US Bank Stadium, the new home of the Minnesota Vikings, opened yesterday evening with a soccer friendly between AC Milan and Chelsea FC. A sellout crowd of over 64,000 people passed through the turnstiles to see Chelsea beat the Italian club. All well and good, but it is how many of these folks got there that is of interest to me. Check out the lines waiting for Metro trains after the game.
Not everybody was happy, it would appear. Even so, I find this inspiring. In fact, it is nothing short of remarkable. When Jan and I lived in Minneapolis, the city was as car-centric as any other American city. We left shortly before Metro opened their first light rail line from downtown to Mall of America along Hiawatha Avenue in 2004. The bus system at that time was middle of the pack and underperforming. It may still be for all I know. Sure, there were extensive off street bicycle paths including the Grand Rounds, but most were geared towards recreation, not transportation.Much has changed. Minneapolis is still the center of a sprawling metropolis with relatively low density, but it is also one of America’s best bicycling cities. In fact, it is the only US city on Copenhagenize.EU’s list of the best cycling cities on the planet. World class infrastructure here includes the Midtown Greenway, a cross town bicycle “freeway” and the Martin Olav Sabo Bridge over Hiawatha. There’s also the fabulously repurposed Stone Arch Bridge over the Mississippi River. US Bank Stadium has parking for 180 bicycles. More will be added if Minnesotans choose to bike to Vikings games, and judging by those transit lines many might.
This is yet another example of America’s thirst for multimodal transit alternatives to the private automobile. Even with gas prices at historical lows, people are seeking other ways to move around their neighborhoods and cities. Bicycles are a big part of this and will be bigger still tomorrow. Communities that recognize and provide for this will grow and prosper. Those that don’t, won’t.