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The city of Woodbury, Minnesota (the city profiled in the blog post kindly submitted here) is a city I specifically rejected living in when my family moved back to Minnesota from Taiwan in 2001. Woodbury offered some interesting work possibilities for my wife, but when we drove through the city to look around, we were appalled to discover that it was nearly impossible to find a place to live that was within walking distance to any kind of shopping, much less to both shopping and services. In Minnetonka, Minnesota, about fifty minutes away by car across the Twin Cities metropolitan area, the lifestyle is still very car-centered, being far from the urban core. But city planning here in Minnetonka has been very intentional about building a city walking and biking trail system, with links to a regional rails-to-trails biking trail network, such that we can walk to the public library (as we are about to do just now), a mile out and a mile back, and walk to much of our shopping (the same distance in a different direction) by the city trails. My wife can bike-commute year-round, and we are able to substitute a LOT of biking or walking for what would be driving trips in most of the United States. My children are fit, healthy, and fearless. They walk all over the place in our crime-free, friendly, diverse neighborhood. I still like the higher density of Taipei or Panchiao, Taiwan even better, and my oldest son likes living in car-free Manhattan now that he works as a programmer for a start-up, but the lifestyle here is not too bad. We know lots and lots of neighbors by sight, having met them repeatedly while walking, and we see deer, coyote, wild turkeys, and much other wildlife while we are on our walks. The United States has a long way to go to be weaned off of car-dependence, but it can happen, and each municipality's government can help make it happen.




I'd love to hear the logistics of biking to work in Minnesota in the winter. I live in an area with a similar climate and have to give up biking from October through May.

What is it about the winter logistics that keeps you from cycling?

You need a route that has paths or roads suitable for biking, but this is not any different from cycling in the summer. I switch to studded tires in November (http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/studdedtires.asp) and wear clothing layers appropriate for the weather. My thermo tights are good down to 15 F or so depending on the wind. Below that I wear another bottom layer. One to four layers on top, warm windproof gloves, sometimes a balaclava, sometimes goggles. Below -5 F I usually drive. And when it has freshly snowed and the roads are a mess.

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