Biking: The new winter commute

7:57 PM, Jan 10, 2008   |    comments
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"There are a lot of different reasons to bike right now; environment is the biggest one," biker Amy Kipley said. She added that being stuck in a car was making her stir crazy. So, she got rid of her car and got on her bike. She's been pedaling past snow banks and icy spots for a couple of years now. And she's not alone. Census data shows 4,800 residents of Minneapolis regularly commute to work on a bicycle. The number for the entire metro is 97,000 bikers. A local group called Transit for Livable Communities estimates one-third of those biking enthusiasts continue commuting to work during the winter. At Erik's in Dinkytown they measure the winter biking trend in increased winter wear sales. "People are coming and buying a little more lobster type gloves which are going to keep your hands real warm. They're going to purchase stuff like studded tires. They're buying tools to help them commute during the winter," Assistant Manager John Watson said. After two years, Amy's got the tools and the 'tude to take on even the worst winter weather. "Is there anything that Mother Nature could hand out that would put your bike up on blocks for a day?" I asked. "I don't think so. I think we can take it," Amy smiled. The Minneapolis Department of Public Works and the group Transit for Livable Communities were very helpful in developing this report. The groups have more stats on metro area biking. From Steve Clark at Transit for Livable Communities: At locations where people are using bikes strictly for transportation purposes (like Central and Lowry) the rate of biking does not decrease that much from the nice weather days. At Central and Lowry in fact we get an estimated daily total of 158 in the winter vs. 279 on a nice day in September. Which means that 57% of these folks continue to bike in the winter. It's even higher in North Mpls where one location showed a 70-percent continuation rate! On the low end we have the Midtown Greenway which is a much more recreational trail. Amazingly our manual counts taken at the Midtown Greenway revealed the same thing that the automatic counts revealed, which is that only 8 percent of the regular users during nice weather continue to use the Greenway during the winter. This is much lower than any of the on-street locations where we counted. The range for the on-street locations is 20% on the Franklin Ave Bridge to 70% at Plymouth and 2nd Ave N. Read more about Transit for Livable Communities A couple of bullet points from Shaun Murphy of the Minneapolis Bicycle and Pedestrian Programs: -- Minneapolis has 4,800 residents (2.5% of all workers) who regularly commute to work by bicycle, while the entire metro has 9,700 bike commuters (0.8% of all workers). So 50% of the regular bike commuters live in Minneapolis. [Source: Census data] -- Don Pflaum (City Bicycle Coordinator) estimates that about 15,000 bicyclers are seen each day during the warmer months in Minneapolis. [Source: Minneapolis Public Works estimate]

By Jeff Olsen, KARE OnLIVE

(Copyright 2008 by KARE 11. All Rights Reserved.)

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