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Cold, wintery, & bicycle-friendly

We’re No. 2!

OK, it may not sound all that inspiring, but it’s actually something Minnesota can be proud of – it’s the second most bicycle-friendly state in the nation.

That’s up from No. 4 last year, according to the League of American Bicyclists, which issues its annual rankings based on five categories: Legislation and enforcement; policies and programs, infrastructure and funding; education and encouragement; and evaluation and planning.

The top state is Washington. The worst is Alabama.

Most improved should go to North Dakota, which ranked dead last in 2013 and moved up to No. 35 this year.

So Detroit Lakes is in tune with the times, with a paved bicycle trail now under construction along Frazee Street.

The $642,000 project will take the trail from a previously-built tunnel under Highway 10 East along the scenic overlook road all the way to McKinley Avenue, where the Holiday Stationstore is located.

We were glad to see a Detroit Lakes business, Hough, Inc., submitted the low bid and won the contract. The work will be completed this summer.

With luck, the trail will soon stretch from Detroit Lakes to Frazee.

City officials are cautiously optimistic that a state bonding bill will pass this session that includes $3.1 million for the nine-mile Frazee to Detroit Lakes extension of the Heartland Trail.

The bill also includes conceptual design corridor funding for the 21-mile Moorhead to Hawley stretch of the Heartland Trail. Eventually that segment, too, will connect to Detroit Lakes via Lake Park and Audub0on.

Funding for bicycle trails is an issue across the nation. That category lags far behind the four others in rankings for all 50 states.

Although funding is in short supply, and in spite of its long, cold winters, Minnesota has been steadily improving its standing as a bicycle-friendly state.

Minnesota held the number four slot in 2011 and 2010. Prior to that, Minnesota ranked fifth in 2008 and 2009.

Nearly half of Minnesotans rode a bicycle last year, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation 2012 Omnibus Transportation Survey.

MnDOT is now looking for input into developing a statewide bicycle system plan.

Feedback will help it identify and recommend routes, improve the existing bike system and better meet the needs of bicycle riders.

To participate, go to

Minnesotans can thank the state departments of natural resources, transportation and health, in particular, for leading the effort to promote bicycling in Minnesota.

Local government is also doing its part.

Minnesota has more than 600 miles of paved trails managed by the Department of Natural Resources.

The DNR adds about 10 miles of paved trail to the system each year.

National, regional and local governments manage thousands of additional trail miles.

It’s easy to take Minnesota for granted until you visit a state where you risk your life in traffic by walking or biking.

It’s one more thing that makes Minnesota a great place to live.