Bicycling and walking continue upward trend in Minneapolis

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March 1, 2013
By: Dylan Thomas
A volunteer counts bicyclists on the Cedar Lake Regional Trail in 2011
File photo
Dylan Thomas
Findings are included in the city's 2012 Bicyclist and Pedestrian Count Report, released today

It’s a trend with legs: The sixth annual count of bicyclists and pedestrians in Minneapolis once again found more people biking and walking in the city, according to a report released March 1.

The numbers of bicyclists and pedestrians counted over six years of street surveys increased by 56 percent and 22 percent, respectively. The 2012 Bicyclist and Pedestrian Count Report indicates both modes of non-motorized transportation were also up slightly over 2011, based on the numbers of bikers and walkers counted in September.

As they choose to bike and walk more, area residents may also be driving less. At one survey location, the Franklin Avenue Bridge, motor vehicles’ share of all types of transportation crossing the bridge dropped by more than 10 percent between 2007 and 2012.

It was in 2007 that the city first recruited volunteers to count bicyclists and pedestrians at dozens of benchmark locations, and the annual counts have been conducted every September for six years. At four locations, the city surveyed bicyclists in 2003, and when those results are compared to 2012  bicycling is up 167 percent over course of the decade.

The reports findings include the top-five bicycling and walking locations in the city by estimated daily traffic.

Tops for bicyclists were: the Washington Avenue Bridge on the University of Minnesota campus (with an estimated 7,370 bicyclists daily); 15th Avenue Southeast just north of University Avenue (4,310); 15th just north of 5th Street Southeast (3,860); the Midtown Greenway west of Cedar Avenue South (3,590); and the greenway west of Blaisdell Avenue South (3,490).

The busiest pedestrian locations were: Nicollet Mall north of 7th Street (with an estimated 20,320 walkers daily); Washington Avenue west of Union Street (19,990); Washington Avenue Bridge (19,710); 15th Avenue Southeast north of University Avenue (11,390); and Oak Street Southeast south of Washington Avenue (10,650).

The report also finds some bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure projects are correlated with an increase in both modes of transportation.

The example highlighted in the report is the Loring Bikeway Bridge connecting the Bryant Avenue bicycle boulevard to Loring Park, where bicycle traffic was up 23 percent over the six years of the survey. Over the same period, bike traffic on nearby Lyndale Avenue declined 24 percent.

Where there are trails and on-street bikeways there are also fewer bicyclists riding on sidewalks, according to the report.

Women make up about one-quarter of the city’s cyclists, based on survey estimates, reflecting national data that more men than women bike, according to the report. But women cyclists made up one-third or more of the bicycle traffic at five survey locations in 2012: Riverside Avenue east of Cedar Avenue; the Franklin Avenue Bridge; the Loring Bikeway Bridge; the Lyndale Avenue off-street trail north of the Loring Bikeway Bridge; and the 10th Avenue Bridge over the Mississippi River.

Some of the trends identified in the report are true for other parts of the Twin Cities metropolitan area, as well. Surveys conducted by Transit for Livable Communities’ Bike Walk Twin Cities program indicate bicycling and walking were up 51 percent and 24 percent, respectively, over the same six years period based on counts at 40 locations, including some in St. Paul, St. Louis Park and Falcon Heights.

Click here to read a copy of the report on the city's website.