What makes a city bike friendly? Safely marked bike lanes, sprawling green paths, moderate weather, are all musts, but it takes more than just a trendy bikeshare program to make us get on two wheels. A truly bike friendly city fosters a biking culture that inspires residents to get out and ride. Whether you choose to ride because it’s a cleaner mode of transport, a way to stay fit or just the cheaper transportation alternative, bike friendly cities cheer you on and keep you safe.
Sadly most cities in the U.S. are still designed around a car-centered infrastructure, relegating bike riders to the dangerous sidewalks or edges of traffic. If this sounds familiar and riding your bike to work feels like an uphill battle everyday, consider the following bike friendly cities as a possible safe haven for your biking needs. In celebration of Bike Month, we’ve searched for the top five biking cities that have appeared on both Redfin’s Bike Score Ranking of Large U.S. Cities and Bicycling.com’s 50 Best. Here is a roundup of five of the most bike friendly cities to get moving to.
1. Chicago, Il
Despite its harsh winters, with more than 200 miles of on-street protected and shared bike lanes Chicago is very bike friendly city. Consider the 13,000 bike racks and sheltered bike parking areas in and around Chicago Transit hubs that also make it easy to sync with public transport. The downtown network of protected bike lanes within The Loop, is the largest downtown bike area in a major U.S. city. Chicago also has the nation’s second largest bike share system called the Divvy, which now also offers subsidized bikeshare memberships for low-income residents. Deep dish pizza and a low cost bike share program! Moving to Chicago never sounded better.
2. San Francisco, CA
Sure those hills are killer, but with many added miles of new safe paths and high quality cycling facilities, San Francisco is becoming a great bike city. Recently the city installed 800 new bike racks and started many new projects that will connect main streets to major transit hubs through safely marked bike lanes. The Bay Area Bike Share has also recently expanded and now has a bike share network of 4,500 bikes in the city and more than 7,000 throughout the region. Don’t forget, San Francisco is also a short distance to many state parks such as Angel Island that can be accessed by bike.
3. Portland, OR
When riding your bike is the faster way to get downtown, that’s when you know you are in a bike friendly city. Portland has done just that. By designating bike boulevards throughout the city, Portland has made bike commuting into the downtown core faster, easier, safer and more efficient. According to census data, Portland has one of the heaviest volumes of bike commuters in the country.
With special bridges like the Tilikum Crossing, a bridge for busses, trains, cyclists and pedestrians, not having a car becomes an advantage. Portland has boasts an expanding Biketown Bike Share System that will double to 1,000 bikes in the coming years.
4. Austin, TX
Imagine riding alongside a peaceful tree lined creek on your commute home from work. This is a reality for residents of Austin. Take for example the bike-pedestrian bridge that cross the 800 acres of the Barton Creek Greenbelt and gives locals a safe and pleasant route through some beautiful scenery. With a variety of protected bike trails, connecting low income housing, urban farms, schools, parks and downtown, it’s no wonder more and more cyclists are moving to Austin.
5. Minneapolis, MN
Minneapolis is surprisingly a bike friendly city. Since the transformation of abandoned railways into an expansive bike path that takes riders throughout the city and downtown, this industrial city embraced a green way of getting around. A unique feature is a city-run “safe routes” schools program that provides safe commutes to high schools and encourages younger generations to join the bike riding movement. Minneapolis also has a bike share system called Nice Ride and connects residents with forty miles of bike lanes through quiet neighborhood streets.
These cities are taking the lead to make bike riding a real form of commuting. Whether you are looking for the right bike friendly city for you or wishing your city made some changes, these models are inspiration for us all. Grab your bike and hit the trails, you might find a new way to get moving. What is your favorite bike friendly city? Leave your comments below!