Minneapolis, Minnesota is constantly listed among the top cities in the United States for cyclists. Bicycling Magazine ranked it No. 1 on their annual list. The League of American Bicyclists gave it Gold status, ranking alongside Portland, Seattle and San Francisco among major cities.
What's striking about putting Minneapolis in the same breath as those west-coast playgrounds is the indisputable truth that Minneapolis is at a significant climate disadvantage. The city is buried in snow in sub-zero temperatures throughout its long winter. Granted, the summers are beautiful, but how does a town that has to fret about staying warm half the year manage to have such a bustling culture of outdoor activity?
One theory is leadership. The local government sees to it that cyclists are taken care of in Minneapolis, and that only breeds more cyclists. According to the League, Minneapolis has more than 120 miles of on- and off-street facilities. That includes to famed Midtown Greenway and the Cedar Lake Trail, two rail trails totaling 10 miles in length that have been converted to "bicycle freeways". The trails offer an exciting glimpse of how good life can be for commuting cyclists in a city that cares.
"Fat tires and studded tires are common sights during the winter," said Mackenzie Lobby, a Minneapolis-based endurance athlete and coach. "It's surprising how many ride all year round."
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It's easier to do that when the city has your back. Downtown office building are required to have indoor bike storage. Buses have bike racks on the front. A bike share program tries to lure new cyclists in.
If you visit a city like Minneapolis, pack your workout gear (including that bike of yours). The city welcomes you.
Not sure how to get started? Here is a guide of places to run, bike, swim and hike in Minneapolis—whether it's a beautiful summer day or a frigid winter morning.