Minnehaha Falls

Hooray Hooray! Minneapolis Is Above Average Per Several Studies

Loring Park

Loring Park, Minneapolis. Via Flickr/Creative Commons

Minneapolis has been officially deemed “the best,” which is mathematically proven to mean “above average in rating pools greater than 1 unit,” in several recent studies published by various organizations.

  • The American College of Sports Medicine has ranked Minneapolis its “fittest city” in its Annual Fitness Index. Cited among the metro areas strengths are park spending, PE requirements in schools, number of dog parks, golf courses, fitness centers and tennis courts, and number of people using public transport or active transport to commute. Despite the profusion of farmer’s markets cited as a strength, the number of people actually eating fruits and veggies is cited by the ACSM as a negative to Minneapolis’ score. They also ding us on the number of public pools, but do not seem to have a category for “pond hockey.”
  • The Trust for Public Land has rated Minneapolis tops in its second annual ParkScore Index, unseating San Francisco from the top. Minneapolis was not rated in 2012 because the TPL only rated the top 40 cities; inclusion of 10 more allowed Minneapolis the opportunity to seize the top of the pops. Ratings are based on park access, which measures the percentage of residents living within a 10-minute walk of a park; park size, which is based on a city’s median park size and the percentage of total city area dedicated to parks; and services and investment, which combines the number of playgrounds per 10,000 city residents and per capita park spending.
  • PC Magazine cites Minneapolis as the most Wi-Fi friendly city, allowing all these fit people in parks to apparently also access the internet.
  • Minneapolis is also the #9 metro area in WalkScore ratings, measuring the walkability of our fair Mini-Apple.
Minnehaha Falls

Minnehaha Falls Park, via Flickr/Creative Commons

What does all this mean? Well, it means various organizations are having a good time making ranked lists and getting media attention for doing so. (Yes, we’re writing about it too.) Most of these studies consider only the top 50 cities, which means St. Paul is not a part of consideration.

These studies also don’t address the desire to create multiple blocks of green space near the new Vikings stadium while closing several streets to traffic of all sorts. While this might make things more walkable, it would bollox transit in ways that suck.

There are lots of things not considered by this survey. A few come to mind: the legislature’s failure to deal with transit funding during this session. The declining funding for Minneapolis parks from standard Minneapolis revenue streams, and greater reliance on Legacy Amendment funds. The role of skyways in insulating people from their environment.

Once you accept that the purpose of most of these studies and releases is to gain attention for the sponsor organizations — and that rating scales are determined based on that group’s public policy agenda — what these studies really say is that Minneapolis does well with hitting policy organization benchmarks.

Hooray hooray.

About Julie Kosbab

Julie Kosbab is an online marketing consultant and active transportation advocate living in Anoka County, Minnesota. She was one of Minnesota's only League of American Bicyclists Certified Instructors when certified in 2005, and is no longer lonely in that calling. A past member of the National Bicycle Tour Directors Association, she has 2 children and a garage full of bicycles. Find her on Twitter as @betweenstations, or read her (seldom updated) blog at Ride Boldly!