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These Are America’s Best Cities For Cycling (If You Forget About The Weather)

Turns out that a lot of cities you might not want to bike in for many months a year are making biking as easy as possible.

If your city is a good place for cycling, it likely has plenty of bike lanes, not too many hills, allows cyclists to get to destinations without leaving the saddle, and has higher rates of commuting-by-bike (because the more people who cycle to work, the safer roads become). Or, at least, those are the criteria that Walk Score uses for its ranking of most cycling-friendly cities in America.

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Among bigger cities, Minneapolis scores highest, followed by San Francisco, Portland (Oregon), Denver, and Boston. These cities all received at least 70 points out of 100 across the four criteria, with Minneapolis way out ahead. It got 81.3 points–six more than San Francisco–even though, in fairness, it’s a very cold place to cycle during the winter (weather didn’t figure in the ranking).

Minneapolis, MNFlickr user Thirteen Of Clubs

Walk Score, which is now part of the Redfin real estate company, ranks a total of 154 cities. Among places of all sizes, Cambridge, Massachusetts, comes out highest, with a biking nirvana-like score of 92.8 points (again no allowance for its recent brutal winter, though). It’s followed by Davis and Berkeley, in California, and Boulder, in Colorado, which gets 86.2 points (also pretty snowy). Minneapolis ranks seventh across all cities.

At the other end, many of the worst performing cities are in the South. Birmingham, Alabama is in last place (28.6 points), with Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Harker Heights, Texas, not much better. Those places’ low commuting rates are not surprising: they haven’t invested in bike lanes and destination-continuity nearly as much as the nation’s leading cities.

The top 20 cities saw an average increase of two points compared with their 2013 scores. And some have improved much more than that. For example, Chicago, which now ranks in 25th place overall with 70.2 points, has seen its numbers rise by almost nine points. Walk Score attributes that mainly to improved bike infrastructure, including the Divvy bike share scheme and a string of new bike lanes.

See the full rankings here.

About the author

Ben Schiller is a New York staff writer for Fast Company. Previously, he edited a European management magazine and was a reporter in San Francisco, Prague, and Brussels.

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