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The 50 Best Cities for Biking in the US


Social connection. Rejuvenation outdoors. Play time. Biking serves all of those human needs, and more including sustainable transportation, especially within the best cities for biking in the US. Recently, Americans nationwide have been inspired like never before to pick up a bike to power healthier lifestyles or urban commutes. If you recently tried to buy a new bike or parts to upgrade the one you own, you may have experienced a supply bottleneck resulting in lengthy delays. 

By July 2021, cycling equipment revenue reached $8.5 billion, a 15 percent surge over the year prior, reports The NPD Group. Furthermore, bicycle sales alone grew by 65 percent in the same time period—and across every type: Electric bikes, children’s bikes, road bikes, gravel bikes, and cruiser bikes. A golden era for bikes was already in swing prior to the pandemic. Now, with the urgency that our changing climate presents and emphasis on sustainable travel and transportation, bike usage is in the spotlight like never before. Thankfully, with the growth of cycling came a growth in bicycle infrastructure and legislation to keep cyclists safe and away from car traffic.

As one of the leading operators of cycling adventures around the world, we decided to take a closer look at which destinations nationwide are most ideal for bicyclists, and why. Because sometimes, you don’t need to travel far to experience adventure on two wheels. 

Hover over each city to see more details on its ranking.

 
Using our research related to bike infrastructure (such as bike lanes and bike paths), bikesharing, overall safety, number of bike commuters, as well as climate, we narrowed down the top 50 best cities for biking in the U.S. Read more on our methodology.

 

In greater detail, here are the best of the best, the 10 most bike friendly cities in the US:

 

1. Portland, Oregon


The City of Roses is the second safest and one of the most favored cities for bike commuting in the entire country for good reason. The community’s first bicycle plan for urban development was adopted nearly five decades ago. Today, bike culture runs deep throughout the city. Nearly 6 percent of the workforce—22,000 pedalers—travels by bike. One thousand bikeshare bikes are available for pickup throughout the city.

Several hundred miles of bike lanes decorate the urbanscape including a portion that are protected and buffered from traffic, many of which are painted with whimsical characters donning wild hair and hats. Indeed, from one of the world’s largest naked bike rides to the summer-long Pedalpalooza bike festival, Portland knows how to have fun on two wheels.

 

2. Washington, District of Columbia


Beyond blossoming and well-designed bike infrastructure, Washington, D.C., ranks number one in safety and is among the most pleasant climates to bike in. More than 16,000 bike commuters cover miles each day. Visitors and locals alike have access to a whopping 6,100 bikeshare cycles, sending D.C. to the number one spot for bikeshare resources in the nation.

As a leader of the Safe Routes to School program, don’t be surprised to see hordes of kiddos rolling along on bike-to-school days. And for visitors of the nation’s capital, there’s hardly a better way to experience the 160-plus monuments and memorials than by two wheels. But be sure to check out the DC Bike Party community night rides, too.

 

3. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


Whether you’re cycling to Bartram’s Garden—the oldest botanical garden in North America—vibrant Chinatown, or Independence Hall, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the birthplace of the United States, Philadelphia is one of the best biking cities in the U.S. In fact, it ranks as the top overall city in our list for bike commuting.

This enormous historic hub received the nation’s top spot for bike commuting and boasts several hundred miles of bike lanes. Jet-setters can pick up a bikeshare ride from more than 100 stations throughout the city or book a city bike tour with Philly Bike Tours, led by local guides.

 

4. Boston, Massachusetts


Boston is nothing short of bustling and in recent years has added more protected bike lanes from Longfellow Bridge to Massachusetts Avenue. The Cradle of Modern America also provides one of the top bikeshare setups, with just under 1,500 bicycles available to the public across 160 stations.

Cyclists can venture toward Boston Harbor and the heart of the city to experience the Freedom Trail: a 2.5-mile red-brick trail that connects 16 national historic sites from Boston Common to the Bunker Hill Monument. The self-guided or guided walking tour, often led by guides donned in 18th century apparel, shares a glimpse into the American Revolution. Then refuel with a bowl of New England Clam Chowder.

 

5. San Francisco, California


Hardly any location in the world is as glorious for riding cruisers than sunny California, and San Francisco holds a reputation as one of the best cities for biking in the nation. Plus, the ‘city by the bay’ holds the number one spot for cycling infrastructure. Favored for bicycle riders, the 8x8-mile city offers nearly 31 miles of protected and buffered bike lanes, and has greatly improved the safety of two-wheel travelers.

