I think it’s safe to say that we want our every ride to be a good one and we want to help others have the same delight and functionality in life. So let’s be buildin’ and do less scarin’, huh?

    Good luck with that erasure of private automobiles thing, too.

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  • Peter Smith April 9, 2010 at 2:07 am

    Hay-zeus! And I thought *I* was long-winded!

    guilty as charged.

    in my defense, i almost never expect to have to defend basic facts, yet here we are. and inevitably, there will be someone who is _way_ too offended at hearing something they don’t agree with, so the appropriate response is, of course, ‘Prove that the sky is up!’, or ‘But soldiers are dying in the US, too!’.

    some people just get very very angry when told something that doesn’t reflect their worldview — i’m used to it. they eventually calm down and come around.

    Peter Smith, such a fear monger about crime-ridden off-street paths (MUPs, SUPs, rail-trails)!

    fear monger? really? i’m just stating some facts — they’re stubborn things, ya know. i will say that i’m keenly interested in social justice — that’s the main reason i care about all this bike stuff. and when you advocate building MUPs instead of on-street bicycle facilities, you are effectively booting women off those MUPs at night — i’m not cool with that. i think there’s plenty of room for debate, but histrionics is not something i’m generally interested in.

    Minneapolis may well have problems in this regard, but let’s you cite some references for all this doom-saying.

    never fails. don’t know if i’d call my criticism of off-street paths ‘doom-saying’, but whatever floats your boat.

    listen, don’t take my word for it — take the word of people who have lived in Minneapolis:

    i am also from mpls and can vouch for the dangers of riding the midtown greenway. i’ve heard far worse and more frequent stories about issues with riding along the greenway than i have about the springwater corridor- despite the fact that i’ve lived in pdx for the last eight years.

    go ahead and call that person a liar or a ‘doom-sayer’ or whatever else you like — ad hominem attacks are useful when you have nothing substantial to say.

    or maybe the mpls police are just alarmist or ‘doom-sayers’ or maybe all the residents of Minneapolis are just a bunch of wimps prone to getting attacked?

    Minneapolis police issued a warning Wednesday after several bikers were robbed — some at knifepoint and one with a gun — on the popular Midtown Greenway and a connecting route.

    The safety of greenway users has been a concern since before it was even built because the middle third of the 5 1/2-mile route paralleling Lake Street lies in a former railroad trench. So extra features such as 911 call kiosks, security cameras and extra lighting were installed.

    But that hasn’t prevented about 10 attacks in recent weeks aimed at bikers on the trails. Typically, police said, they involve several men who block the trails and take backpacks, wallets, electronics and purses, but not bikes.

    even before the trail was built, there were ‘doom-sayers’ like Peter Smith out there saying, “are you sure it’s a good idea to build a bike trail below grade where users of the trail will be completely out of sight?” maybe if those doom-sayers had been taken seriously, we could have prevented a lot of crime, a lot of trauma, and even saved at least one life.

    if you search the google news archives, you’ll see a new article and/or blog post pop up ever few months for the last few years — problems with the Greenway. Citizens patrols, complaints that the cops aren’t doing enough, etc. This is all completely predictable. It all culminated when, as one commenter pointed out, an attacker was stabbed to death by a user of the Greenway who came prepared with a knife because he knew how dangerous the Greenway was.

    but you need not get all hot and bothered about Minneapolis — it’s no worse than any other city with off-street paths. if you know anything about bicycle infrastructure, you know that desolate stretches of path and/or roadway make for awesome attack locations. Buffalo, the Orange Line path in LA, Madison, Oakland, the list goes on and on — these MUPs are often inherently dangerous, especially after dark. then there’s the problem of vandalism, which y’all in Portland have seen firsthand. cops are generally powerless to police them because the paths are out in the middle of nowhere and the cops are spread too thin as is and they’re also not on bikes.

    why do you think all these bike tunnel paths have lighting and cameras installed? because the paths are inherently dangerous, particularly at night, so the hope is that lighting and videocameras will help deter crime on them. ‘doom-sayers’ like me are starting to be taken seriously.

