As gas prices rise, pollution increases, and the devastating effects of our carbon footprints wreak their havoc on our planet, more and more people are ditching their cars and hopping on bicycles instead.
Driving less and riding more is an easy transition. Well, in some places. Across America, cities and small towns are building bike lanes, and implementing programs and incentives to encourage citizens to ditch their gas guzzlers. Below, we’ve highlighted 30 cities, big and small, that are taking the call to cycling seriously. Keep scrolling for the 30 most bicycle-friendly places in America.
Cycling is just easier in Alexandria, Virginia. This busy D.C. suburb offers bike-loving residents 30 miles of bike trails in addition to its many bike lanes and neighborhood bikeways. Such easy access to safe riding areas is one of the reasons to many Alexandria residents choose to cycle to school and work each day. Even those who don’t have their own bike can get in on the fun, thanks to the city’s 31-station bike share program.
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Though Ann Arbor has a population of more than 100,000 people, this Michigan locale has a small, college-town feel. This makes is an ideal place for cycling. Recently named by Livability as the #1 place to live in all of the U.S., Ann Arbor offers 80 miles of bike lanes in and around the city, plus myriad designated parking spots designed specifically for bikes. The area around the University of Michigan also has a popular, city-sponsored bike share program that makes choosing to cycle a breeze.
Austin may be “weird” and proud of it, but we know of another thing this quirky and rapidly growing city should be proud of: its bike friendliness. Austin is home to the Lance Armstrong Bikeway, a six-mile paved pathway that runs right through downtown Austin. The implementation of the Bikeway has not only made cycling enjoyable within city limits, it’s also made it easier for residents to bike to and from school and work.
Bellingham’s efforts to become one of the most bicycle-friendly places in America stems from its desire to decrease single-occupant car trips. So far, the city has managed to decrease said trips by about 8%, while simultaneously increasing pedestrian, bus, and cycling trips. Bellingham’s success in this endeavor almost certainly has to do with the 21 miles of bike lanes and 27 miles of shared pathways seen throughout the city. Additionally, the Safe Routes to School program ensures that kids are able to ride their bikes to class without fear of danger.
The population of Boise, Idaho has skyrocketed in recent years thanks to the city’s beautiful natural surroundings and laid-back local vibe — two things that also make it one of the most bicycle-friendly places in America. Volunteers teamed up to build the city’s Ridge to Rivers Trails System, a network of 130 miles of trails suitable for any skill level of cyclist. Additionally, Boise is home to the 22-mile Boise Greenway, a unique cycling trail that allows those on bikes to ride close to the city while remaining in view of those beautiful natural surroundings we mentoned. Last but not least, Boise offers citizens a full calendar of bike-friendly community events, including bike rides with local clubs and various free clinics.
If you don’t believe Boulder, Colorado to be one of the most bicycle-friendly places in America, consider this: most members of the U.S. Pro Cycling team have chosen to make their homes in this gorgeous mountain town. The reasons are simple. Not only does Boulder boast an ideal climate and terrain for cycling, it’s also implemented a number of bicycle-friendly programs. These programs include more than 300 miles of bikeways and a number of outdoor spaces. The city also organizes a number of community rides each calendar year to encourage anyone with the interest to get in on the fun.
Being both bicycle friendly and one of the biggest U.S. cities is no easy feat, but Chicago has managed to do it. Indeed, Bicycling Magazine named The Windy City as “America’s Best Bike City” for 2016. To achieve this status, Chicago has implemented a number of bike-friendly initiatives, including more than 100 miles of bike lanes, a bike-share program specifically for the city’s lowest income residents, and a weekly community ride on Monday nights. City planners are currently working on the Loop Link, a massive downtown project that will ultimately provide the central business district with a series of bike lanes and bicycle-specific traffic signals.
Imagine a town that is so bicycle friendly, its local school children experience cycling as part of their required school curriculum. That’s Corvallis, a town of about 58,000 located in central Oregon. An incredible 24% of Corvallis residents say they bike to work each day. Certainly, this has much to do with the fact that one can get just about anywhere in town in about 15 minutes Another major contributor is the success of the Corvallis Bicycle Collective. This innovative program routinely offers bike swaps, free bike repairs, bicycle-themed workshops, and other events that encourage locals to ditch the car for a bike.
College towns have always had a certain reputation for being bicycle friendly, but the city of Davis, California takes this reputation to a whole new level. A whopping 98% of Davis roads include bike lanes. This is the result of a push during the 1960s and 1970s to combat the rapid growth of Davis, Sacramento, and the surrounding areas. While efforts like this have certainly aided Davis’s reputation as a bike-friendly setting, other factors include California’s mild climate and the area’s flat roads. No wonder the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame calls Davis the “Bike Capital of America!”
