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5 of America’s Best Cities for Cyclists

Given that transportation is the leading source of greenhouse gas emissions in America, it’s vital to consider alternatives to car travel for the sake of our planet. The World Health Organization has emphasized that boosting biking and walking is key to combating climate change.

Just by opting to cycle instead of driving once a day, you could cut your carbon emissions from travel by two-thirds.

So, if you’re pondering a bike-friendly getaway or even planning to move to a city where cycling is a viable option, these are the top 5 U.S. locations worth considering:

Boulder, Colorado

This sunny city, which has a population above 100,000, topped PeopleForBikes’ 2019 list of America’s most bike-friendly cities.

It’s no surprise when you consider its 300 miles of bike routes and an average of 300 sunny days each year. The city features separate pathways for bikers and walkers, apart from car lanes, along with special underpasses just for cyclists and pedestrians.

Boulder residents are 20 times more likely to commute by bike compared to the average American. And if you’re ever caught in a sudden downpour, no worries – every local bus comes with bike racks.

Davis, California

With its first bike lane introduced in 1967, the city of Davis has consistently focused on making cycling a viable means of transportation for its residents.

Now, a staggering 98% of Davis’ main streets have some form of bicycle infrastructure. This includes wide bike lanes that are separate from vehicular traffic and strategically placed air pumps along major routes.

The terrain is relatively flat and the weather is usually conducive to biking, contributing to an impressive bike-commuting rate of 13.8%.

As a nod to its cycling culture, Davis is also home to the United States Bicycling Hall of Fame, further solidifying its place as a mecca for U.S. cycling enthusiasts.

For those looking to maintain or repair their bikes, the nonprofit Davis Bike Collective offers a public DIY shop stocked with necessary tools. To add an extra layer of security, Davis residents can register their bicycles through the Bike Index, aiding in the identification of lost or stolen bikes.

Madison, Wisconsin

Madison, Wisconsin has earned its reputation as the Midwest’s unofficial bike capital. The city has been recognized for its health-centric ethos, which is amplified by its focus on walkability and bikeability.

In 2015, Livability highlighted Madison as one of the healthiest cities in the U.S., in no small part due to these efforts.

About 5% of Madison’s residents choose to commute via bicycle. This is a significant number considering the size of the city and the often challenging winter weather conditions.

For those who don’t own a bike or are just visiting, the Madison BCycle program offers an accessible and convenient option. This bike-sharing system has over 40 locations throughout the city, making it easy to rent a bike for a quick commute or a leisurely day of sightseeing.

San Francisco, California

San Francisco is a leader in urban cycling, boasting 463 miles of bikeways and an average of 128,000 daily bicycle trips.

Despite its hilly terrain, 16% of residents are “frequent cyclists,” riding at least twice a week. The SFMTA offers a trip planner to help navigate the city’s bike-friendly routes, and with 280 bikeshare stations, it’s convenient for both residents and tourists to opt for two wheels.

The city’s commitment to cycling not only serves its community but also aligns with broader goals of sustainability and reducing its carbon footprint.

Portland, Oregon

Portland stands out as a biking mecca in the U.S., with 6.3% of its population commuting by bike, vastly exceeding the national average of 0.5%.

The city boasts a 385-mile bike network, including greenways and bike lanes, and plans to add nearly 100 more miles.

Valued at $60 million, this infrastructure has earned Portland the prestigious Platinum Level Bicycle Friendly Community certification from the League of American Bicyclists.

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