    Good luck with that erasure of private automobiles thing, too.

    thank you! we might still need it. we’re just now starting to track car registrations within our cities — they still seem to be growing, unfortunately, but eventually they’ll level off, and then start to shrink. how quickly we can make that happen is up to us. the idea, of course, is to make it so that people don’t have to own a car to get around — we’ll be able to measure our success by mode shares, the number of car registrations (maybe per capita), etc.

    wanted to respond to one other statement that slipped by earlier:

    To repeat: the on-street bike infrastructure is pretty well built out in the city.

    i disagree. when the bike mode share hits around 40%, then i’ll be open to discussing whether or not on-street bike infrastructure is ‘pretty well built out’ or not, but until then it just seems like a bizarre statement to make.

    and i agree with this sentiment:

    @matt #8 — Don’t be so sure. We can easily turn streets into MUPs by making them carfree. Portland doesn’t have the sort of leadership required to do this yet, but we will.

    Think big!

    hear, hear! bravo on all counts. this is the kind of stuff i like to see.

    off-street paths are a way of ceding our most important rights-of-ways to cars — we shouldn’t work so hard to do that.

    we haven’t had a mayor yet propose a ’30-in-10′ for bicycle infrastructure — maybe that happens in Portland?

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  • Marcus Griffith April 9, 2010 at 2:52 am

    Peter Smith: Just to clarify, your the same Smith with the Google blog right? Maybe you should keep your manifestos on your own blog instead of being a blog troll on other site.

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  • GlowBoy April 9, 2010 at 6:31 am

    I’ve lived in Portland for 13 years, but grew up in the Minneapolis suburbs. The above posters who said that PDX can never hope to catch MSP in terms of multi-use trails are absolutely right.

    I grew up riding on these trails back in the 1970s and 1980s. There was an extensive network of them in suburbia back then, and new development has continued the tradition. Partly this is (1) as in the Northwest, the community highly values outdoor recreation. (2) Easier terrain (though rolling, not board-flat as many seem to think). (3) As mentioned above, the availability of abandoned rail corridors. (4) A stronger history of turning long river and creek corridors into parks, thanks to the Olmsted brothers’ vision. (5) A tradition of VERY low density development that at least has the upside of leaving lots of room for amenities like bike lanes and paths.

    For all the freaking out about the safety of urban MUPs, remember that (1) minneapolis is a much higher-crime city overall than Portland, so MUPs built here won’t necessarily have serious crime problems, and (2) Minneapolis has lots of other greenways that don’t have crime problems because the Midtown has unique design challenges. It’s sunk about 30′ below grade, highly separated from its surroundings and making it hard to police. And it also has underpasses EVERY BLOCK (due to its sunken grade) to allow the street grid to cross it, providing frequent cover for potential criminal activity. And it passes through some moderate-to-high crime rate areas.

    Although Minneapolis is far behind Portland in terms of on-street bike lanes in the CITY, they are building a strong network of shared streets (marked with sharrows) and IMO pay more attention to route continuity so you don’t have routes ending abruptly as much as you do here. Also, while the city may lag in bike lanes, Minneapolis’ suburbs do not. Streets have always been built wide, not only because of the lack of density constraints, but also to allow room for snowbanks to pile up without encroaching on the traffic lanes. Thus you have wide shoulders EVERYWHERE that are either rideable as-is or easily converted to bike lanes.

    And as far as singletrack mountain biking goes, once again Portland can never hope to catch up. Besides Theodore Wirth, you also have the excellent Battle Creek trail network within city limits, and well over a dozen trail networks within the suburbs, many of them (such as Eagan’s Lebanon Hills) fairly close in. Portland has about 1/4 mile in Forest Park, maybe a couple miles on Powell Butte and absolutely NOTHING in the suburbs.

    Overall it’s hard to say which city is “better” for cycling because they are so different from each other. You can easily change your weightings of what you value most, and favor one over the other. Portland is an awesome bike city (well, at least by this country’s standards) and there’s no need to get defensive and thin-skinned just because someone has challenged our supremacy. In particular, getting challenged by a city with such a different cycling situation helps focus attention on what we still DON’T do well. There’s no question things have plateaued a bit here in Portland, and maybe this will prod us to get our tails in gear again.

