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

Marc Lindsay
by Marc Lindsay
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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.

About the Author

Marc Lindsay
Marc Lindsay

Marc is a freelance writer based in Scottsdale, Arizona. He holds a master’s degree in writing from Portland State University and is a certified physical therapy assistant. An avid cyclist and runner of over 20 years, Marc contributes to LAVA, Competitor and Phoenix Outdoor magazines. He is the former cycling editor for Active.com.

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