10 of the Best Cycling Cities in the U.S.

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10 of the Best Cycling Cities in the U.S.

With an increasing number of bike lanes, improving infrastructure and overall safer environment, there’s never been a better time to ride a bike in the U.S. Below are 10 cities in the U.S. that are especially bike-friendly, listed in alphabetical order:

AUSTIN, TEXAS

Photo Credit: BikeTexas

With a $50-million transportation bond that will go toward building new bike lanes within the city, cycling in Austin is booming. Within the existing 210-mile bicycle network, there are 20 miles of protected bike lanes, and the 2014 Bicycle Master Plan aims to add more to make commuters feel safer and get current non-cyclists out on the road. The new multi-million-dollar bridge path across the Barton Creek Greenbelt, spanning 800 acres through some of the most scenic areas of Austin, also opens this year.

BOULDER, COLORADO

Photo Credit: Reid.Neureiter

Almost 10% of residents commute daily by bike, and with low-trafficked roads and more than 300 miles of dedicated bike lanes with more to come, Boulder is as close as it gets to cycling heaven. If you’re into testing your fitness, Boulder features some of the best mountain passes in all of the United States — which is why tons of professional cyclists make Boulder their residence of choice in the offseason.

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS

Photo Credit: Chicago Bicycle Program

Chicago’s Loop Link transit project was one of the largest cycling projects in any major city, but the city isn’t done when it comes to upgrading its cycling infrastructure. When complete, Chicago’s Cycling Plan 2020 will create a 645-mile bike network (200 miles currently) and 100 miles of protected bike lanes — including a downtown network, which will be the first in any major U.S. city. Divvy, the cities bike-share program, is also the second largest in the country — and with the opening of the Bike Marsh Bike Park for mountain bikers and cyclocross racers, Chicago is definitely setting the example for building cycling infrastructure in major urban areas.

DAVIS, CALIFORNIA

Photo Credit: Michael Hicks

While Davis is not nearly as big as the other cities on this list, it keeps cyclists top of mind. Within its 11 square miles, the city boasts more than 100 miles of designated bike lanes and paths, and it has more bike commuters per capita than any other city in the U.S. In 2005 the League of American Cyclists named Davis the first city to receive platinum status for its infrastructure, awareness and dedication to providing a safe environment to ride.


READ MORE > 10 EPIC U.S. GRAN FONDOS WORTH TRYING


MADISON, WISCONSIN

Photo Credit: shutterjet

In 2015, Madison joined Portland, Oregon, Boulder, Colorado, and Davis, California, as one of a handful of cities to earn a platinum bicycle-friendly community ranking. While Wisconsin might not be the first state that comes to mind when you think of cycling, the city’s partnership with Trek to improve infrastructure in and around the city has quickly made it the cycling capital of the Midwest. All told, there are 75 miles of dedicated bike paths and more than 200 miles of trails — it’s also home to one of the best Ironman bike courses in the country.

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA

Photo Credit: nickfalbo

In 2014, the U.S. Census Bureau ranked Minneapolis the number 2 city in the U.S. for commuting by bike. Known for its dedicated cycling freeways that include cycling-only bridges, the city boasts 129 miles of on-street bike paths and 97 miles of off-street bike paths that are closed to vehicles. In addition to plenty of low-traffic neighborhood routes and one of the best bike-share programs in the country, Minneapolis has even more protected bike lanes on the horizon for three major city corridors that are currently scheduled to be completed by 2020.

PORTLAND, OREGON

Photo Credit: Elly Blue

For a city with a population of more than 500,000, you won’t find a more bike-friendly place to ride than Portland. The new gas tax approved by voters will provide just over $28 million to make improvements in the cycling infrastructure in the city within the next four years. With these kind of improvements being made to a city that already boasts 350 miles of bikeways, it’s not hard to see why the League of American Cyclists named Portland the only major city to receive platinum status in their rankings for bicycle-friendly communities.

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA

Photo Credit: nickfalbo

Though the hilly terrain isn’t the easiest to navigate, San Francisco is a cycling city on the rise. Currently the city has 125 miles of bike lanes and 69 miles of off-street paths. While these numbers are impressive, it’s the planned 500-mile Bay Trail circling the entire San Francisco Bay that’s the game changer. And with the new bike-share system that will increase the number of bikes from 700 to 7,000 in the next two years, cycling in San Francisco will continue to get a whole lot easier.


READ MORE > A CYCLIST’S LOVE LETTER TO BIKE COMMUTING


SEATTLE, WASHINGTON

Photo Credit: SDOT Photos

Part of the Green Lane Project, which helped U.S. cities create and improve existing bike lanes, Seattle has continued to add protected bike lanes and revamp its bike-share program over the past few years. When completed, Seattle’s goal is to have bike routes within a quarter mile of each of its residents and more than  600 miles (134 miles currently) of bike paths — including 104 miles of protected bike lanes. While city approval and funding are still issues, Seattle is a city that’s definitely on the right track.

TUCSON, ARIZONA

Photo Credit: Eric McCarthy

Whether you’re riding the 27-mile climb up Mt. Lemmon or cruising along the care-free 100-mile Loop Trail network that circles the city, Tucson is a city built for cyclists of all interests levels. With all the sunshine and warm weather, cycling is a year-round activity for residents and visiting professionals alike. Add in the Bicycle Boulevard Master Plan, which aims to incorporate 193-miles of bike boulevards, and you’ve got a city that’s dedicated to making life pleasant for anyone who likes to ride a bike.

Related

  • Bob Fiddler

    What, no mention of Washington, DC?

    • Tom

      just what i was thinking.