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  • Shane April 9, 2010 at 7:27 am

    “I think most reasonable people would agree that โ€” although weโ€™ve lost our swagger of late โ€” Portland is still the best city for biking in America. ”

    Uh, no. But as a reasonable person I would agree that Eugene is. =)

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  • Jeremy Werst April 9, 2010 at 8:21 am

    What we have that you don’t is really this:


    I could totally be biased though ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Those ‘happy slappings’ noted above were reported within a few hours of posting their videos on you-tube and arrested within days.

    The midtown greenway does have some assaults, but in actual numbers, it’s safer than walking the major 4 lane street two blocks away.

    The ‘vigilante’ group mentioned in the article originally grew out of our forum, and is now run by a local non-profit that champions that trail. They’re organized and insured and trained, have matching vests and file reports of each trip, etc. It’s made things a lot safer.

    We are also working on getting a commute partners program funded this summer which would send people down this trail and other streets in batches of 3 or more, which would also help safety both from cars and would-be muggers.

    Mostly, what is changing in Minneapolis right now is that for the first time we’re actually getting a cohesive and large community. Other cities have had a much harder time and more to fight for to get amenities, it’s resulted in a unified lobbying group.

    What we have had in Minneapolis is a very strong network allowing nearly everyone to ride at least recreationally if they want to, and transportationally if they are interested. The cars are friendly, an most of the town has stop signs all over calming auto traffic.

    So nobody has really been ‘hey, everybody, we have to go and fight for ______!!!’ This is because we’ve had it very, very good for a very long time.

    In the last couple of years, we’ve finally come together as a community and started paying attention to what’s going in, and that’s I think where the tipping point came for Bicycling magazine.

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  • cyclist April 9, 2010 at 9:23 am

    So it’s now apparent to me that Peter Smith isn’t from Portland, and doesn’t know anything about how MUPs operate here, which makes a lot of sense because his constant harping on terror and crime just don’t make a lot of sense here. Here’s a hint for you in the future Peter: conditions in one place can’t necessarily be generalized to all places. The fact that there were 10 robberies in a month in 2008 in MSP doesn’t mean that all MUPs are bad. I’d happily ride the Springwater at night here because there’s no crime threat. It’s apparent that you don’t really know anything about Portland, so why bother coming here and telling us what we should or shouldn’t do?

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  • Loren April 9, 2010 at 9:48 am

    Bicycling (Buycycling) routinely is an advertiser of cars, SUVs, Bud Light, everything carbon $$$ fiber, Rapha, Assos, Giordana, Kendall Jackson wine, etc.

    I for one really care what this demographic thinks…

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  • Anders April 9, 2010 at 10:00 am

    This ranking is complete nonsense for one simple reason: the 8 months of winter in MNPLS. Portland, despite rain and occasional snow, is VERY road bikeable year round. The magazine is just trying to shake things up and cultivate readership. Nothing more. Portland is still well on top as far as bikeable cities.

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  • Jene-Paul April 9, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    What cyclist @43 said!

    Also, where were those facts again, Peter? Never mind. (Seriously, I sometimes jerk my knees too quickly for trolls.)

    Minneapolis as portrayed by Jeremy @ #42 (and other positive posters here) sounds great to me. It ain’t Portland (and vice versa!) but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good home, too.

    And with all due respect to the rest of the world, I’d take BikePortland’s view over Bicycling Magazine any day, any how.

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  • Dan April 9, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    I’m glad Minneapolis has done some work on its cycling infrastructure. When I moved away 10 years ago it wasn’t so great. There were hardly any bike lanes, and the paths around the lakes – while OK for recreational riding (crowded, though) – weren’t very useful for commuting. I look forward to checking out some of the new development when I go back.

    I’ve never been on the midtown greenway (in its present state, that is; we used to bike along the tracks all the time when it was an active rail line) – but it’s worth noting that it does pass through some pretty sketchy neighborhoods, and it doesn’t surprise me one bit that there have been problems in some places.

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  • curlygrrl April 9, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    Excellent and thoughtful blog.

