Australians ask RT Rybak about bicycles, snow

This is how the Australians imagine Minneapolis.
This is how the Australians imagine Minneapolis.

Minneapolis has the well-earned reputation as the top biking spot in America. In fact, that rep has apparently spread all the way across the globe, and now the Australian media has come, like anthropologists studying some far-off tribe, to learn about our frigid little bicycling paradise.

Of course, the built-in trope was deflated a bit with the unseasonably warm October weather. But never mind that. Let's just pose -- helmets on! -- for the cameras as the amazed reporter asks, "Just how do you  do it?"

A feature in yesterday's Sydney Morning Herald, entitled "Wintry city a wonderland for cyclists," examines our record as the premier spot for cycling Yanks.

There's even a poll for the best biking city in the world, which includes Minneapolis. We can probably live with getting crushed by fancy central European cities. But Portland? Come on Australia, we were nice to you!

Actually, the feature itself is quite glowing, with the Australians looking at Minneapolis as a bicycling haven, despite the fact that it "doesn't strike as one where commuters would prefer the saddle over the car heater." In the Sydney Morning Herald's telling, Minneapolis is a model city, and its embrace of bicycling could be replicated in Melbourne and other cities Down Under. As the Herlad writes:

"Minneapolis, an urban area with a population size similar to that of Melbourne, has more than 150 kilometres of bike trails, has converted an abandoned railway line into a bicycle highway spanning the midtown area, allows cyclists to load bikes on the front of buses and was one of the first American cities to introduce a bike share scheme."

RT Rybak did his best to make us sound cool.EXPAND
RT Rybak did his best to make us sound cool.

Oh, stop it, Sydney. No, just kidding. Go on.

The story centers on our youthful, pedal-driven mayor, and RT Rybak just piles on in the flattering of Minneapolis, giving all the credit to his fine citizens.

"My advice to Australian cities which may think they can never aspire to this, is the public is ahead of government when it comes to the bike culture," Rybak said.

Oh man, first Australia says we've got a cool mayor, then the mayor says we're cooler than him! Minneapolis is going to be so popular when we finally get around to taking that vacation.

The Nice Ride program also comes in for some love, with Rybak saying that it's one simple way that city governments can actually encourage more two-wheel transit. Rybak said the cheap roadside option was a turning point in getting casual or reluctant riders to actually get out of their cars for a few minutes.

The story's attached poll for "best overseas city" for bicycling shows us running fifth -- ahead of classic sites like Rome and Vienna, but way behind forward-thinking Copenhagen and Amsterdam, which is way out in front. That's all well and good, but there are a couple sticking points here: Firstly, we're (barely) behind Portland, which has always bothered us.

Secondly, we're tied with... Beijing? Like, the place with so much smog you pretty much have to chew to get a decent breath? The place where you're only one Communist baton swing from toppling over the handlebars?

Foolishness, Sydney. We welcome you into our city, we introduce you to our dashing, bike-loving mayor, and this is how you repay us? Next time we see you, you'd better have learned how to bike faster than us.


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