As home to University of Oregon, the college town of Eugene is no stranger to bike friendliness. Still, that hasn’t stopped the city from improving on the biking infrastructure it’s boasted since the 1970s. For example, Eugene city planners are currently working to expand the wide network of bicycle lanes, and increasing their safety with buffers. A new car-less bridge is also in the works to encourage more walking and cycling to local neighborhoods and businesses. Last year, Eugene even launched its own bike-sharing program to further cement it as one of the most bicycle-friendly places in America.
Fort Collins, Colorado
Colorado appears all over our list of the most bicycle-friendly places in America, and the city of Fort Collins is no exception. Bicycles are just a part of the culture in Fort Collins. The local government offers cycling education classes, various bike share programs, and more than 200 miles of bike lanes and paved bike paths that weave through the city. Even the local businesses get in on the fun, as evidenced by the fact that Fort Collins is said to have the most bicycle-friendly businesses of any city in the country. Outside the city are dozens more bike trails with varying terrain.
Fruita is a small town located on the southwestern edge of Colorado. Thanks to its high-desert surroundings, Fruita was once the secret go-to for mountain bikers in the know. Today, its reputation as one of the most bicycle-friendly places in America is more widely known. Hundreds of trails weave their ways in and around Fruita city limits. These trails vary from meandering single tracks to grinders that are barely climbable. And don’t even get us started on the epic vistas that greet cyclists around every turn!
Like its neighbors, Chicago and Louisville, the city of Indianapolis is going to great lengths to ensure its reputation as bicycle friendly. Indy recently implemented its 250-bike Indiana Pacers Bikeshare program with great success. This bike-share program has made it easier for residents to cycle to and from work using the eight miles of paved bike paths which run right through downtown. Additionally, the city has plans to built protected bike lanes in Indy’s downtown area and beyond.
Louisville, Kentucky has prioritized bicycle friendliness in recent years, and the results have been profound. Currently, the city boasts more bike paths than ever before. These exist on the bridle paths of the city’s main parkways, along Louisville’s famous waterfront, and through its many beautiful, Olmstead-designed parks. The building of the city’s pedestrian bridge has also done wonders to encourage residents and visitors to get out of their cars and enjoy the outdoors, maybe even with a rented bike from Louisville B-Cycle, the city’s bike-sharing program. In the plans for the future is the 100-mile Louisville Loop, a paved trail system designed to connect the entire city via one big bike path.
Madison, Wisconsin as one of the most bicycle-friendly places in America? The place that gets an average of 40 inches of snow each year? Yep! According to local legend, Madison’s myriad bike paths are snowplowed more frequently than its actual roads. Maybe that’s why about 5.1% of residents choose to cycle to school and work year round, regardless of weather. And Madison sure makes it easy for those who’d rather ride on two wheels. The city boasts nearly 250 miles of bikeways, plus a number of successful bike share programs.
Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota
Granted, The Twin Cities tend to be covered in ice and snow for much of the year. Still, that hasn’t stopped Minneapolis and St. Paul from implementing a series of programs that have helped to solidify the city as one of the most bike-friendly places in America. Some of these implemented programs include the 5.7-mile Midtown Greenway, a one-time railway corridor turned bike path; the 50-mile Grand Rounds Scenic Byway; and myriad community bike rides.
Bike friendliness is nothing new to Missoula, Montana. The town of nearly 70,000 has been spearheading bike- and pedestrian-friendly initiatives for more than a quarter century. Some of Missoula’s most successful initiatives include a carless bridge which links the University of Montana campus to the main city, various bike lanes and paved pathways, bicycle detection technology at major intersections, and even bike safety lessons as part of the local school curriculum. And if you’re wondering if Missoula’s cycling success is maintained during the winter months, the answer is a resounding yes. The city employs dedicated plows just for the bike lanes.
New York City, New York
New York City has always had a handle on public transportation, including bicycles and cyclists. Citi Bike, the largest bike-sharing program in the country, is based in the city, and its more than 165,000 annual subscribers take nearly 40,000 bike rides each day! Millions of dollars have been spent in recent years to ensure that the city’s cyclists are safe. Implemented programs have included protected bike lanes, reduced speed limits for cars, and more paved pathways.
Park City, Utah
With its mountain surroundings, Park City has long attracted those who love cycling and mountain biking. These days, Park City is expanding that bicycle-culture reputation to include more of its city area, too. To encourage Park City residents to ditch their cars in lieu of bicycles, the city implemented a series of bike paths and America’s first ever fully electric bike-share program.
