Editor's note: iCycle is an occasional series in the Star Tribune profiling random metro cyclists. It debuts today.
Meet your neighbors.
That is our hope with this new feature, iCycle, which will profile random cyclists encountered on the streets of the Twin Cities.
City bike counts show that there are more cyclists on metro streets than ever. Bike traffic increased 53 percent in Minneapolis between 2007 and 2015; 33 percent in St. Paul. Census data released in September aligned with those trends: The American Community Survey showed about 5 percent of Minneapolis workers now commute by bike, an increase over the previous year. St. Paul workers numbered 2.1 percent.
This feature will introduce you to urban cyclists, they and their bikes of all makes and models and styles. One constant: Moving through their lives by bike is intrinsic to who they are.
Our first cyclist featured today, Isa Schulz, 25, has an inner light that is inspiring and genuine. She traced her love of rolling back, well, to the time she was in her mother’s belly. Her mom was an avid cyclist.
Schulz said she couldn’t think of getting around any other way. “It feels very natural,” she said of being on her fixed-gear bike, aka a “fixie.” “Sometimes more natural than being on my feet.”
Too, she liked the idea of featuring other urban cyclists. She said she regularly rides by others of her ilk and wonders about their stories. “You are going to meet all kinds of amazing human beings. No doubt.”
Below are edited excerpts from a conversation:
Isa Schulz (pronounced E-sa), 25, Minneapolis, student
Nov. 2, westbound, Franklin Avenue Bridge
Fyxation fixed-gear bike (no gears, speed controlled through the pedals), with bullhorn handlebars
On demands of moving by bike year-round
“Just taking extra precaution when it’s called for.”
On the challenge of riding a fixie
“Sink or swim (laughing). You figure it out pretty quick when you’ve got to keep up with the traffic. And it’s fun. We learn so quickly when we just jump into things with no expectation. You can talk about riding fixies all day — until you do it, you have no idea.”
On how long she has been on her current ride
“Since I moved to Minneapolis [several years ago]. Before that I would ride mountain bikes around … there were a lot of nice mountain bike trails where I grew up [in Apple Valley]. When I got to the city, you want to be moving quick and fast with the traffic and there is not so much topography to work around with gears.”
On the new bike- and pedestrian-friendly Franklin Avenue Bridge:
“Oh, my gosh — it’s so beautiful. It was a little bit of a pain going around it for several months, but I am happy it’s here, and I am glad that all the bikers are given their space. That’s so important. Drivers … some of them will get right up next to you, and you have to really make yourself known. So it’s nice to have this infrastructure built it that creates that awareness.”