It's already considered one of the best places in the U.S. for bikers, but now Minneapolis is becoming a global leader.
It is the only U.S. city to rank in the top 20 bike-friendly cities in the world, according to annual rankings compiled by the Copenhagenize Index of Bike-Friendly Cities, and reported Tuesday by Wired.com.
Minneapolis broke into the top 20 for the first time, ranking 18th in a list headed up by the European biking meccas of Copenhagen and Amsterdam, with researchers full of praise for Minnesota's biggest city.
"The city boasts 120 miles of what it calls 'on-street bikeways' and 90 miles of off-street lanes," it says in Wired. "The latter is less interesting for urban cycling, but Minneapolis is quickly becoming the go-to city in America for building infrastructure."
"A respectable bike-share system is helping cement the bicycle in the transportation foundation of the city. Seeds have been planted and a garden is growing," it adds. "American cities – often content with baby steps – are in desperate need of leadership, and Minneapolis has emerged as a contender."
Minneapolis' inclusion in the list comes a few weeks after it was ranked the number 1 city in the U.S. for biking by real estate firm Redfin, which said options for cyclists are keeping more commuters living in the city.
Why did Minneapolis rank so highly?
The Copenhagenize survey is based on rankings in 13 categories, including biking infrastructure, bike share programs, urban planning and political climate.
Minneapolis actually got the lowest score in the top 20 for the 13 categories, but was given bonus points for "particularly impressive efforts or results."
Areas where Minneapolis excelled was its impressive (for the U.S.) "modal share" – the number of people using bikes on a regular basis – as well as its commitment to building biking infrastructure, its "Nice Ride" bike-sharing program, as well as "the political will coming out of City Hall."
Minneapolis' achievement is all the more impressive as it becomes the first U.S. city to feature on the list since Copenhagenize increased the number of cities it ranked to 150 in 2013. San Francisco and Portland featured on the 2011 list, when only 80 cities were studied.
Winter improvements needed
The rankings also suggest where further improvements can be made – and in Minneapolis' case it involves making it easier for people to continue biking during the winter.
Now, it's unclear whether the researchers have ever tried biking in 40 below, but they say that while "we love that a snowy American city is the one that makes the top 20," they add that snow clearance on bike lanes should be "prioritized above all else."
"What will help the city is to stop talking about the winter and to focus on getting a massive rise in ridership during the rest of the year," it says. "Minneapolis would do well to increase its commitment to protected infrastructure and to focus on making the continent's best on-street network, and the first city NOT to feature sharrows (lanes shared by bikers and vehicles)."