How We Travel Differently: Biking Minneapolis

How We Travel Differently Biking Minneapolis

It might surprise you to know that Minneapolis was named the number one biking city in the country in 2010 by Bicycling Magazine. Or that it has the second-highest percentage of daily bike commuters, second only to Portland. Or that bikers ride year-round, crossing the godforsaken tundra in the icy winters to glide along on frozen commuter paths. Cross my heart, it’s all true. If your preferred way to explore is on two wheels instead of two feet, Minneapolis is the city for you.

Start with the 92 miles of on-street bike lanes and the 85 miles of off-street trails and you’ll quickly realize Minneapolis is a cyclist’s utopia. No matter where you are or where you’re going, you can get there on your bike. Even if you’re staying in the suburbs, you’re connected to the city’s attractions.

Every bus and train in the city is equipped with bicycle carriers, and every downtown office building is required—by law!—to offer secure bike storage. Even the city’s fancier hotels are bike-friendly with easy access to the Greenway, the dedicated cross-town corridor that connects the Chain of Lakes on the west with the Missouri River bike trails on the east. It might surprise you to know that when it snows, the city plows the Greenway before it tackles the streets.

The city’s Nice Ride bike share program is innovative, cheap, and extremely convenient for out-of-town visitors. For just $6 per day, you get unlimited 30-minute rides around the town; there are so many Nice Ride kiosks in the city that it’s easy to swap out bikes and ride free with your pass. Nice Ride also offers a plethora of self-guided bike tours, like the “Mmmmm, Beer” tour, which plots a course to the city’s top taprooms and breweries with nearby kiosk locations clearly marked. You can also take a guided tour from one of the many biking enthusiasts in the city.

If your idea of a perfect getaway involves extreme sports, you’ll definitely want to bring your bike to the Minne-Apple. How about the annual Stupor Bowl, an insane snow-covered on- and off-road bike race that takes place during the Super Bowl? Or maybe a class on track racing followed by a hardcore workout at the Velodrome is more your speed. There is also the monthly Alleycat Race, an extremely popular—and unpredictable—urban ride organized by MPLS Bike Love. Even if you’re a street racing newbie, this ride is a blast.

There are several websites and apps to help you plan your Minneapolis biking getaway. The Nice Ride system has its own app, with detailed real-time info about each of the city’s 65 kiosks and a trip timer to help you avoid fees. The Minneapolis Bike app has traffic data, maps, and popular tours. The website Map My Ride has excellent user-created routes and ratings.

For a perfect biking vacation, book a flight to Minneapolis with a cheap travel site like Hipmunk and pedal on! If you’re a cycling enthusiast with tips about biking Minneapolis, please share your insights in the comments below!

Sheila Westin is a freelance travel writer and food blogger who writes about the charms, cuisine, and culture of the places she visits. A last-minute travel aficionado, Sheila spends her free time flying down the freeway or across the friendly skies for quick getaways. When she’s not on the road, Sheila enjoys exploring the excellent restaurants and jazz clubs of her native Washington, D.C. She is currently working on the #HipmunkCityLove project.

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