Cities all over the world — especially Europe — are known for their bike friendliness. But, cities across the United States are making strides in ensuring that their streets are accessible and safe for cyclists. BikingExpert.com has compiled a list of the top 10 most bike friendly cities in the United States for EfficientGov.
Cycling is an incredibly beneficial exercise. Your whole body gets a workout, including your heart, and as a bonus, your exercise doubles as a form of transportation. When you rely on a bicycle instead of a car to commute, you can save money on gas, auto insurance, car payments and parking fees. You can feel good about using your own two legs to get around, reducing air pollution while experiencing the health benefits of biking. The following U.S. cities make it easy for residents to reap the many benefits of bicycle transportation.
#1 Minneapolis, Minn.
You may not think of a congested metropolis as a great place for cycling, but Minneapolis has invested a lot of resources in the infrastructure required to support a large bicycle community. The city has a growing bike share program and network of bike lanes. In 2015, the municipal budget included $750,000 to build protected bikeways around the city, especially to make sure bike lanes stay clear of snow and ice in winter. Minneapolis was the first American city included in the Copenhagenize Index of the most bike friendly cities in the world, and it’s still the only U.S. city to rank in the top 20.
#2 Portland, Ore.
As self-proclaimed “Bike City, USA,” Portland is well recognized for its efforts to support a bike friendly community. The city has programs to supply bike lockers, public bike rentals, free safety information and more. Portland even circulates free maps for tourists wishing to explore the city on a cycling tour. As of 2013, the city had more than 315 miles of pathways for cyclists, including specially designated “bicycle boulevards.” Portland also has the highest percentage of bike commuters to work at 7 percent. Its bike share program includes more than 1,000 smart bicycles.
#3 San Francisco, Calif.
San Francisco provides more than 200 miles of bike lines and low-traffic streets for cyclists, including a raised protective lane on one of the busiest thoroughfares. Many bike racks and garages are provided for commuters throughout the city, and locals have access to a bike sharing program as well. In 2016, San Francisco was named the second most bike-friendly city in the country by Bicycling magazine.
#4 New York City, N.Y.
New York City’s public parks are known for their policies to prohibit vehicle traffic during certain hours and on weekends, making them safer for cyclists. In addition, this highly populated metropolis provides 250 miles of dedicated bike paths, a bike sharing program and other cycling facilities. Approximately 200,000 New Yorkers cycle to work every day, and half a million people bike to work more than twice a month.
#5 Detroit, Mich.
The city of Detroit supports efforts to promote bike tours. Dedicated bike lanes can be found around the city’s best attractions and other heavily trafficked areas, which provide safety as well as recreation for cyclists and tourists. In addition, public and private projects are underway to connect Detroit to other locations in Michigan and Canada, making it easier for cyclists to travel longer distances by bike.
#6 Cincinnati, Ohio
This city has approximately 60 miles of trails and pathways in addition to 250 miles of roads that have been made more bike friendly in recent years. Hundreds of bike racks and garages can be found throughout the city. The Cincinnati city government is dedicated to making biking a more viable transportation option for commuters as well as recreational cyclists. Part of the local cycling infrastructure includes plenty of signage to make vehicles more aware of road sharing and bike lanes.
#7 Philadelphia, Penn.
This city has more miles of bike lanes and paths than almost any other U.S. city at 435 miles. A bike sharing program is great for commuters, and for recreational cyclists, the city promotes a boardwalk over Schuylkill River and waterfront bike paths. A network of 750 miles of bike trails is in the works with about 300 miles completed so far.
#8 Boulder, Colo.
Boulder helps ensure that cyclists stay safe with its city-wide anti-theft program. There are 300 miles of bike lines and paths, a network that has been built up over the years by an active biking community. Home to outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds, Boulder features many winding paths for recreational cyclists as well as protected underpasses for commuters within the city.
#9 Austin, Texas
While Austin is a great bike friendly city for commuters to work, the city has taken special efforts to promote bike tourism. Cycling maps are available throughout Austin, and the downtown area has four major bike paths. Hundreds of miles of dedicated bike lanes and plenty of bike racks make the city convenient for cyclists. In 2015, Austin was given gold status on the League of American Bicyclists’ list of Bicycle Friendly Communities, making it the only city in Texas with that designation. The city government’s Bicycle Master Plan is dedicated to making the city even safer for cyclists and growing the local biking community.
#10 Chicago, Ill.
In 2016, Bicycling magazine named Chicago the Best Bike City in America. Commuters have access to 200 miles of paths and trails, and recreational cyclists can enjoy a 20-mile trail along Lake Michigan. Chicago is proud to offer thousands of bike racks and parking garages and other cycling infrastructure, especially alongside rail stations to make longer trips easier for bike commuters. The local government also has programs in place to educate the public about bike safety and awareness. By 2020, Chicago plans to have more than 600 miles of dedicated bike lanes in place so that residents in high ridership areas will have more resources.
Locals who have a network of bike paths, parking racks and other resources in their community are more likely to bike for work commuting, recreation and health. To develop our list of the Top 10 Most Bike Friendly Cities in the U.S., we looked at cities with bike sharing programs, protected bike lanes and other infrastructure designed to support cyclists.
To learn about more bike friendly cities, see BikingExpert.com’s 75 most bike friendly cities in the world.
About the author
BikingExpert.com was created to share knowledge about biking — from learning how to bike to recommending certain types of bikes for any occasions.