Bicycling increases 56 percent and walking up 22 percent in Minneapolis over last 6 years

More local residents than ever are getting around by bike or on foot. Bicycling in Minneapolis increased by 56 percent over the past six years, and walking by 22 percent, according to the City of Minneapolis Bicyclist and Pedestrian Count Report 2012. For a wider area of the Twin Cities, bicycling rose by 51 percent and walking by 24 percent, as reported by Bike Walk Twin Cities (BWTC), a program of Transit for Livable Communities.

The figures are based on annual counts conducted in September. The City of Minneapolis conducts annual counts at 30 benchmark locations for bicyclists and 23 locations for pedestrians. BWTC counts bicyclists and pedestrians at 40 benchmark locations, including locations in St. Paul, St. Louis Park, and Falcon Heights. This ongoing collection of annual data about bicycling and walking supplements existing data on motorized traffic to develop a more complete picture of overall traffic behavior in our communities.

According to the counts, the top locations for bicycling and walking are near the University of Minnesota, downtown Minneapolis, and along the Midtown Greenway and Cedar Lake Trail.

Other key findings:

Expanded network of routes attracts new cyclists and provides options

The number of routes for bicycling has increased greatly over the recent years, attracting new cyclists and giving existing cyclists more options. Minneapolis has added over 40 miles of bikeways over the past two years. One case in particular illustrates this: bicycles on the Loring Bikeway Bridge increased by 23 percent between 2007 and 2012. The bridge is at the north end of the new Bryant Avenue bicycle boulevard, which opened in 2011. At the same time, bike traffic on nearby Lyndale Avenue declined by 24 percent, likely because many bicyclists instead chose to use the bike boulevard instead.

Mode Share

Mode share refers to how many automobiles, bicycles, and pedestrians use a given location on a daily or annual basis. Across the metro there are numerous examples of increasing mode share for nonmotorized traffic. The highest percentage—with 74 percent nonmotorized traffic—is near the University of Minnesota, at 15th Avenue Southeast.

Because all modes of traffic have to cross bridges, they can be very good locations to monitor overall mode share. The nonmotorized mode share (bicycling and walking together) is 15 percent of traffic on the Lake Street Bridge, 26 percent of traffic on the Franklin Avenue Bridge, and 6 percent on the Hennepin Avenue Bridge over the Mississippi River.

Women Cyclists

Across all benchmark locations counted by BWTC, women were 24 percent of bicyclists. This tracks generally with national data, which show that more men bicycle than women. Certain locations indicate a much higher share of women cyclists.

The top five locations for women cycling in Twin Cities were in Minneapolis:

  1. Riverside Avenue, east of Cedar 38 percent

  2. Franklin Avenue Bridge 36 percent

  3. Loring Bikeway Bridge 33 percent

  4. Lyndale Ave., (off-street trail) north of Loring Bikeway Bridge: 33 percent

  5. 10th Avenue Bridge, over Mississippi River 32 percent 

Sidewalks

Count data continue to indicate that adults are less likely to ride their bicycles on sidewalks when there is a safe bikeway on the street. This is true even as overall rates of bicycling rise.

About the reports

The City of Minneapolis Bicyclist and Pedestrian Count Report 2012 is available on the City of Minneapolis website at www.minneapolismn.gov/bicycles/. The Bike Walk Twin Cities 2012 Count Report is available at www.bikewalktwincities.org.

The annual count effort would not happen without the support of volunteers. In 2012, BWTC worked with 57 volunteers who provided 144 total hours of counting, and the City of Minneapolis Public Works Department worked with 92 volunteers who provided 188 total hours of counting. Each volunteer is required to attend a training session to help ensure that count results are consistent and reliable.

Published Mar. 1, 2013