You can judge a lot about cities by the effort they make to promote cycling. It’s a forward-thinking way of improving infrastructure, air quality, and general health and fitness. And, of course, it makes complete economic sense.
According to recent studies from Denmark, for every kilometer someone uses a bike, society earns a net profit of 63 cents. Whereas every kilometer driven by a car causes a loss of $1.15. So, if you are are a cycling enthusiast who is looking for a new place to live, you would be hard pressed to find somewhere better than the cities on this list. Let’s take a look at the Top Ten cities for cyclists in the United States.
- Minneapolis: The Copenhagenize Design Company Index of the most bike-friendly cities in the world is well respected. In 2015, they looked at 122 cities with a population of over 600,000 people to create a top twenty list. It isn’t great reading for the United States, to be honest, and shows how much work we need to do as a country. But, it’s hats off to Minneapolis, who came in at eighteenth – the highest ranked city in the States. That is some achievement for a city that finds itself covered in snow for a lot of the year! With over 120 miles of on-street bikeways and 90 miles of off-street lanes, it’s a great environment with a lot of options for all kinds of cyclists. Minneapolis also runs a successful bike share system, making it one of the most accessible cities for bike enthusiasts of all levels.
- San Francisco: San Francisco was ranked as the best cycling city in the States by the Alliance For Biking & Walking in 2014. And, it is still a haven for cyclists thanks to its infrastructure and enthusiastic community support. In 2009, city chiefs drew up a Bicycle Plan that intended to increase safe bicycle use. Despite its steep hills, there are plenty of events throughout the year, run by the many cycling clubs and associations in the city. San Francisco has 23 miles of streets with bike paths and 45 miles of streets with bike lanes. There are a further 132 miles of cycling routes – and there should be more on the way in the next few years.
- Portland: Portland has always taken cycling seriously. It’s still one of the best cities for biking fans to live in, thanks largely to the Portland Bicycle Plan. The city aims to ensure a quarter of all journeys within the city limits are made on a bicycle by 2030. Local government chiefs have committed to making cycling in Portland safer, easier and more efficient. And, they appear to be doing a great job. During 2014, there were no biking fatalities in the city at all – an impressive statistic in a world with so much danger on the roads.
- Boulder: Is there a more perfect spot for nature-loving cyclists than Boulder, Colorado? There are hundreds of miles of winding bicycle paths dotted around the mountain town. The stunning view of the Rockies makes for the perfect backdrop. And, of course, the weather is almost perfect for getting out and about. Boulder enjoys an incredible 300 days of sunshine every year on average. Newcomers will need to watch out for the thinner air at altitude, of course. But, with a successful bike share system and plenty of opportunities, there are few better places in the States for cyclists.
- New York: When you think of New York, it’s hard to imagine it being a nice place for cyclists. But, city chiefs take cycling seriously, and New York is home to the nation’s largest bike share program. There are also hundreds of miles of biking paths. There’s a lot of work to do, of course. But, any cyclist worth their salt will want to check out the city’s best cycle route. It runs for 11 miles from Battery Park all the way down to the southern point of Manhattan.
- Louisville: Louisville is fast becoming a hub for cycling in the south. The Louisville Loop runs for a hundred miles at present, and there are plans to extend it so that cyclists can access every point in the city. There’s a great bike-sharing program in place, too, and you would be remiss if you didn’t take a bike over the pedestrian bridge to Indiana.
- San Diego: San Diego still has some work to do when it comes to cycling – their plan to add 1,800 bikes into 180 across the city is still a work in progress. But, the natural environment means that it’s a city to watch in the future. The weather is almost always gorgeous, and the scenery is something to behold – perfect for mountain biking as well as city rides. It won’t take much for San Diego to raise its profile for cycling on a world stage – so keep your eyes peeled!
- Austin: Austin takes its cycling seriously – it even has a bike zoo. It’s another cycling hotspot of the South, with plenty of bikeways in and around the city, including the Lance Armstrong Bikeway. Although, whether that will be renamed at some point in the future, remains to be seen! There are plenty of clubs and associations around the place, including the Austin Cycling Association. Check out the Austin Bicycle Map if you are planning a cycling trip – it covers around 315 square miles of winding routes all across the city.
- Tucson: Tucson in Arizona has a lot going for it, thanks to the enormous amount of desert that surrounds the place. And, it has the largest biking infrastructure in the country, with over 700 miles of pathways, routes, and lanes. If you want stunning views and winding paths through mountains and cacti, there is no better place for it than Tucson.
- Washington DC: Completing our list is Washington DC. In a city full of monuments and memorials, there is a lot to see and do – and the quickest and healthiest way to do so is on two wheels. You can also take the route along the Pontiac River that stretches for 185 miles straight into Cumberland.
Have we missed any great American cycling cities on our list? Let us know in the comments section below!