The 8 Most Bike Friendly Cities in America
1. Chicago, Illinois
Chicago is well known for its commitment to developing protected bike lanes within city limits. Currently, it has over 200 miles, yes miles, of on-street buffered and protected shared bike lanes. By the year 2020, the city hopes to increase that number to 645 city-wide, which would officially make it the most biker-friendly city in America.
The inception of Divvy, the bike-sharing company that has 3,000 bikes and 300 stations around the city, is a game changer when it comes to encouraging non-riders to join in. Not to mention, Mayor Ram Emanuel aims to protect cyclists with laws like increasing the fine for dooring a bike rider to $1,000. Pair all that with the 18.5-mile Lakefront path along Lake Michigan, and Chicago has a pretty solid case for winning over the hearts of cyclists nationwide. Check out some of Chicago’s bike maps and start planning your trip.
2. Boulder, Colorado
With over 300 days of sunshine a year and 300 miles of dedicated bikeways, Boulder seems like a cyclist’s utopia. None of this was an accident of course, as careful and considerate city planning was necessary to construct the city’s on-street bike lanes, contra-flow bike lanes, paved shoulders, multi-use paths, and soft-surface paths.
For a nice east-west ride that runs along Boulder Creek, take the 7-mile Boulder Creek Path east into Boulder town or west in Boulder Canyon. Nature enthusiasts needn’t fret: Ride the beginner mountain biking Heil Valley Ranch trail just north of Boulder within Lefthand Canyon.
Need to rent a ride? University Bicycles (839 Pearl Street) in town rents bikes by the half and full day and includes helmets and a lock. Visit here for a comprehensive biking map of Boulder.
3. Jackson Hole, Wyoming
There’s hardly a more idyllic setting than Jackson Hole, Wyoming to explore and pedal some serious miles. Based in a valley close to Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, Jackson has over 56 miles of paved pathways and 115 miles of mountain bike paths.
Bikers can start behind the post office in Jackson town on The Jackson Hole Community Pathway that links nearby Wilson, Teton Village, and Grand Teton National Park. Riders can also take a spin “Around the Block,” — a 100-mile journey west over Teton Pass, south on Pine Creek Pass, and back north through the Snake River Canyon.
Some of the best trails in the country are here, including Snow King’s “Cache to Game” — a cycle up Cache Creek and onto Game Creek Trail that makes for an unforgettable 20-mile loop finishing in town. The new Jackson Hole Bike Park in Teton Village is the valley’s only bike lift; from the top, passengers get to choose from 6 different downhill paths of varying difficulty levels.
Maps and additional information can be found on the Friends of Pathways Jackson Hole website.
4. Bellingham, Washington
Whether you want to mountain bike, pedal through town, or flock to an annual biking event, Bellingham, Washington has you covered with its mix of cycling options. The city of Bellingham itself is hailed for having many streets which are safe for bikers and even publishes a biking map outlining routes with wide shoulders and low traffic. Plenty of trails like the Cornwall Park Trail, Northlake Whatcom Park “Hertz” Trail, and Lake Padden single-track trail are all within city limits.
Rentals are available through Jack’s Bicycle Center (1907 Iowa Street), Fairhaven Bike and Ski (1108 11th Street) and Paddle and Pedal in Birch Bay. The Tour de Whatcom attracts 1,000 visitors every summer and offers riders a choice of 3 routes ranging in distance around the county. There’s also Bellingham’s Festival 542, a 24.5 mile ride with a 4,300 elevation gain on Mount Baker Highway 542.
5. Minneapolis, Minnesota
There’s a good reason why the League of American Bicyclists awarded Minneapolis with the Gold Level Bicycle Friendly Community Award. This city proves that biking isn’t just for fun, but an alternative to commuting to work while cutting down on traffic congestion and parking woes. Midtown Greenway serves as a 5.5 mile east-west city-crossing path that’s free of traffic and makes cross-town trips fast and easy.
America’s first bicycle freeway, Cedar Lake Trail, runs 5.4 miles from downtown Minneapolis and has three lanes of traffic: two one-ways for cyclists and a lane for pedestrians. A place where bike couriers still thrive and subzero temperatures don’t deter hardcore cyclists surely deserves accolades.
6. Portland, Oregon
In Portland, over 7 percent of people commute to work on their bikes — that’s the highest rank of any US city.
The city’s lined with 315 miles of bikeways, plays host to a dizzying amount of biking events, and even inspired some residents to start up BikePortland.org — a daily news source for all things bicycle-related. Some popular rides include a cruise along the Eastbank Esplanade, a 1.5-mile corridor along the Willamette River, the Springwater Corridor that ultimately leads south to Mount Hood National Forest, and Forest Park which highlights Northwest Portland’s old-timber growth.
7. Washington D.C.
The nation’s capital is setting a precedent for the United States to become more bike-friendly by becoming so itself. Separated bike lanes, the installation of 1,600 bike racks, and the inception of a bike share system (Capital Bikeshare) have all helped Washington’s D.C.’s case.
The surrounding areas of Arlington, Virginia, and Montgomery County, Maryland aren’t excluded with their vast systems of off and on-street biking trails. People can pedal their way around the Jefferson Memorial, and trek down Pennsylvania Avenue to see the White House and Capitol Hill.
For the full experience, take the Great Washington Bicycle Loop Ride around downtown and the surrounding suburbs.
8. San Francisco, California
Some say it’s the mild weather and others the availability (or lack thereof) of parking, but biking in San Francisco has definitely grown in popularity in recent years. Many of the bike paths are located on the west side of the city, and the bike lanes give your quads a break as most of them go through the flatter parts of town.
Riding across the Golden Gate Bridge is a must: Start at Fort Mason, and from there make the 7-mile journey to view the iconic and dreamy city scape. For lovers of hustle and bustle, a trip in the bike lane through Valencia Street allows you to take in all the hubbub of nearby shops and restaurants. Bike parking stalls, quirky biking events (New Belgium’s sponsored Tour de Fat, no doubt an exercise in whimsy) and a detailed bike route map round out San Francisco’s cycling appeal.