Posts Tagged ‘bike commuting’
Tuesday, July 24th, 2012
The following post was written by Hilary Reeves, communications director, Bike Walk Twin Cities, for the Southwest Journal.
When you hear the word “bicycling,” do you think of a weekend ride around the lakes or about grabbing your bike to go meet friends for breakfast or to make a run for a few things at the store? An increasing number of local residents are using their bikes for getting around, a.k.a., transportation, but for some, it’s still a leap to think of the bike you ride on weekends as the bike you could ride more often: to work, running errands or simply to get from point A to B.
Around the nation, there are more people using their bikes to commute. A 2011 survey of 55 major U.S. cities found that on average, the number of regular bicycle commuters increased by 70 percent between 2000 and 2009, according to The Atlantic Cites, a blog that explores ideas and issues facing cities and neighborhoods. The survey, which was based on data from the 2000 U.S. Census and the 2005-2009 American Community Survey, found that bike commuting in Minneapolis increased by 58 percent during this time period.
Even with this increase, the city of Minneapolis would like to see more people choosing to bike to work. Minneapolis leads all Midwestern cities in bike commuting, and is among the top U.S. cities for bike commuting, but is still well under Portland’s nation-leading 6 percent. The city has set a goal of 7 percent of all commuters biking to work by 2014, which is double the current estimate of 3.5 percent bike commuters in the city.
Minneapolis’ infrastructure is prepared to handle more bike commuters, thanks to an infusion of new bike routes that have opened in the last few years. If you’re wondering where this surge came from, a lot is due to $25 million of federal transportation funds. Minneapolis and three other communities (Sheboygan, Wis., Columbia, Mo., and Marin County, Calif.) received these funds to see how far they could encourage bicycling and walking as ways of getting around.
According to the city’s annual report on bicycling, there are now 167 miles of bikeways on Minneapolis streets – a 75 percent increase just from 2010. The city now has its first Bicycle Master Plan, and a full-time bicycle and pedestrian coordinator to lead its efforts.
But the commute trip is only one kind of journey that could be made by bike. While the average work commute (13 miles one-way in the 7-county metro) is too far for some people to bike, about 40 percent of all the trips people make are within 3 miles. Bicycling 3 miles takes about 15 minutes and often can be quicker than going by car, and is frequently loads more fun.
Minneapolis residents such as Masami Kawazato and Aaron Merrill, who live in south Minneapolis, use their bikes to get to work downtown and to run errands. They have not owned a car since 2003. Bicycling has become ingrained into their lives.
“Part of my motivation to bike is my background,” Kawazato explains. “I’m originally from Japan and lived there from birth through 6 years old and then again during high school. There, it’s common to bike commute and run errands like grocery shopping.”
The couple regularly encourages others to try bike commuting, as they do. “Try it at least once,” Kawazato says. “It doesn’t have to be every day right away. You could take the bike every Thursday to start or get a Nice Ride bike when it’s a nice day. For any women interested in biking but concerned about wardrobe, I’ve found that you can bike in just about any kind of clothing.”
If you’re interested in starting to use your bike for commuting or running errands, here are six tips to keep in mind:
1-Make bike commuting a routine. As Kawazato suggests, start by bike commuting once a week, on a specific day. Once you get accustomed to it, you can try adding additional days to your routine.
2-Add variety to your routes. Although Minneapolis has many miles of well-marked bikeways, don’t feel confined to taking the same route each day. Mix it up a bit, explore new routes, and learn new things about the city.
3. Be safe. Without question, always wear a helmet, and be sure you have at least a working white light on the front of your light and a reflector or blinking red light (better) on the back of your bike. Be predictable in traffic, obey traffic laws, and always signal your turns. By doing so, you aid not only yourself, but also all other bicyclists.
4. Security. Invest in a high-quality U-shaped lock to secure your bike to a bike rack, or sign post, and definitely not to fences, parking meters, street signals, or trees..
5. Attire. Wear comfortable clothing while bicycling, and invest in quality raingear if you bike commute regularly. If your job requires more formal attire, take it with you for changing, or keep a set of work clothing at work.
6. Seek companions. Bike commuting is safer and more fun when you can ride with others. Encourage friends or co-workers to regularly ride with you. Knowing you are riding with others will also be an incentive to stick with your commuting.
If you would like to be part of a national effort that encourages people to bike for transportation and recreation, go to www.nationalbikechallenge.org. It runs through Aug. 31.
