Best Cities for Biking

Best Cities for Biking

From 2000 to 2014, bicycle commuting in the U.S. grew by 62%, according to the League of American Bicyclists. And with personal health and the environment moving to the front of most minds, it seems like the time to be biking. We worked to come up with best cities in the U.S. for bicyclists, using 16 data points from nine reputable sources. Below you will find our results, as well as a detailed methodology explaining how we arrived at them.

Best Places for Biking

There are a lot of different factors that make a city ideal for bicyclists. We attempted to gather as many of these as possible to create the most well-rounded list. Below, we take a look at three of these factors in greater detail and point to their origin.

Here is how 200 cities with qualifying data stacked up in the three separate categories that we studied. In all rankings below, a lower number is better than a higher number.

Rank

City
Roads and Trails
Riders and Bicycles
Safety and Weather

1

Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI23350

2

Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD292323

3

New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA542516

4

Boise City, ID465101

5

Salt Lake City, UT503245

6

Gainesville, FL105363

7

Trenton, NJ601871

8

Provo-Orem, UT502281

9

Lincoln, NE452156

9

Savannah, GA323777

11

Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH111619

12

Austin-Round Rock, TX782931
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Top (and Bottom) Five Cities for:

While roads and trails are most helpful in bike commuting, parks are still a great place for a ride. Using The Trust for Public Land as a resource, we looked at the percentage of a city’s population within a half mile of a park. San Francisco topped our list with more than 98% of its population with easy park access. Full disclosure: Not all cities had a data point available, hence the lack of a "worst" list.

Park Access

Best Cities

Rank
City
State
1San FranciscoCA
2BostonMA
3New YorkNY
4MinneapolisMN
5PhiladelphiaPA
6SeattleWA
7ChicagoIL
8MilwaukeeWI
9BaltimoreMD
10DenverCO

Bike lane and road quality is a huge factor for a bicycle commuter. We assumed that the more people that are biking to work in a given city, the greater the quality of those things. The U.S. Census Bureau captures the percentage of a population that uses bicycles to commute to work. Eugene, Ore., and Santa Maria, Calif., tied at the top with 4.4% of their populations bicycling to work.

Commuters Who Bike

Best Cities

Rank
City
State
1EugeneOR
2Santa MariaCA
3BoulderCA
4Fort CollinsCO
5Santa CruzCA

Worst Cities

Rank
City
State
200LaredoTX
199El PasoTX
198MemphisTN
197AkronOH
196BirminghamAL

Quality equipment is important in both road and off-road biking. Using the U.S. Census Bureau, we looked at the number of sporting goods stores per 1,000 residents.

Most Sporting Good Stores

Best Cities

Rank
City
State
1Barnstable TownMA
2BoulderCO
3Fort CollinsCO
4CrestviewFL
5BurlingtonVT

Worst Cities

Rank
City
State
200BrownsvilleTX
199LaredoTX
198BakersfieldCA
197VisaliaCA
196HuntingtonWV

Methodology

In order to determine the best cities for bicyclists and bicycling we looked at 16 data points from nine reputable sources. Not all data points had data available for every city. In these cases, cities without a data figure were given a last-placed ranking in that specific category. Incomplete data points were given a lower weighting (in parenthesis below) in order to accommodate for missing data. Complete data points as well as those that we felt would be most important to a bicyclist were given higher weightings. The three separate categories of data points were also weighed to best capture what we believe is most important to bicyclists.

Information for a few potential data points was unavailable and had to be omitted from this study. The U.S. Census Bureau, for example, does not have current information on bike/repair shops, something we would have liked to include because bicyclists' accessibility to get tune-ups and tire refills is important. (We included data point number 16 below as a compromise.) Additionally, the Federal Bureau of Investigation groups bicycle thefts under larceny theft and, while data is available for larceny theft, bicycle theft only accounts for about 4%. As much as we wanted to account for the safety of bike owners' wheels, the absence of reliable data left something of a hole in our data categories.

Below, we breakdown each statistic and point to its origin. Those marked with an asterisk are state-based (not city-based).

Roads and Trails

1.Parkland (includes city, county, metro, state, and federal acres within city limits) (0.5)The Trust for Public Land (2014)
2.Parkland per 1,000 residents (.5)
3.Percent of population with walkable park access (within ½ mile) (.5)
4.Length of trail (in miles) *TrailLink (2016)

5.Percentage of roads in poor/mediocre condition *

U.S. Department of Transportation (2013)

Riders and Bicycles

6.Percentage of commuters who bike (2)U.S. Census Bureau (2014)
7.Bike-share program (number of bikes) (.5)Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (2014)
8.Bike-share program (number of stations) (.5)
9.Annual average bicycle death rate per million residents *Governing (2012)
10.Bicycle usage growth (from 2000 to 2014) (.5)The League of American Bicyclists (2014)

Safety and Weather

Read More: Do You Need Bike Insurance?