While enjoying the Bay Area, cyclists of all ages can’t miss venturing to and snagging a portrait in front of one of the most iconic landmarks in America, the Golden Gate Bridge. Then bike the nearly 2 miles across into hilly, but beautiful, Marin County. Afterwards, swing by the San Francisco chapter of the Rapha Cycling Club fine bike apparel store for a cup of crafted coffee and pastry or join a social clubhouse spin and screenings of live races.

 

 

6. Minneapolis, Minnesota


Despite the chilly temps, bike culture is alive and well in Minneapolis. The city is known as one of the nation’s most enjoyable metropolitan areas for outdoor enthusiasts, as the city is chock full of green spaces and off-street bike trails. Lucky for visitors, more than 1,800 bicycles speckle the city through bikeshare, the second-best and most accessible program on our list.

Minneapolis also sits second behind San Francisco for the best bike infrastructure. From scoping out the iconic Spoonbridge and Cherry to the Chain of Lakes, adventurers can balance the rich art scene with beach lounging and scenic rides along historic railroad beds.

 

7. Fort Collins, Colorado


Don’t let its small size fool you. Fort Collins is as progressive as they come when it comes to a city centered around bicyclists. Bikers travel from far and wide to experience the Tour de Fat, an annual bike-led community parade and celebration founded by New Belgium Brewing, in the event’s birthplace. Costumes are heavily encouraged. Fort Collins has developed 200 miles of bike lanes, and most importantly, podiums as one of the top three safest cities for biking in the country.

The ease of biking is thanks to thoughtfully constructed paths including under- and overpasses that allow bicyclists to avoid main street crossings. As a result, compared to other cities of its size, Fort Collins has a robust pool of commuters reaching nearly 7,800.

 

8. Jersey City, New Jersey


Jersey City, another lively, coastal metropolitan in our guide, ranks among the best bike friendly cities due to a well-built bike sharing program and network of bikeshare stations, with 500 bikes for explorers to use. Jersey City also ranks as the second best city for bike commutes. Tucked against the Upper New York Harbor, cyclists can enjoy jaw-dropping views of the Manhattan skyline, Statue of Liberty, and Ellis Island from Liberty State Park. Despite its relatively small size, Jersey City boasts multiple bike shops within the city limits, such as Grove Street Bicycles.
 

 

9. Seattle, Washington


Whether you start with a ride to the famed Space Needle, Puget Sound, or Pioneer Square in the city center, you can’t go wrong with enjoying the Emerald City on two human-powered (or electric-assisted) wheels. To name a few of the top-tier design elements, Seattle’s bike lanes sport concrete buffers, cycling-specific light signals, and rails at intersections (for bicyclists to lean on). The city also lowered the timing of several hundred traffic signals, added traffic islands, and narrowed lanes to increase safety for bicyclists. Though Seattle is a bit late to the party, there is a bike sharing program up and running, too.

 

10. Chicago, Illinois


With nearly 22,000 bike commuters, The Second City ranks high among our list as one of the best places to venture out by bicycle. In great part, that high badge is thanks to the supportive infrastructure: nearly 86 miles of protected, buffered bike lanes weave through the city. Plus, the bike sharing program is strong with close to 580 stations and more than 5,800 bicycles available for urban adventurers.

After bicycle riders check out Cloud Gate, known as The Bean, they can head over to the Garfield Park Conservatory to relish thousands of plant specimens or go kayaking in the Chicago River. Of course no visit to Chicago would be complete without deep-dish pizza at Lou Malnati’s, which has been serving pies with buttery crust since 1971.




 

Best Cities for Biking Methodology

Our study on the best cities for biking in the United States examined data across the five categories below. Before ranking, cities were classified as either small/medium (those with a population of 749,999 or less) or large (population of more than 750,000).

 

  1. Bike infrastructure data was sourced by the League of American Bicyclists and weighted based on the miles of protected bike lanes and miles of bike lanes overall. Note, our analysis looked at existing bike lanes and designated bike lanes, but did not include future planned additions.
  2. Bikeshare reports were gathered by People for Bikes, which ranked cities based on available bike sharing programs and infrastructure, as well as overall ridership and population density.
  3. The bike commuter ranking—which measures how many people per capita commute by bike, and also the percentage of total commuters that travel by bike—is based on the Streetlight Climate Impact Index.
  4. Temperature and the average hottest and coldest days in each city played a role in the overall ranking, too, with 60 degrees Fahrenheit as the ideal cycling weather. Precipitation did not factor into our rankings.
  5. Finally, the safety ratings for bicyclists were based on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, determined by the annual fatality rate of cyclists per every 100,000 commuters and per 1 million residents.

 

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