America's Best College Towns for Cycling

America's Best College Towns for Cycling

#10 Missoula, MT

Percent Commuting by Bike: 6.2
One would think the logging, mining, and farming around Missoula might quiet the area into a sleepy Northwestern lull, but quite the opposite: lush forests, rivers and lakes encourage a thriving outdoor culture in this home of the University of Montana, which is host to an energetic cycling population. Nobody in Missoula has to be without a bike: students can check out free yellow cruisers from UM for up to two days, and community members can head to the non-profit Free Cycles for dirt-cheap rentals ($5 for three days) or, better yet, a free bike in exchange for two volunteer hours.

#9 Madison, WI

Percent Commuting by Bike: 6.2
Plentiful dive bars; a thriving scene for hiking, fishing and boating; Big Ten sports, breweries, local organic foods, a revolving door of shows and concerts …what more can a college student ask for? How about one of the best networks of bike lanes and paths in the Midwest and a B-Cycle bike sharing program to go with it.

#8 Santa Barbara, CA

Percent Commuting by Bike: 6.9
Though most students live in nearby Isla Vista, commuting to Santa Barbara’s UC campus is only a matter of hopping in the saddle. The Californian weather certainly contributes to the youthful, active spirit and high levels of everyday cycling, which is one reason UCSB was picked by The Active Times as one of America’s 50 Fittest Colleges

#7 Berkeley, CA

Percent Commuting by Bike: 7.6
Whether you're a biking beatnik or laid-back intellectual, Berkeley’s got the stuff—and not just for students. The relaxed, green atmosphere heartens faculty and pupil alike to ride through this Northern Californian gem: the town is linked by “bicycle boulevards” and the local commuter rail station is outfitted with both self-service bike lockers and a bike valet, making that last mile an afterthought.

#6 Fort Collins, CA

Percent Commuting by Bike: 7.9
True to its state’s reputation as a cycling hub, Fort Collins is a breath of fresh air for students at Colorado State University who prefer to get around on two wheels. Just beneath the Rocky Mountains, the town is a standout place to ride around the great outdoors, and Fort Collins itself has been recognized by the League of American Bicyclists as a platinum-level bike friendly community—the organization’s highest honor. Pictured here is the annual Tour de Fat, a traveling nationwide bike parade that got its start in Fort Collins.

#5 Cambridge, MA

Percent Commuting by Bike: 8.5
Helmets protect some assumedly high IQs around Cambridge, which is home to Harvard and MIT. The truly shrewd know to put down their books and work the body as well, and the town makes it easy: the Minuteman Commuter bikeway, which terminates at Cambridge’s Alewife ‘T’ station, links neighboring towns and feeds into a network of local bike paths, including a 14-mile paved loop around the Charles River.

#4 Eugene, OR

Percent Commuting by Bike: 8.7
Sprinkled between the Douglas firs are many of the perks of college town life: the Saturday food and art markets, galleries by the strip and a massive sports culture (Go, Ducks!). With all the local watering holes, too, no wonder college classic Animal House was filmed on the University of Oregon campus. Beyond the significant cultural pulls, the city is extremely bike-friendly and accessible—including a bike loan program by U of O and the scenic Willamette River Trail. 

#3 Palo Alto, CA

Percent Commuting by Bike: 9.5
In spite of its upscale boutiques and fancy eateries catering to the Silicon Valley crowd, Palo Alto is still a college town thanks to the presence of Stanford University. The university is a safe and well-maintained locale for commuting pedal pushers: it’s dotted with self-service bicycle repair stands, bike storage lockers and commuter showers; and the town’s Caltrain stop has a full-service bike station for storage, rentals and more. 

#2 Boulder, CO

Percent Commuting by Bike: 12.1
With 30,000 students enrolled at the University of Colorado’s main campus, Boulder is in no shortage of butts to fill saddles. A dedicated municipal planning system means abundant open space, bike lanes and paths, and a cultural atmosphere that encourages eco-friendly transportation. Boulder’s B-Cycle bike share also offers discounts to students, who can join for only $40 a year.

#1 Davis, CA

Percent Commuting by Bike: 19.1
Thanks to the city’s flat topography, world-class network of bikeways and thriving student population—over a third of the locals are in school—nearly a fifth of the town rides to work or school. Some even say bicycles outnumber people. Given the city’s longstanding green spirit, thriving music, food and art scenes, residents of Yolo County seem to live up to the name.