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Which City Is No. 1 for Biking? REI's Cycling Town Showdown Continues to Narrow the Field

Boom! Portland has taken its place at center court in the inaugural REI Cycling Town Showdown.

Who will join them? That’s up to you, the voters. Join the fray by making a comment on REI’s Facebook page in today’s knockdown semifinal.

Cycling Town Showdown is REI’s unscientific but entertaining 8-city bracket tournament to determine which U.S. city is the country’s best biking town. Why do it? We just figured we should take this discussion to the people. Who knows better than the riders themselves?

bike-bracket-portland-wins-semi

Portland is in the finals. Today's semifinal between Minneapolis and Denver will determine its opponent in the championship. (Le artiste du bracket: Chris Mahan)

Portland, the reigning No. 1 destination in Bicycling magazine’s 2012 ranking of America’s Most Bike-Friendly City, on Monday knocked off Seattle 149-102 in our first semifinal. So the Rose City has advanced to Wednesday's finals. (Update: The final will involve a single day of voting, not 2 days as previously reported here. We apologize for any inconvenience this causes.)

A slugfest of a semifinal is now in progress: Minneapolis, the No. 1 city in Bicycling’s 2011 rankings, is duking it out with the Force from the Front Range: Denver. More than 1,600 votes have already been cast. Are you in?

Minneapolis flat-out crushed New York City 550-9 in its first-round match. But 14th-ranked Denver, representing a deep-rooted Colorado bike culture that stretches from Boulder (No. 3) to Fort Collins (No. 11) to Colorado Springs (No. 31), is giving MSP a battle in today’s semi. To vote, get to REI’s Facebook page and sound off with a comment. Your comment = your vote. Details:

Minneapolis vs. Denver (voting in progress)

Minneapolis stands at No. 2 spot in Bicycling magazine's 2012 list, a fact that does not sit well with the city's proud cyclists. Judging by the outpouring of support from REI voters—Minneapolis hammered New York City in the first round by the eye-bugging score of 550-9—MSP could be considered a favorite to win it all. But early returns show Denver is putting up a serious fight. Some factors we pointed out yesterday:

As mentioned in a post last week, Minneapolis offers 92 miles of on-street bike lanes and 85 more off-street and sponsors a very popular Nice Ride “green bikes” rental program, where cyclists grab a neon green loaner at one commuter hub and drop it off at another.

Voters chimed in often to support their views. Eric Svante Mellgren: “There is more bike parking than car parking at Target field where the Twins play.” Amanda Reeder: “The plows clear the greenway [a primary urban biking corridor] before they plow the streets after snowstorms. Hah.” William Chu: “We have that bikeshare down, amazing trails and the people aren't afraid of a little ice, snow and subzero temps.”

But Denver, which topped fourth-ranked Washington, D.C. 396-255 in a spirited first-round battle, has lots of support. Voter Meg Rapp makes her case for the Mile High City: "Plowed, well maintained trails funded by lotto proceeds, generous bike lanes throughout the city, B-cycle, bike valet at major sporting events, all the sunshine, Pro Bike Challenge, Lookout Mountain, and so many other great things for cyclists."

Denver fans love to tout the B-Cycle bikeshare program, and as voter Nikki Jackson pointed out, crummy weather does not deter riders in this part of the country, either: “My hubby rides to work every day, even during a blizzard! That's just how we roll.” Minneapolis supporter Eric North counters on behalf of the Twin Cities: "Biking in below zero to above 100 degrees is a commitment."

Want in on this? Speed over to REI's Facebook page.

Posted on at 12:31 PM

Tagged: Cycling and urban cycling

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