Friday, May 6, 2011

National bicycle league shows Mankato some love

It looks like the Mankato area is finally getting the recognition it deserves for it's comprehensive system of bike trails.

According to an article in today's (Saturday) Valley section, Mankato and North Mankato earned honorable mention distinction as a Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists. The distinction is based on an evaluation of a community's engineering, education, encouragement and enforcement efforts toward biking. Apple Valley and Rosemont were the other Minnesota communities to earn honorable mention designation.

Really, this should come as no surprise to any of the regular cyclists in Mankato. The city is loaded with bike trails and city legislatures have made a concentrated effort to make cycling a viable form of in-town transportation.

Probably the biggest reason I ever got into health & fitness writing was my discovery of all the great bike trails Mankato had to offer when I moved here three years ago.

I've always enjoyed riding my bike, but it used to be more a product of necessity than anything else. Either I needed it to train for triathlons, or I needed it to get to work when I didn't have a car in college. St. Cloud doesn't have much for recreational trails, so recreational biking was never really a big part of my life.

But that all changed after my first ride on the Red Jacket Trail. Biking is now an everyday passion of mine, and as readers of my blog can attest, I can't shut up about it.

Three things have always stuck out to me about Mankato's biking culture:

  • Its great mix of recreational and commuter trails. The Red Jacket/Minneopa/Sakatah trails offer a lot of great scenery for recreational riders, but Mankato's trails go beyond mere leisure. You can pretty much get anywhere in town on bike trails, whether it's River Hills Mall, MSU campus or the downtown bars and restaurants.
  • The connectivity of its trails. Almost all the trails in Mankato link up in some way or another, making it possible to commute from opposite ends of town without having to bike through much traffic. If you're a fan of longer rides, it also gives you the chance to get creative with loops (here is a 25-mile loop I did a couple weeks ago).
  • The constant efforts by city legislatures to improve and expand on existing trails. Since I moved here, the Minneopa Trail has been completed and Riverfront Park has been revived as a potential transportation hub. But city administrators aren't stopping there. Plans are in place for trail construction on Madison Avenue and North Mankato is looking to expand it's trail system as well.

At present, Minneapolis and Rochester are the only cities in Minnesota that have been fully recognized as bike-friendly. Minneapolis has a silver rating and Rochester a bronze. Call me a homer, but I think our little city in the river valley is well on its way to joining them.

Bravo, Mankato.

1 comment:

  1. Way to Kato! How can we get other communities on board with this? The fear of being hit by a motorist keeps a lot of us off our bikes.