Short is beautiful — especially when it comes to bicycling and walking in Minneapolis.
Minneapolis is becoming increasingly ideal for making short trips by bike or foot because so many great places are nearby — work, food trucks, restaurants, small shops, big box stores, museums, parks, music … you name it!
Think of how many places you go each week, and see how your travel patterns compare to national norms: According to the League of American Bicyclists, in urban areas, 30 percent of all trips are 1 mile or less; 44 percent are 2 miles or less; and 53 percent are 3 miles or less. Yet even with that destination proximity — the nearness of things — we still make most of our short trips by car: 60 percent of all trips of 1 mile or less are driven.
Here’s an idea: rather than driving to a destination of 1 mile or less, try bicycling or walking instead, even if it’s just once a week. Get a map, find your home, and draw a circle with a 1-mile radius from your home. Or if you’d like to try a handy and free online tool to see a 1-mile radius around your home, go to “Radius Around Point,” at freemaptools.com/radius-around-point.htm; simply enter 1 mile, your home address, including city and state, and click “Draw Radius.”
You may be surprised how many of your regular destinations are a mile or less away. At a very easy pace, you can travel a mile by bicycle in about 7 minutes, or walk within about 20 minutes. Along the way, you’ll be able to enjoy the scenery, benefit your physical and mental health, and save costs by not driving! Health fact of the summer: If half of all short trips in the Twin Cities were done by bike during just the summer, 300 deaths and $57 million in medical costs would be averted annually, according to a 2011 study by University of Wisconsin researchers.
Notable short trips
So, where is good to go for short trips? Nice Ride Minnesota bike-sharing gives us a good picture. If you’d like to imagine yourself a tourist (or if you are a tourist), downtown Minneapolis is a great starting point for short-distance travel.
According to Ellen Apel, marketing manager for Nice Ride, the most popular Nice Ride station in the Twin Cites is in front of the IDS Center. Using the IDS Center as your hub, popular downtown destinations within a mile include Target Field and Target Center, Loring Park, the Walker Art Center, the Minneapolis Outdoor Sculpture Garden, the
Minneapolis Central Library, Nicollet Island, the Mill City Museum, the Guthrie Theater, Stone Arch Bridge and St. Anthony Main.
Expand your trip from the IDS Center to 2 miles (a 15-minute ride), and you’ll reach the Minneapolis campus of the University of Minnesota, the Northeast Minneapolis Arts District, Uptown, and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.
Nice Ride has stations at or near all of these locations. For a listing of multiple Twin Cities bicycle tours, visit the Nice Ride tour library at niceridemn.org/explore_by_bike/.
How does Nice Ride work? While many readers may already be familiar with Nice Ride, here’s the skinny for those who are not: In exchange for a daily ($6), monthly ($30) or annual ($65) subscription (made via credit or debit card), you have access to more than 1,300 green bikes at 140+ stations in Minneapolis and St. Paul.
The key thing to know about Nice Ride is that it’s based on short trips: plan to keep a Nice Ride bike for only 30 minutes at a time. Get a bike, ride to your destination station, and dock it. When you’re done with your lunch or meeting or seeing the museum or shopping, use your credit card to get another unlock code and take off for another 30 minutes.
If you want a longer ride, plan to exchange Nice Ride bikes every 30 minutes to avoid “trip fees.” Otherwise, you’ll pay $1.50 for the next 30 minutes after the free first half-hour, and a sharply increasing rate after that.
Another resource chock-full of potential short-distance destinations is Meet Minneapolis, the city’s official convention & visitors association, at minneapolis.org. Check out the site’s helpful Itinerary Creator; it’s filled with a multitude of destinations that can easily be reached by bike or on foot from downtown.
By bicycling or walking for short trips, instead of driving, you’ll enjoy firsthand the city’s amenities, likely boost your physical and mental health, and save on transportation costs. That way, you’ll have more to spend on yourself (and others) when you reach your destination!
Hilary Reeves is communications director for Bike Walk Twin Cities.