Rybak, on bike, wins Great Commuter Challenge

Event kicks-off Bike Walk Week

Mayor R.T. Rybak pedaled up to the Minneapolis Central Library plaza at about 8:15 a.m. Monday to win the Great Commuter Challenge, a kick off event to Twin Cities Bike Walk Week.

The race from St. Paul to Minneapolis pitted Rybak on his bicycle against Ramsey County Commissioner Toni Carter, who walked and rode public transit, and Star Tribune reporter Jim Foti, who drove. Carter finished second, followed by Foti.

“I had so much fun this morning I may never drive to work again, which is a good thing because I may never be able to drive to work again,” Rybak joked, referencing the driver’s license suspension for an unpaid speeding ticket that got him in mildly hot water last week.

All three commuters set out from Merriam Park Community Center in St. Paul, completing several tasks along the way. They had to pick up a newspaper at the Lake Street light rail station and purchase tickets at Bedlam Theater on the West Bank.

Rybak and Carter each earned a $2 back on the tickets for “Romeo and Juliette,” a rebate offered to all theater patrons who walk or take public transit to a show.

The mayor later accepted an award from League of American Bicyclists Board Member Harry Brull. The League recently named Minneapolis one of its Bicycle Friendly Communities.

Brull said the League’s silver award recognized the percentage of Minneapolitans who commuted by bicycle, the investment in bicycle infrastructure and the city’s biking education efforts.

Out of all U.S. cities, Minneapolis ranks behind only Portland, Ore., in the percentage of people who bike to work. Portland is one of only two cities to earn the League’s platinum award, recognizing the best communities for bicyclists.

Rybak said vowed to push Minneapolis up to a platinum ranking and beat out Portland as the nation’s number-one biking city.

“Portland in Minneapolis is just an avenue,” he said to applause from a small crowd that included a number of bicycle commuters.

Bike Walk Week continues with Bike Walk to Work Day on Wednesday, when people will be encouraged to join “commuter convoys” biking and walking to work. For more information, visit www.bikewalkweek.org.