During our stay in Minneapolis last week, we noticed there were lots of happy Minnesotans out on their bikes in the blazing sun. I was reminded that they received the coveted Bicycling Magazine #1 rating for bike-friendly cities in the U.S., just edging out Portland this year.
I noticed that they have lots of generous bike lanes and paths, and some great farm roads for riding outside of the city. Sounds like they’ve got a pretty good cycling community there as well. Snow and ice may keep most folks from riding during the frigid winter months, but from what I can tell, the minute the thaw’s on, these folks are turnin’ and burnin’ their pedals. So, yay for Minneapolis.
I only have one criticism of the cycling scene in Minnesota, and it's the same for most places in the country. Where are the helmets?! I’d say I saw almost as many folks without helmets as with them, riding on roads and in traffic. Kids, too! And here’s the bad part: as unacceptable as that seems, it’s pretty much the norm across the U.S. Only half of bicyclists wear a helmet some of the time, and only 35% wear them most of the time.
Here are the top excuses people don’t wear helmets:
Don’t have one: 50%
Too hot: 47%
It’s just a short trip: 42%
So why does it feel different in Oregon? Well apparently, when there’s a helmet law for kids, it makes the adults 18% more likely to wear one, too. That one change--a helmet law for kids--was a tipping point for Oregon. Why does this matter? Bike accidents crash-land more kids into emergency rooms than any other sport. Helmets reduce the risk of head injury by 85%. Bottom line, the research is done. Helmets save lives.
So, Minnesota, you can do the math, or just put a helmet on and go ride a bike.