Jun 3, 2021 - News
Biking in the pandemic: Minnesota trades lanes for trails
A bicyclist riding across a bridge.
Bike trails have been full during the pandemic. Photo: Marlin Levison/Star Tribune via Getty Images

Minnesota's bike trails have been buzzing during the pandemic, but bicycle lanes on streets have been quieter.

The state of play: Bicycle use on trails was up 39% in 2020, but it was down 15% on roadways and road shoulders, according to an analysis by University of Minnesota professor Greg Lindsey.

  • Lindsey's team looked at daily counts from 16 trails in Minnesota and eight roadways/shoulders, using data from the state's Department of Transportation and Department of Natural Resources.

The big picture: People weren't biking to work on streets as they hunkered down at their home offices, but they used the trails much more for exercise, especially since gyms were closed or limited.

  • "It's our hypothesis that the different trends in bike use on different facilities are associated with changes in trip purposes," Lindsey wrote. "That means fewer utilitarian trips for work and shopping and more trips for exercise, recreation and mental health."

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