      • Roy Rathbun

        Me too……

        • Laura McFarland

          Me three…

  • Kailuanomo

    And no mention of Denver? I lived there for a couple of years and could easily bike close to 100 miles without having to deal with more than two or three street crossings.

  • Diana Shier

    I live in Austin and it is not bike friendly.

    • Maggie Grace Rasor

      True, but with all the Californians there they have to pretend it is.

  • Laura McFarland

    I live in Austin as well and agree it is not bike friendly. However, Washington DC is super bike friendly – can’t believe there’s no mention.

  • BillStrahm

    Hmmmm… San Francisco? Are you crazy?

    I can deal with aggressive drivers, SF the drivers are homicidal. The roads are way over crowded, and way too many lights.

    That said – go down highway 1 (well, once you get past half moon bay) or cross the golden gate bridge and the biking is great – those are san francisco though

  • Richard Beltzhoover

    No mention of the MONON trail that runs about 25 miles, from DT Indy to Sheridan, IN. It’s replete with bridges and tunnels in the high traffic areas.

  • karlseidel

    Uhm…RAGBRAI? Iowa…(Des Moines area – alone) has hundreds of miles of trails. 10’s of thousands of cyclists land here annually for Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa.

    • Linda Roland Janda

      My son ( who rides for a CO college team) is participating in the “Great Bike Ride Across Iowa.”

  • Linda Roland Janda

    You forgot the biking capital of the US….. DURANGO, CO! Give her a look! A bit sick ( no offense, tho) to Boulder ALWAYS being in the spotlight.

    • Boulderite70

      Durango should get high marks for mountain biking, but not road biking. And, Durango isn’t a city, but a town. Boulder barely qualifies as a city, but enough transplants have moved here in the past few years that it certainly feels like a overcrowded, impersonal city.

    • Linda Roland Janda

      I wasn’t aware that Durango isn’t a city! Thanks for bringing it to my attention. However, Fort Lewis College Cycling Team has more than their share of road cyclists. They just hosted the Iron Horse Classic. ( Durango to Silverton; over 2 grueling mountain passes, approx 50 miles!) Almost 800 began the ride, and only approx 550 finished it. My son finished 1st in his category. Fort Lewis College Cycling team is one of the best teams in the nation! Go Skyhawks!

      Thank you for your reply.

  • Buck Robins

    Make all bike riders buy a license to ride and one to be on the road. the cost should be the same as to operate a car. These people should pay their road taxes like the rest of us do. These states and cities use road funds to build bike trails.

    • DarrylD

      Unless your city funds its roads, sidewalks and bike paths 100% with gasoline taxes and vehicle registration fees (which no city in the U.S. does), then bikers DO pay for the roads. Educate yourself on how your city’s public works department and your state’s DOT actually funds roads. Chances are, you’ll find about 1/2 of roads are paid for by usage fees (like gas taxes). The rest are paid for through the general fund or special taxes passed by referendums. In other words, 1/2 of all road construction is paid for by sales taxes, income taxes and property taxes, which are paid by everyone. So your basic premise is wrong. Plus, when you consider the damage cars do to the road, the air and safety in general, the cost is exponentially higher than that of people on bikes.

    • tmana

      http://ipayroadtax.com/
      While the site is in the UK, the sentiment — and funding methods — are the same in the US. (The differences: our motor vehicle ownership charges are not based on their carbon footprint, but their operating charges are, via gas/diesel/fuel-ethanol taxes.)

  • Phil Bowman

    I live in Boise and it is very bike friendly with a really nice greenbelt and lightly used roads just a few miles out of downtown.

  • Erica

    I’ve lived in several of these cities, and now live in New York City. In the past few years NY has invested heavily in bicycle infrastructure, and was even the inspiration for some of San Francisco’s street designs. I have to say it’s the best city I’ve lived in for biking! Lots of dedicated, protected bike lanes and fairly flat. I also agree that Washington DC has some very nice biking infrastructure.

  • DarrylD

    New Orleans is gettin there…

  • Carol McIntyre

    Las Cruces, NM has a great network of bike trails and bike lanes!

  • Jim Walters

    Not to disparage any of the cities named, but the city of Dayton in Ohio deserves to be on any such list.

  • Sid Britton

    This article is ridiculous! First of all no city in the SNOW belt or the upper Midwest can possibly be considered a great cycling city! Nice places, good people who enjoy riding I’m sure. The hard truth is 35 to 40% of the year is a NON-CYCLING period of the year. Sorry this is not ideal. The fact that Trek is headquartered in Wisconsin does not qualify it as a great place to cycle. Also plans and intentions to improve cycling facilities in a city also doesn’t qualify the city! Finally San Francisco?? Have you ever been there. Not only is it not a good cycling city it isn’t even a good walking city with those hills. And the around the bay trail … That is not San Francisco! Who wrote this absurd article?!

    • Dan

      Seems to me the article is focused more on biking infrastructure, and not how comfortable the riding is. I live in Wisconsin and ride on average 75% of the year; in college I commuted by bike every day, even in the snow. It comes down to knowing how to dress for the weather. I know the reason I clicked on the article was to see which cities I would like to visit and be able to ride my bike in a safe environment. Anybody who would travel to Madison or Minneapolis would most likely do so during late spring to fall to avoid biking in less than ideal conditions. As far as Trek is concerned, the article states Madison and Trek partnered to improve infrastructure, not that biking is great because Trek is headquartered there. Improving infrastructure means it is easier and safer for a biker to ride. There will always be problems wherever you live too hot, too cold, too hilly, too rainy; but what the city does to become more biker friendly is what counts.

  • Spellbound1016

    I live in Denver, CO and I feel it is a bike friendly city. Plenty of multi-use trails and low-traffic streets. Plus the city is expanding bike lanes throughout downtown.