Thursday, September 15th, 2011
Want the best tips on bike commuting in the Twin Cities? Go straight to the source: people who regularly bike the trails and roads of St. Paul and Minneapolis. Below are tips from serious bike commuters who were gracious enough to share their insights with us:
Making it routine
- Start by dipping your toes in the water. Try to commute both ways one day a week. If you schedule a specific day for it and plan for the extra time, it’ll become a habit. Once that gets easy, add another day. After a while, the people in your life will become accustomed to your mode of transportation and will tolerate some of the extra steps you have to take to get around under your own power. – Robert Tomb, @bikeonastick
- The secret to bike commuting is making it part of your routine, making it so that you don’t have to decide each morning whether you want to bike or not. We have one car, and my wife takes it to work. So I don’t think twice about it, I load up my daughter in the Burley, drop her off at daycare and continue on to work. – Rett Martin, @rett
- Keep your daily commute’s route interesting so you don’t get bored. Turn here one day—another the next. Take different routes. Explore. – Patrick Stephenson, @patiomench
Online tools and maps
- I use the Metro Transit Commuter Challenge online, which lets me log the miles I bike. It then calculates total miles, total trips, total gas not used and total CO2 offset (in pounds). Seeing those numbers add up is a nice, encouraging way for me to keep biking. – Casey Peterson, @case_face
- For rides to places you’ve never been before, cross-reference between cyclopath.org and Google Maps bicycle directions to figure out the most bike-friendly route. – Sarah Lonning, @slonning
- Wear a helmet! There’s absolutely no reason not to. – Casey Peterson, @case_face
- Never underestimate the importance of lighting. Run multiple red blinking lights on the back and at least two white lights on the front (one blinking, one steady). – Robert Tomb, @bikeonastick
- If you’re in an urban or suburban area, ride like a car: ride on the road, be very predictable and signal your turns. – Robert Tomb, @bikeonastick
- In case of emergencies, know the bus routes along your commute that will get you the rest of the way to work or home, and always have bus fare with you. – Sarah Lonning, @slonning
- I prefer slightly longer, safer routes to shorter, high-traffic ones. Riding the same 10 miles of road every day in two directions can get tedious, and it is easy to zone out. I like having a route that allows me to do that without taking my life into my hands. – Sarah Lonning, @slonning
- Having a good bike goes without saying, but it’s pretty much square one. If you don’t like your bike, or if riding the bike is a chore, you’re not going to want to ride. – Casey Peterson, @case_face
- Use an old road bike, update its drivetrain, install flat-resistant tires or tire protectors, and install fenders. – Robert Tomb, @bikeonastick
- Keep the bike in good, riding condition, just like you would a car. – Casey Peterson, @case_face
- You won’t really notice the savings until you switch to bike commuting full time, so don’t buy an expensive bike right away with all of the potential money you’re going to save. Once you are able to go an entire year commuting by bicycle, you’ll see the financial benefit, and you’ll be a bit surprised. It warms you a little on cold and windy days when you realize your efforts are so valuable.– Robert Tomb, @bikeonastick
- Spend your big money on really good raingear. I mean it, really good raingear. Spend your next biggest chunk of money on a waterproof bag or panniers for your clothes. You’ll especially need this if you have a laptop. – Robert Tomb, @bikeonastick
Day to day
- Get friends or coworkers to ride with you. This will help motivate you when you’re just getting into commuting, and they may know routes that you’d never thought of. – Sarah Lonning, @slonning
- If you have a longer commute or commute in all weather conditions, you’ll probably get to work sweaty and disheveled. Packing your work clothes can sometimes be a bulky pain, and a rear rack and panniers can be expensive. If you have storage or file cabinet space at work, you can pick a day of the week to drive or bus in with enough clothes for the week ahead and store them at your desk to change into, and then take home any clothes you brought in for the previous week. Wash, repeat. – Ang Dezelke, @angied
- Wear two pairs of pants when it’s raining out. That way when you show up to work with a soggy bottom, you can shed a layer. – Nick Nelson, @gonicknelson
- Rolling your right pant leg to protect it from sprockets doesn’t make you a hipster. Forgetting to unroll it does. – Nick Nelson, @gonicknelson
- Fashion is cyclical. Bike shorts are not. – Nick Nelson, @gonicknelson
- Little bells on your handlebars are manly. We all need horns to honk. – Nick Nelson, @gonicknelson
Have tips of your own? Share them below in the comments.
The following is a post written by Hilary Reeves, communications director, Bike Walk Twin Cities, that originally ran in the Downtown Journal. Now that Nice Ride bikes are tucked away for the winter, consider using the bus for your quick trips to lunch, meetings, doctor’s appointments, or shopping. Using Metro Transit is an ideal way
The following is a post written by Bri Whitcraft, Special Projects Coordinator, Bike Walk Twin Cities. It all started with a video as inspiration and a Tweet as declaration. (My mom thought it was a joke.) Map & Route From my home in South Minneapolis, I biked to St. Paul to borrow the trailer from
The following is a post written by Hilary Reeves, communications director, Bike Walk Twin Cities, that originally ran in the Southwest Journal. Practical, affordable and surprisingly rewarding, winter bicycling has become increasingly popular in Minneapolis, recently named one of the top five cities in the nation for winter bicycle commuting by MetaEfficient. That’s amazing when