    As a proud Minneapolitan who bikes year round, I would just like to respond to comments here that Portland is inherently a better cycling city because of the milder climate. It’s true that Minnesota has harsh winters, but y’all should know that there is a mighty (and growing!) crew of cyclists who ride year round! Winter is a fact of life for all Minnesotans, but I spend much less time being cold when I’m biking as I’m warmed up within 30 seconds of pedaling, as opposed to 10-15 minutes waiting for the car to warm up when it’s -30.

    I live in one of the “sketchier” neighborhoods along the Greenway, and I only ride the Greenway during daylight. Along with the history of crimes happening there, it’s just a really vulnerable place to bike alone at night–boxed in the rail corridor, with steep banks on either side. By dark the roads are calm enough to make me personally prefer that to the Greenway.

    To the commenter who mentioned a lack of south suburban routes across the river–there is a new bike path alongside 35E in Inver Grove Heights, as well as one along the Mendota Bridge. I use either to get to my parents down in Eagan.

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  • Aaronf April 9, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    I don’t understand why Peter’s posts evoked so much hostility.


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  • Tankagnolo Bob April 9, 2010 at 6:09 pm

    We need two things for sure:

    A bicycle path to the West Side, Bearverton, etc. How about following the light rail, and then a route around the point it goes underground. There needs to be a safe route for commuters and weekenders from and to the Beaverton area.

    SINGLE TRACK !!! Lets get this one done !! Plenty of room in Forest Park to “Share the road” with others !! Plenty of “shovel ready” volunteers who know how to build trails !!

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  • Colin April 9, 2010 at 7:20 pm

    Good to see the Mini Apple get some recognition, it’s a city that has done a lot right for a long time and may be hitting the “tipping point”. Having spent 4+ years in each city, I’m suddenly inspired to offer a couple of thoughts on how each could learn from the other. Please excuse omissions or gross generalizations.

    What could PDX learn from Mpls?
    *There’s lots of ways to make biking fun and all fun is good fun: From urban singletrack (fun stuuf that’s woven into the MUP system) to tall bikes, Mpls has a wide range of fun that appeals to a wide range of people.
    *Blame “the U” and QBP: College students and outdoor industry (including bike) employees ride bikes in large numbers. At some point, many will leave the midwest and move to Portland or other poitns west/south to escape the weather and/or family.
    *A $ for parks is a $ for bikes, especially when it comes to “linear parks”. Everybody loves parks (and trails). Also, reuse of old infrastructure (i.e. Stone Arch Bridge) is never as cheap as it sounds but it can create an iconic image.
    *Keep putting up signs b/c consistent signage helps.
    *Keep working towards “bike stations” and bike sharing – they fill an important niche.
    *Being flat helps.

    What can Mpls learn from PDX?
    *How to drive
    *How to drive (really)
    *It helps to do things differently than Portland.
    *Have bike racks everywhere. Like Portland.
    *Without federal earmarks, you have to make hard choices when it comes to local $$$.
    *Keep striping bike lanes – they work better once more people use them and 1 person riding on the street makes more of an impression than 5 riding on off-street paths.
    *”Interested but concerned” – and yes, planning for them may take you in a different direction than your hardcore year-rounder would prefer.
    *At a certain point, CM just makes people mad.
    *3 letters: U-G-B. Investing in biking and transit (and walking) is good and they feed off each other, but you need to have the land use piece in place to get the most out of them.
    *No matter what you do, eventually you will be booted out of the top spot simply b/c “Minneapolis Fatigue” will have set in.

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  • […] Urban mountain biking trails are also important to Eugene’s overall status as a bike friendly city.ย  One of the areas Portland was highlighted asย lacking in their Platinum status was in their lack of mountain biking trails. This is also one of the reasons why Portland was ousted from its 15 year run as Bicycling Magazine’s #1 bicycling city by Minneapolis, which has several urban mountain bike trail corridors. […]

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  • Mary April 10, 2010 at 7:29 am

    Nice of Peter Smith to be so interested in my safety, but I am actually much safer biking across Minneapolis on the Greenway than on the streets.

    And yes, I have had rocks thrown at me (while stopped to sweep up broken glass), and my husband has been attacked twice by thugs on the Greenway or the major connecting trail — escaping with good stories and no real damage.

