With its extensive network of bike lanes and trails, the Twin Cities has long been lauded as one of the top places in the country to ride.

Here's another reason: The metro area ranks seventh in the nation when it comes to the number of jobs a cyclist can potentially reach within 30 minutes.

Cyclists can reach an average of 61,500 jobs in about a half-hour, or about the same number of jobs that those who use public transportation can get to in the same amount of time.

"It compares favorably to those who take transit," said Andrew Owen, director of the Accessibility Observatory at the University of Minnesota.

The cyclists in the study were willing to ride on all kinds of roads, namely those separated from traffic and those that require cyclists to share lanes with motorists and mix with drivers on roads that handle lower and medium volumes of traffic.

Of course, Owen said, a lot of the travel time depends on where you live. Those who live in downtown Minneapolis can reach far more jobs within 30 minutes by bike than those in exurban communities. But overall, the Twin Cities performs favorably with its peer cities in the number of jobs accessible by biking, he said.

Bicycle commuters

About 4% of Minneapolis residents commute to their jobs by bicycle, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Owen ranked the top 50 metro areas in the country based on population to see how many jobs those who bike to work could reach in 30 minutes.

The first-of-its-kind study used data from 2017 as part of the Access Across America series of studies looking at how many jobs workers can reach by various modes of transportation. It found that the type of roadway that cyclists are willing to ride on greatly influences the number of jobs they can reach.

Minneapolis came in 12th in the number of jobs that cyclists who will ride using only protected bike lanes can reach in 30 minutes. The lower ranking was influenced by cities such as Portland, Seattle, Denver and San Francisco that have more miles of protected bike lanes than the Twin Cities.

But if Twin Cities bike riders felt safe riding on streets with bike lanes separated from traffic lanes only by paint or on those that require them to share space with vehicles, they could reach nearly 78% of job opportunities within 30 minutes of home. That was the highest percentage in the nation, besting San Francisco at 75% and Portland at 74%. It helped push the Twin Cities to the No. 7 overall ranking.

Of course, the 61,500 jobs is a fraction of the number of jobs that can be reached in 30 minutes when driving, but "it shows that when cities invest in safe biking facilities they attract cyclists," Owen said.

New York came in first in the overall rankings, mainly due to the sheer number of jobs it has. Right behind were San Francisco, Chicago, Denver and Washington, D.C. Portland came in sixth followed by the Twin Cities, Seattle, Boston and San Jose.

Tim Harlow • 612-673-7768