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Here are the newest 'Bicycle Friendly Communities' in Minnesota

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A city in west-central Minnesota and a county in the Twin Cities metro are now considered bike friendly by a national pro-cyclist organization.

The League of American Bicyclists released its most recent look at bike friendly communities in the U.S. To win you have to apply, and awards are valid for four years, the league says.

A total of 55 "new and renewing Bicycle Friendly Communities" are listed, including five in Minnesota:

Minneapolis – Gold

The city received a gold ranking, the top level in Minnesota. Only 24 communities across the U.S. are considered "gold" (though that's still below the ranking of "platinum" the group hands out).

Hennepin County – Silver

For the first time, Hennepin County made the league's list. It's one of 18 new entrants, and the only new one to come in above a bronze level. It's also the only county in the state to be considered bicycle friendly by the league on any level.

The county has a page dedicated to its bike plan, including a look at its 650-plus miles of bikeway and all the current (or upcoming) planned bike-related projects. There's also a plan to increase the safety and availability of biking through 2040.

Fergus Falls, Grand Rapids – Bronze

Fergus Falls is also new to the list, and nabbed a bronze. And as an unrelated bonus, the league called the city a "vacation destination" along with Virginia Beach, Virginia, and Monona, Wisconsin.

Also at a bronze level was Grand Rapids, Minnesota.

Two Harbors – Honorable Mention

The northeast Minnesota city snagged an honorable mention nod, and is new to the list.

More bicycle friendly places in MN

Overall, the league says Minnesota is the second friendliest to bikes, with 17 non-county communities, 72 business, and two universities deemed "bicycle friendly." All are bronze level aside from Minneapolis and Hennepin County.

Redfin earlier this year called Minneapolis the best biking city in the country, and shortly after an international organization named it one of the top 20 biking cities in the world. It was the only U.S. city on the list.

In all, 371 U.S. communities have gotten recognition from the League of American Bicyclists – five platinum, 24 gold, 75 silver and the rest bronze.

One of those platinums is just next door: Madison, Wisconsin.

The city moved up from previous rankings, and joins Boulder and Fort Collins in Colorado; Davis, California; and Portland, Oregon in that top grouping.

In the news release, Madison Mayor Paul Soglin said working to that level seemed like "an unreachable goal," but noted the decade-long effort shows "any city can be a great cycling city as long as there’s commitment from a broad range of city leaders and the population as a whole."

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