    We know the risks. We also know the risks of sharing the major east-west street routes with drunk drivers, cell-phone users, and left-turning cars, because sometimes we do that, too. We know the inconvenience and hazard of stopping every couple blocks for traffic lights that are timed for automotive traffic.

    Like hundreds of other riders, we choose the Greenway. If that number of cyclists tried to ride on Lake Street (parallel and just a block to the south) or Franklin (parallel and 8 blocks north), there would be a lot more assaults, a lot more collisions, and a lot more people not having fun.

    On the Greenway, the predators we are actually most likely to encounter are the large hawks who sit on the fences, and the patches of red are more likely to be tulips or zinnias than blood.

    Peter Smith cites my comment on the robber who was stabbed to death as evidence that the Greenway is dangerous: the intended victim was walking in one of the less-secure areas after midnight. He took out one robber (and got his accomplice locked up) and gave other potential perps something to think about. How does that make us less safe, Mr. Smith?

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  • matt picio April 12, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    Jene-Paul (#15) – Thanks for the correction. My point was really more to the effect that unlike most cities, Chicago can’t fully use the existing rails for trail purposes, because so many of them are in use. That certainly doesn’t discount the fact that Chicago has lots of rail right-of-way that can (and is) be used for trails. Chicago and St. Louis have a few extremely rail-dense areas that can’t effectively be converted, though, due to large yards, junctions, and other active rail infrastructure. Glad to hear that Chicago has a lot of active projects, I’ve spent a lot of time there as a pedestrian, but it was before I really started biking again.

    Steve B. (#18) – I stand by my statement. Streets have an entirely different character than MUPs (which is not a bad thing) I look forward to seeing more car-free streets.

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  • BB April 12, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    How about ICE racing (frozen lake) and bike polo?

    When you get off the bike you can use the skyway system.

    bicycle tunnel? (under twins stadium)

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  • Jay Tegeder April 13, 2010 at 6:58 pm

    I’m originally from Minneapolis but moved all the way across the river to Saint Paul. We always get left out when people talk about Minneapolis. It pisses us off but this time it’s okay. Saint Paul lags way behind Minneapolis in bikeability. It’s a nice 31 mile loop from my house around the Greenway and back. I ride it all the time. But, winters do suck for biking here! Anything below 10F, forget it!

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  • Sub Zero April 13, 2010 at 10:00 pm

    To Pfeif. As a commuter in St. Louis Park, a first ring suburb of MPLS, I have to say that the only real crappy commuting in the twin cities is from the south (Burnsville/Apple Valley) due to the Minnesota River. Commuting from Twin City to Twin City is easy and if you are lucky enough to commute from the West Burbs you have it made. It is safe with easy access to on-street or off-street bike lanes.
    I am lucky enough to live one block from the Greenway, which will only have a LRT stop on either side of my ‘hood by 2015ish, but I have access to virtually everywhere in the Twin Cities by bike. I can ride my MTB to Wirth without ever hitting a street, except to cross. I can now ride my bike from my house to a Twins game without traveling on a street.
    Its friggin amazing!!
    I say “buck up” and ride year round. I set up a SS MTB for winter riding and have ridden in -9 with snow on the ground. I am usually shocked as to how many year round bikers I see around here!
    I am glad we have cities competing for liveability. I am especially glad MPLS has hit #1. I think we deserve it this time around. I would like to see other cities attempting to outreach us…its good for the whole country!!
    I would also like to add that Portland rocks….let the games begin!!!

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  • Shad April 14, 2010 at 6:20 am

    Great article. Not only because I am from and still live in Minneapolis, but because it was a very non-biased article about the facts. For some reason I was expecting some sort of rant when someone sent me here to read. I have not been to Portland, but a friend of mine was just there last summer and he says it is one of the most progressive cities he has ever been to. That is awesome! I will be in Seattle this summer, mostly for the mountain biking up there, but I will certainly make sure next out west trip I do includes Portland.

    No mention of the thriving BMX and Freeride scene here in Minneapolis, but if you want to see some about it, check the f-bom blog at http://f-bom.blogspot.com/ Heck, out very own Dustin Griess is touring the country competing with the top BMXers in the world!

