Thursday, June 20, 2019

Cycling in Minneapolis

 I cycled almost every day between 10 and 20 kms during my stay in Minneapolis from 22 May to 16 June. I found it as the most enjoyable and leisurely way of sightseeing while getting some exercise as a bonus.

I was inspired by Becky, my daughter in law and son Raja both of whom who go to office by cycle and take their children in the bike trailer and tagalong. They do it on many days even in the harsh winter when the temperature is many degrees below freezing point. Thanks to the daily cycling, both Raja and Becky are fit and do not need to go to gym. While the five year old Divya enjoys pedaling in the TagAlong, the 30-month old Leela prefers to go to sleep in the Burley trailer listening to audio stories from iPhone. Becky's parents, in their seventies, also cycle every day besides going on cycling tours to other parts of US and Europe.

Becky is not only an enthusiastic cyclist but also a passionate activist promoter of cycling and use of public transport to reduce use of cars and pollution. She works with NGOs in these fields.

                                                      Becky taking Divya in Tag-along 

                                     Raja taking the two kids to daycare in Burley trailer

Minneapolis, ranked as one of the best biking cities in USA, proactively promotes cycling as a healthy, low-cost, safe and environment-friendly way of travel. The city has 130 miles of on-street and 100 miles of off-street bikeways. There are free public facilities for pumping air and minor repair tools in cycling routes. The city runs and efficient and user-friendly bike-share program called as Nice Ride which has a fleet of 1600 cycles and 170 stations. There are special maps and Apps for cycling.

There are several hundred miles of cycle trails beyond the city going through scenic interior areas of the state.  The buses and trains have special places to take the cycles along.

The state, city and county authorities collaborate with NGOs in planning, maintenance and innovation of the cycling facilities and use.

Traffic rules and regulations are in place to ensure the safety and efficiency of the cycling system. A new culture of cycling has evolved. Car drivers respect cyclists and give way to them. The cyclists offer the same courtesy to pedestrians. When you hear the shout "on your left" one needs to give way to the faster cyclist behind who wants to overtake.

Thousands of Minnesotans commute to work in cycles with special and stylish bike wear and change into office dress after reaching the place of work. 

There are five different interesting routes for cycling:

- on both sides of the Mississippi River and crisscrossing through the various bridges with different architectures.

- around the many lakes. A popular circuit is the 12-mile loop connecting the Cedar lake, Lake of the Isles, Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet.  Each of the lake has a perimeter ranging from 1.7 to 3.2 miles. 

-Midtown Greenway, a dedicated cycle path through the city for 6 miles. It is a kind of cycle highway with one lane to go and another to come. 

-cycle trails, going out of the city through scenic routes. A popular one is the Grand Round Scenic Byway which covers 55 miles around the city.

- on the streets and roads of the city, where large space is marked prominently for exclusive use of cyclists. In some streets, which are designated as bike boulevards, the cycles have  priority over vehicles.

More information:

                                         riding along the river near the office of Raja

                                           Riding on the historic stone arch bridge

stone arch bridge

riding in a park

                                            Midtown Greenway with divided lanes

the view of standup paddling and boating in the Lake of the Isles which has a 4 km cycling path around

                                                view of downtown from the lake

The only problem is that one has to lock the cycle carefully every time one parks it. Cycle theft is common, even from garages in the houses.  

After the Minneapolis experience, I have bought a cycle and use it in my village (Alangudi Mahajanam, 35 km from Trichy and 350 km from Chennai) during my visits. Of course, there are no bike routes there. I ride through tractor roads between the rice and sugarcane fields behind my house.

I would love to cycle in Gurgaon where I live. My golf course, metro station and shopping malls are within cyclable distances. But the roads are dangerous and dusty, although a few enthusiasts do it bravely. The good news is that there is growing realization among the Gurgaon youth about the value and pleasure of cycling. 

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Really nice sir, you are always fond of explore new ways and places. Carry on all the best. Pls convey my wishes to Raja - Pakey & Diva.