The 10 Most Bike-Friendly Cities in America

Young woman riding bike in the city
Eugenio Marongiu / Shutterstock.com

This story originally appeared on SmartAsset.

If you’re able to do so, biking can be a great way to get around. Besides the physical benefits, this mode of transportation is great for the environment and generally requires you to have less of your money set aside for commuting costs.

Some cities, though, are much better for biking than others in terms of safety, costs and accessibility. That’s why SmartAsset decided to switch gears and find out which cities are best for cyclists.

We analyzed 100 of the largest U.S. cities across the following five metrics to find the best biking cities in America:

  • Bike score. This is a measure of how suitable a city is for biking on a scale of 0 to 100. Data comes from walkscore.com.
  • Percentage of commuters who bike to work. Data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 one-year American Community Survey.
  • Bicyclist fatalities per 100,000 residents. Data comes from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Motor Vehicle Crash Data Querying and Reporting and is for the five-year period from 2014-2018. This figure is measured at the county level.
  • Miles of protected bike lanes. Data comes from PeopleForBikes.org.
  • Income after housing costs. This is the median household income minus median annual housing costs. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2018 one-year American Community Survey.

First, we ranked each city in each metric. We then found the average ranking for each city, with all but two metrics receiving an equal weight. Bike score and five-year bicyclist fatalities per 100,000 residents each received a double weight. We then used this average ranking to create our final score. The city with the best average ranking received a score of 100, and the city with the worst average ranking received a score of zero.

Here are the best cities for biking in America.

10. New York City

New York City
littlenySTOCK / Shutterstock.com

The Big Apple has the highest number of miles of protected bike lanes in the study, at more than 124 miles.

It has the ninth-best bike score (70.0) and ranks 22nd out of all 100 cities in the study for its relatively high percentage of commuters who bike to work, at 1.3%.

9. Chicago

Chicago, Illinois
f11photo / Shutterstock.com

Chicago has the third-highest bike score of the 100 cities analyzed.

Chicago also ranks fourth-best in terms of miles of protected bike lanes, with about 27 miles. That’s in part why it comes in 15th place for its relatively high percentage of commuters who bike to work.

On the negative side, though, the biker fatality rate for Cook County, where Chicago is located, is relatively high compared with other cities in our top 10.

8. Madison, Wisconsin

Madison, Wisconsin, over Lake Monona
Jay Yuan / Shutterstock.com

Madison ranks in the top 25 on three of the study metrics and ranks within the top 40 of the study on the other two.

It has the second-highest percentage of commuters who bike to work, at 4.5%, and it has the 21st-best bike score (65.1). In addition, the county where Madison is located, Dane County, has the 24th-lowest bicyclist fatality rate per 100,000 residents over the five-year period from 2014 through 2018 (0.74).

7. San Francisco

San Francisco
Maridav / Shutterstock.com

San Francisco ranks in the top six on nearly all metrics for the study (all except the bicyclist fatality metric, which is measured at the county level).

The city has the fifth-best bike score in the study, at 72.2, and the sixth-highest number of miles of protected bike lanes, at 16.69.

It also has the fourth-highest percentage of commuters who bike to work, at 4.2%, and the second-highest income after housing costs, at $87,728.

6. Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C.
Cvandyke / Shutterstock.com

Washington, D.C., has the third-highest percentage of commuters who bike to work, at 4.3%.

It has the ninth-highest miles of protected bike lanes, at almost 12 miles.

It ranks 11th-best for both bike score (69.1) and income after housing costs ($64,863).

5. Boston

Sailboats in Boston harbor.
James Kirkikis / Shutterstock.com

Boston has the sixth-best bike score — 70.5 — of the cities analyzed. It also has the 12th-highest percentage of commuters biking to work, at 2.3%.

There are 5.31 miles of protected bike lanes in Massachusetts’ capital city, the 15th-highest number across all 100 cities we studied.

4. St. Paul, Minnesota

Park in St. Paul, Minnesota
Dan Thornberg / Shutterstock.com

Minnesota’s Ramsey County, where St. Paul is located, has the seventh-fewest bicyclist fatalities over the five-year period from 2014 through 2018, at 0.36 per 100,000 residents.

The city finishes 15th-best in terms of bike score and 10th-best for its relatively high number of miles of protected bike lanes, at 9.40 miles.

3. Seattle

Seattle, Washington
Mike Peters / Shutterstock.com

Seattle is one of the most affluent cities on this list, with the seventh-highest median household income after housing costs, at $71,713.

Even if a higher median income might allow many of its residents the ability to afford a nicer car, Seattle’s still a great place to use a bicycle to get around, having the seventh-best bike score in the study.

The Emerald City also has the fifth-highest percentage of commuters biking to work, at 3.8%.

2. Minneapolis

Minneapolis bridge with bikers, runners.
James Kirkikis / Shutterstock.com

Though you’ll have to make sure you wear a few extra layers in the winter, Minneapolis is a great choice for avid bicyclists, taking the No. 2 spot in the study.

It ranks first in the bike score metric, at 83.5, according to walkscore.com data.

Minneapolis also finishes second-highest in terms of miles of protected bike lanes, with almost 42, and seventh-highest in terms of percentage of commuters who bike to work, at 3.4%.

1. Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon
photomatz / Shutterstock.com

Portland has the highest percentage in the study of commuters who bike to work, at 5.3%.

The fixie-loving locale also has the second-highest bike score overall, and the surrounding Multnomah County area has the ninth-fewest bicyclist fatalities per 100,000 residents in over the five-year period from 2014 through 2018, at 0.48.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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