The City of Brotherly Love boasts an impressive bicycle network that makes it easy for Philly residents to get around on two wheels. Said network includes miles of bike paths that connect the University of Pennsylvania campus with downtown and The Boardwalk area. Meanwhile, protected bike lanes keep cyclists safe in various other parts of the city. And Philadelphia still has more to do! Plans for the future include expanding the city’s bike-share program, re-painting bike lanes, enhancing existing lanes, and even expanding the network of paved paths.
Portland has ranked as one of the most bicycle-friendly places in America since 1990 — long before cycling became the way of life it is today. The bustling city — with a population of nearly 650,000! — boasts some 300 miles of bike lanes and paths, plus a central bridge that is limited to bicycles only. Thanks to the innovative BIKETOWN program, there are more than 1,000 bicycles to rent for those who don’t already own their own. No wonder nearly 8% of people cycle to work each day! The result of all this is a carefully designed city in which one can get just about anywhere on a bike.
Salt Lake City, Utah
Salt Lake City may have a population of 200,000 (and growing!), but this Utah city has worked hard to establish itself as one of the most bicycle-friendly places in America. Cyclists in SLC need only download the Bikeways Map app to find bike parking, shared lanes, and trails both urban and mountain. This innovative app has made having a bike and riding it around town safer and more enjoyable. Salt Lake City also recently became the new home of Assos, the Swiss cycling giant.
San Diego, California
Any city that boasts scenery as beautiful, and a climate as temperate, as San Diego has no excuse not to be bike friendly. San Diego offers residents and visitors myriad locations through which to bike safely, including Balboa Park, Ocean Beach, and Coronado Island, each of which offers miles of paved pathways. To encourage those without bikes to start riding, San Diego also offers a bike-share program complete with 1,800 bikes and 180 stations located throughout the city.
San Francisco, California
A city as big and crowded as San Francisco may not seem like a likely candidate for one of the most bicycle-friendly places in America. And yet, San Francisco has gone to great lengths to ensure it is exactly that. The city initiated Vision Zero in 2014, an innovative plan that officials hope will decrease traffic-related deaths by 100% by 2024. To reach this goal, San Francisco has implemented parking-protected bicycle lanes throughout the city, free cycling classes led by the San Francisco Bicycling Coalition, and various laws meant to protect cyclists’ right to share the road safely.
Santa Monica, California
Bikes and beaches go hand-in-hand, right? At least, that seems to be the case in Santa Monica, a beachy suburb of Los Angeles. Here, bicycles are common sightings along the pedestrian pathway. Locals and tourists alike enjoy biking the 22-mile beachfront path, plus the many paved bike lanes that meander through the city itself. Didn’t bring your bike with you to Southern California? That’s okay — you can simply rent one from the famous Santa Monica Pier.
Scottsdale, Arizona is so bicycle-friendly the League of American Cyclists awarded it a rare Gold Level City designation. Scottsdale’s already-extensive network of bike paths seems to be growing constantly, and already connects various Scottsdale neighborhoods and even some other communities. Local schools, too, are getting in on the fun by including cycling as part of the curriculum and encouraging community-wide bicycle safety and awareness.
Washington is ranked by the League of American Bicyclists as the most bicycle-friendly state in the nation. Much of this has to do with the efforts of Seattle to establish what has practically become a bicycle culture. The city implemented a number of community-wide programs meant to get people out of their cars and on bikes. These programs include the Cascade Bicycle Club, which boasts upwards of 15,000 members; Bike Works Seattle, a youth-empowerment program; and a dock-less bicycle-share program. There are even “cycle cafés” located throughout the city.
There is a good reason so many pro cyclists choose to make Tucson, Arizona their winter home base. This Southwestern city is one of the most bicycle-friendly places in America! Tucson is home to The Loop, a 131-mile circular network of paved roads and bike trails that’s popular amongst cyclists both professional and amateur. The Loop includes various access points to local attractions, or for those interested, mountain bike trails. There’s even a The Loop Bicycle Shop cafe that offers both coffee and bike repairs.
Washington, D.C. may be known for its complete and utter gridlock, but fortunately, the capital is going to great lengths to alleviate some of that gridlock (well, at least the traffic kind) by implementing a series of bike-friendly programs. D.C. was the first major city to take on a bicycle-sharing program. Today, Capital Bikeshare offers more than 1,800 bikes to residents and visitors located all over the city. The city has also installed a series of bike lanes and paved pathways, including the 185-mile long C&O Canal trail, which meanders throughout D.C., along the Potomac, and even goes as far as Cumberland, Maryland.
Wausau, Wisconsin was recently ranked by People for Bikes as the best small city for cyclists. With a population of about 40,000 people, Wausau is home to the massive Sylvan Hill Mountain Bike Part, a community-run playground for cyclists of all skill levels. The park includes trails or varying terrain, downhill slopes, newbie-friendly paved routes, and even some spots especially designed for twists and jumps.