When you choose to travel by bike in a large metropolitan area (or really, anywhere for that matter) you want to know that you can do so safely.
Compared to a quiet suburban street or a hilly rural road, safety in large, hectic, traffic-heavy cities, might not seem like much of a guarantee at first.
But upon second glance, you’ll actually come to find that city cycling can be quite safe. More and more cities are investing in better bike infrastructures, an increasing number of people are choosing to commute to work by bike and the amount of bike shares across the world are growing at an almost exponential rate.
Of course the level of safety you can expect depends on what city you’re riding in. Or so we’ve found by analyzing several data points from the 2014 Benchmark Report from the Alliance for Biking & Walking (ABW) and city “Bike Scores” as calculated by Walk Score.
Last year when we created our list of the 10 safest cities for cyclists, we also consulted the 2014 Benchmark Report from the ABW, but the final ranking was solely based on the percentage of people who commute to work by bike for each city.
Mary Lauran Hall, communications director at the ABW said the organization found that when more people ride bikes, the safer a city tends to be for cyclists.
However, this time around we felt that by factoring in several more data points and creating our own scoring system we could get a more accurate understanding of which cities may really be safer than others.
For example, Chicago is considered one of the most “bike-friendly” cities in the world (meaning, it’s pretty easy to get around by bike) and it has the sixteenth largest percentage of people commuting to work by bike out of 52 large U.S. cities (according to the ABW’s 2014 report), but the average number of bicycle fatalities reported each year is six—a figure much larger than any city that ultimately made our final list.
What we took from this: just because a city is “bike-friendly” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s entirely safe.
So, in order to compile a more accurate ranking we compared our original list of the safest U.S. cities for cyclists with a list of what, according to the folks at Walk Score, are considered the most “bike-friendly” U.S. cities. Both lists included many of the same cities, but they weren’t exactly the same.
For each city, we identified the percentage of people commuting to work by bike, the average number of bicycle fatalities reported annually (according to the ABW’s 2014 report) and the Bike Score (according to Walk Score). From there, we ranked the cities in separate lists according to each factor and created a scoring system with a total possible score of 30.
Each factor was weighed equally—cities got more points for having a higher bike score and a higher percentage of bike commuters, but less points the higher their number of reported bicycle fatalities. (Cities whose scores were tied were ranked based on the percentage of people commuting to bike by work; the city with the larger percentage was promoted to the higher-ranked spot.)
Upon our final calculations, we found the following 10 cities to the be the safest for cyclists in the U.S.