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  • SeanH April 14, 2010 at 6:58 am

    This ranking is complete nonsense for one simple reason: the 8 months of winter in MNPLS

    Eight months? Really? I am guessing you have actually never spent a winter in the Twin Cities.

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  • Dan I. April 14, 2010 at 9:26 am

    Born and bred Minnesotan here. I’ve been to Portland and have friends there. So this is my take….

    Mpls/StPaul is a great place for both road and mtb – really! Overall city is getting more congested, but still tame compared to Chicago, St. Louis and other Midwest cities. Yes, besides the dedicated trails in the city and suburbs, we have lots of roomy roads with wide shoulders. Personally, I almost never use the trails because I like the roads better. Something for everyone really. You can easily ride from the center of the city out through suburbs and into rural countryside for even better riding. The road network is extensive, with lots of back roads and alternative routes. Only one hour away in the St. Croix and Mississippi river valley regions is fabulous riding with bigger elevations and seemingly endless routes on quiet backroads.

    Local mountain biking has improved considerably in recent years, in a large part due to the efforst of MORC, our local IMBA affiliated group. Lots of new singletrack has been built in place of what once was a limited set of trails that followed XC ski trails mostly. None of this matches the technical singletrack that you can find in Oregon/Washington, but it is right in town and good fun for an hour or two of riding.

    Yes, winter is a reality here. I’d say it’s more like 4 to 5 months of snow and ice. Many ride all year though. Some mtb trails are packed down by people to enable winter riding on trails. Also, you’ll probably find a lot of people that will say they’d rather ride in cold dry weather than rain.

    But, the other thing I’ll say is that Mpls/StPaul is THE BEST urban area in the US for XC skiing, which many cyclists simply trade to doing in the winter (including me). 100s of kilometers of well-groomed trails within the area, some trails lighted for night skiing, and it is consistently cold thus providing good snow conditions, and it’s not at altitude! For me the cycle is usually a) Start riding bike March-ish, b) MTB riding gets going May-ish, c) Hit it hard on the bike thru Sept, d) CX racing thru Nov, e) XC ski Dec to March, f) rinse and repeat!

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  • Zak April 14, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    What no mention of the Hotness mtb girls who randonly flash their tatas on the mtn trails during night rides. I guess ONE more thing MPLS has that Portland doesn’t, be very jealous!

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  • Ryan April 14, 2010 at 9:30 pm

    There is a reason Mpls and Portland rank 1 and 2 in most biking rankings (usually Portland 1). They both are great biking cities. Cyclists can feel lucky to live in either of these cities.

    Mpls has a lot of singletrack (we no longer ride cross country ski trail) in or near the city. There is a 4.5 mile trail in Mpls, almost 50 miles within a 25 minute drive of Mpls, and another 30 miles in the next 35 minute ring. 20 new miles of singletrack are being built in 2010-11. By summer 2011, there will be over 100 miles of singletrack within an hour drive of Downtown Mpls. Not too bad for a metro area of over 3 million. Much of this trail built and maintained by the Minnesota Off-Road Cyclists (MORC).

    The paved bike trails are also endless in the Minneapolis area.

    Although, I love Portland and I am so jealous that you have mountains and the coast so close to where you are at! I’d love to see mountains around Mpls.

    As far as winter riding goes, that’s what studded tires and Surly Pugsleys are for!

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  • Matt April 18, 2010 at 8:13 pm

    For all you PDXers, there is a strong 12 month bike community in Minneapois.

    The city plows many if not most of the major bike paths and you would be shocked how many people bike in the middle of the winter.

    So don’t say that PDX deserves to be #1 based on MSP only being a 8 month bike season. FYI, we had 0 snow fall since mid/late Feburary and bare pavement since mid Feb without plowing.

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  • […] of trail stewardship, the need for a community to share its resources, and how Eugene – like Portland – is being left behind by the rest of the country when it comes to being “bike […]

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  • […] We ran through our presentation, telling the story of the bicycle movement and recent transportation activism in Portland with photos and movies. A panel of four local bicycling advocacy rock stars joined us to discuss their work and Minneapolis’s rise to be anointed as the best bicycling city in the U.S. […]

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