Minneapolis' growing network of bike lanes and a well-used bike share program have landed the city on yet another list of bike-friendly communities -- and this time, it's the only U.S. city to rank among the world's top cities for cyclists.

The latest recognition is from the Copenhagenize Design Co., a Danish design firm that annually publishes a worldwide index of bike-friendly cities. Minneapolis is No. 18 on the list, which is led by Copenhagen, Denmark, and two Dutch cities: Amsterdam and Utrecht. The only other North American city to make the top 20 is Montreal at No. 20. 

Minneapolis is the first U.S. city to make the list since the firm increased the number of cities up for consideration in 2013. No U.S. cities were on the list that year. The three that made the cut in 2011, the first year for the Copenhagenize index — Portland, San Francisco and New York City — have since fallen out of the top 20.

The list’s authors said Minneapolis is “quickly becoming the go-to city in America for building (bike) infrastructure,” noting that the effort has the backing of officials in City Hall.

One of those advocates is Mayor Betsy Hodges, who in a statement Tuesday called the ranking a “tremendous testament to what we have achieved and a reminder of how far we can go.”

The city’s budget for this year includes $750,000 to build protected bikeways around the city.

Ethan Fawley, executive director of the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition, said those improvements are helping to put Minneapolis on the map in several categories, in addition to bike-friendly city rankings. The city has recently received high rankings for its parks and the health of residents, and Fawley said growing interest in biking is among the factors.

“Biking is a really critical part of Minneapolis’ identity and our brand nationally and internationally,” he said. “This time of year, if you go look at the various international and national rankings, biking will be mentioned in a quarter to half of those.”

Fawley said those positive messages can be key in attracting residents who might otherwise have written off Minneapolis because of its cold winters.

The Copenhagenize index makes note of Minneapolis’ status as a leader among cold-weather cities, suggesting that the city do more to ensure bike paths and lanes are kept clear during snowy months.

 

But the authors of the list also suggest that the city would be wise to “stop talking about the winter and to focus on getting a massive ridership during the rest of the year.”

Above: Alexis Pennie, Amy Brugh and Ethan Fawley ride on the Hiawatha Bike Trail in Minneapolis in March. Fawley is the executive director of the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition, and Pennie and Brugh are volunteers. Leila Navidi / Star Tribune

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