As part of the commentary on yesterday’s National Bike to Work Day, I heard a report on NPR announcing that Minneapolis came out #1 in a new ranking of the Most Bikeable Cities. Curious to learn more, I went on to find out about the method behind the scoring process. I discovered that it was developed by Walk Score, which describes itself as “the only site that makes it easy for apartment renters and homebuyers to find neighborhoods where they can drive less and live more.” They launched Bike Score just this week, and currently report details on on the top 10 most bikeable cities in the US, and the 10 largest cities in Canada. The primary factors in computing the score are the availability of bike infrastructure (lanes and trails), the hilliness of the area, amenities and road connectivity, and the number of bike commuters, then weighted by population density.
As it happened, I had planned a bike route through the Minneapolis area this morning to meet a friend for coffee at the Depot Coffeehouse in Hopkins. That location is a magnet for cyclists, as it is situated at the juncture of three urban bike trails. So I decided to do a bit of exploring myself on my return route. I had never cycled into Minneapolis proper on the Cedar Lake Commuter Trail, and I was amazed at the extensive trail system with numerous spurs into local neighborhoods and how it drew me right across town in the safety of a secluded bike lane. First I found myself cycling right alongside the base of Target Field, under the superstructure of the stands. Continuing along, I made it all the way to the Mississippi River – back to my old stomping grounds from my lunch-time running days. From there, access to the West River Parkway and miles of additional bike trails beckoned. What a delightful surprise – I can’t wait to plan another ride there and beyond.
My limited experiment quickly confirmed the results of the Bike Score, and gave me pride in this metro area for developing such bike-friendly routes. Bike Score deliberately publishes its criteria, to encourage other cities to invest in these elements to make their environment more attractive to cyclists. I’m all for it! I hope other cities in the Northland are checking it out.