The most bike-friendly cities in the country from The Most Bike-Friendly Cities in the Country
The Most Bike-Friendly Cities in the Country
European cities such as Copenhagen and Amsterdam are famous for their bike-conscious city layouts and culture. Many American urban areas have been trying to catch up and have made huge strides in the past few decades in order to encourage residents to use bikes for transport and recreation.
The following 15 metro areas have strong bike communities and local governments that promote bike use and safety.
In 2017, Listshack named Austin the most eco-friendly city in the country, in part because it has almost a mile of bike lanes for every 10,000 residents. The birthplace of Whole Foods has nearly 10 miles of protected bike lanes as well as miles of scenic bike and pedestrian-exclusive trails throughout the city. Just south of downtown in Zilker Park, mountain bikers can easily access urban adventure by hopping on the 7-mile Barton Creek Greenbelt trail.
Despite the city’s urban sprawl, Boise has a crew of loud and proud bicyclers who’ve gotten planners and city officials on board to create safe and effective protected bike lanes. Though the city has hit some pushback and legal difficulties getting these changes off the ground, bike-lovers are undeterred. The annual, 3-day Pedal 4 the People festival celebrates the local bicycle community, and the nonprofit Boise Bicycle Project gives out free bicycles and helmets to kids who complete their safety course, recycles bicycles and hosts bike repair workshops.
Boulder is one of only five cities in the country to earn the League of American Bicyclist’s platinum city rating for bicycle safety, planning, culture, education and infrastructure. Boulder has more than 300 miles of bikeways, including contra-flow bike lanes and soft-surface paths. Nearly 9 percent of residents commute by bike, according to Bicycling magazine.
Despite the city’s frigid winters, Windy City residents take more than 45 million bike trips in the city per year and more than 1.6 percent of commuters use a bike for the longest part of their commute. That’s because the city of Chicago is committed to both maintaining and enlarging its bicycle infrastructure by making protected bike lanes downtown, creating hundreds of miles of new bike lanes and subsidizing the cost of its bike-share program for low-income residents.
Davis, a small city west of Sacramento, is committed to promoting a biking culture. The home of UC-Davis, the town employs two full-time bike coordinators, boasts strong cycling infrastructure with bike lanes on 95 percent of arterial roadways, and even put a bicycle in its official city logo. In Davis, 20 percent of commuters ride bikes, nearly double the rate in Boulder and far above the California state average of 1.1 percent.
Eugene, Oregon, the state’s second-largest city and home of the University of Oregon, has been one of the country’s leading bike cities for decades, but it isn’t resting on its laurels. According to Bicycle magazine, the city is working on updating bike lanes from the ‘70s by widening them and adding buffers, as well as building new bicycle-pedestrian bridges to connect business areas and neighborhoods with existing bike paths. Eugene launches its own bike share system in April 2018.
Fort Collins, Colorado
Though it’s already achieved a platinum ranking for the League of American Bicyclists, the city of Fort Collins, Colorado, is gunning to get 20 percent of commuters using bikes by the year 2020. The city offers different free bike education classes and plans to roll out a low-stress bike network that includes revamping existing lanes and creating new bike lanes and paths with protective buffers.
The state capital and home of the University of Wisconsin, Madison has more bikes than cars, according to NerdWallet, contributing to its excellent air quality. The city is easily navigated by biking and has a successful bike-sharing program. You can also bike to the neighboring metropolis of Milwaukee on a dedicated 80-mile bike path.
Minneapolis has proven itself to be a forward-thinking bike city. The majority of the Grand Rounds Scenic Byway, a 50-mile bike and pedestrian trail through the city, was constructed in the 1930s. In 2000, a former railway corridor was converted into the Midtown Greenway, a 5.7 mile walking and bicycling path through downtown Minneapolis. In total, the city has 120 miles of on-street and 90 miles of off-street bike lanes, per Wired. According to People for Bikes, nearly 400,000 riders commute to work by bike each day in Minneapolis.
New York City, New York
New York City is the king of public transit, and bikes are no exception. The Big Apple has America’s largest bike-share network; Citi Bike has more than 163,000 annual subscribers and 38,491 daily rides, according to Thrillist. Local government has committed to reducing bicycling fatalities by investing millions to install protected bike lanes. It also reduced the speed limit for cars city-wide in 2014 to 25 mph. By the next year, traffic deaths had decreased 22 percent.
Park City, Utah
Park City is a mountain biking mecca with nearby ski resorts and mountain trails, but it encourages bicycle use in the city as well. Park City has the distinction of creating the country’s first fully electric bike-share program in 2017. Because of the city’s urban sprawl and mountainous terrain, the city opted for a fleet consisting entirely of e-bikes to encourage commuters to use their bikes for transportation rather than recreation.
Another city with a coveted platinum Bicycle Friendly State ranking, Portland is one of America’s greenest cities. It recently doubled its Biketown bike share system fleet to 1,000 and new bike lane and road projects are mandated to be designed with protected bike lanes. About 6 percent of Portland commuters bike to work, and in 2016, voters approved a 10-cent-a-gallon gas tax to discourage driving and provide millions of dollars toward road repairs and pedestrians and bicyclist safety improvements.
San Francisco, California
Despite the daunting hills, San Francisco continues to be one of America’s best biking cities. On the popular Market Street bike lane alone, more than 1 million annual trips are taken. The city added 50 pedal-assist e-bikes to its bike share program fleet in 2018. It hopes to have 7,000 total bikes available for use at 546 stations across the San Francisco Bay Area by the end of the year, which would make it the second-largest bike-sharing system in North America.
Despite Seattle’s famously rainy weather making pavement wet for months every year, roughly 650,000 people commute to work each day in this Northwest city. In 2014, residents voted for a property tax increase in order to fund a $65 million, 50-mile network of protected bikeways and a 60-mile network of neighborhood greenways over the next nine years.
The nation’s capital was one of the first cities to implement a widespread bike-share program, according to Bicycle magazine, and has permanent protected bike lanes with blockades in place between the lanes and passing cars so even the most novice bike commuter or tourist feels safe. The city built 80 miles of bike lanes between 2000 and 2017, with a goal of working up to 136 total miles by 2040.