Inspired by recent travels, one StoneArcher reflects on her biking experiences in Amsterdam and the Twin Cities. She interviewed an avid StoneArch cyclist, production manager Jeremy Piller, and StoneArch’s Nice Ride Ambassador Michele Molstead.
Realizing our true potential as a “bike-friendly” city
Celebrated as one of the best cycling cities in the United States, could Minneapolis cement its bike-friendly reputation by taking cues from a world-renowned cycling hub?
“We bike because we have to,” said the flaxen-haired Dutch man who stood behind the bike-rental counter, “there is nowhere to park a car.”
63 percent of Amsterdam residents use their bikes on a daily basis but only 2.5 percent of all trips in Hennepin county are made by bike. Perhaps the sheer necessity of biking—and the infrastructure designed to support it—make biking in Amsterdam ubiquitous.
You definitely feel more compelled to pedal when everyone else is doing it. In Amsterdam, seas of cyclists—dressed in muted shades of gray, blue and black—flooded the streets en route to work. They whizzed past narrow black houses lining green canals and hummed collectively along, bringing the city to life.
I wondered: can Minneapolis truly be considered a bike-friendly city when its would-be riders (like me) feel confined by current infrastructure? Or is it a rider’s responsibility to tailor her rides to match her desired experiences?
The answer, I believe, is a little bit of both.
The Dutch play by the rules and their communal compliance makes biking seem—especially to a tourist like me—more natural and innate. Welcoming all types of cyclists and establishing shared expectations could make the experience more enjoyable for everybody.
Recently, a group of StoneArchers participated in a guided Nice Ride bike tour around Minneapolis. Michele Molstead, StoneArch’s Nice Ride ambassador, affirmed that “mode respect” is a shared responsibility. As a St. Paul resident, she has attended city meetings and listened to opposing arguments for adding protected bike lanes. Some residents vouch for it, others detest it. Then, Michelle watches an interesting thing transpire: