Minneapolis may be losing its hold as one of the nation’s top-tier biking cities, according to a recent survey.
Minneapolis slipped from second to fourth place among the country’s 50 largest cities in its share of residents who bike to work, according to the 2010 American Community Survey, part of the U.S. Census Bureau.
The results placed Minneapolis behind Portland, Seattle and San Francisco.
In a survey of Minneapolis residents, 3.5 percent said they commute to work primarily by bike — a .4 percent decline from 2009. In 2008, 4.3 percent of residents said they biked to work.
Steve Sanders, bike coordinator for University Parking and Transportation Services, said that although numbers around the city sank in 2010, he believes that the number of bicyclists around the University of Minnesota campus has actually increased this year.
He attributed that rise to the Central Corridor light-rail construction that has closed Washington Avenue, improvements to bicycle infrastructure and the new student housing in the area.
“Just from being out, I’m seeing more bikes and a shortage of bike parking,” Sanders said.
The University has already added a few dozen bike racks this semester and will be adding more next week, he said.
Four of the top five most heavily trafficked bicycle routes in the city are near the University, according to the 2010 Minneapolis Bicyclist and Pedestrian Count Report.
While the latest ACS results place Minneapolis behind Portland, Seattle and San Francisco, Ethan Fawley, president of the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition, said there’s no reason to panic.
“The census survey is always a fairly limited picture because it’s only looking at commuter trips [to work] and it’s a survey, so there’s always going to be variability in those numbers,” Fawley said.
Fawley said Minneapolis’s snowy winter likely played a role in the lower numbers, but was quick to point out that even winter biking numbers are growing in the long run.
Minneapolis still has the highest number of bike commuters of any snow city, according to the ACS survey.
Minneapolis bike counts show that the number of bicyclists increased 27 percent from 2007 to 2010 overall, but decreased by 4 percent from 2009 to 2010.
Fawley said the 2010 data is only a small picture in the grand scheme of things. The city’s biggest investment in on-street biking facilities is happening this year, so numbers will likely increase in the coming years, he said.
“There’s still growing momentum and growing interest in bicycling,” he said.