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These are the top 20 cities for biking in the U.S.

Based on factors from how many people ride to how fast the bike networks are expanding, Boulder, Colorado, is the best place to commute on two wheels.

These are the top 20 cities for biking in the U.S.
[Photo: raclro/iStock]

In Boulder, Colorado, where people are around 20 times more likely to bike to work than the average American, the city has spent decades building a network of bike lanes–including multiple overpasses and underpasses that avoid intersections, and off-street bike paths–to make it easier to get anywhere on two wheels. Boulder topped a new ranking of places to bike in the U.S., followed closely by Fort Collins, Colorado. “Boulder’s history of investment in a safe, comfortable bike network is central to their success,” says Kyle Wagenschutz, director of local innovation at PeopleForBikes, the nonprofit that created the PlacesForBikes City Rating. “It’s not just that they are using designs that attract the biggest potential pool of riders, but that the network actually connects to places people want to travel to, including grocery stores, parks, and public transportation.”

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A pedestrian and bike underpass along Boulder Creek. [Photo: Flickr user itdp]
The rating is designed to help cities benchmark their progress and prioritize where to make new investments. The nonprofit also gives cities specific recommendations for improvement on each scorecard. In addition to the overall rankings, it also ranks cities based on how many people ride, how safe it is to ride, how easy it is for people to get where they need to go, how quickly the bike network is growing, and how well the bike network serves all neighborhoods in a city. Some of the leaders in these sub-categories are unexpected. Memphis and Fayetteville, Arkansas, lead in terms of acceleration of bike networks. Provincetown, Massachusetts, has the top rank for an overall network. Arlington, Virginia, and Buellton, California, lead the list for safety. “There’s an intentional choice not to showcase just the usual suspects,” says Wagenshutz. Here are the top 20 cities for biking overall, with New York City split by borough.

  1. Boulder, Colorado
  2. Fort Collins, Colorado
  3.  Eugene, Oregon
  4. Manhattan, New York
  5. Arlington, Virginia
  6. Lawrence, Kansas
  7. Brooklyn, New York
  8. Portland, Oregon
  9.  Madison, Wisconsin
  10. Minneapolis, Minnesota
  11. Bentonville, Arkansas
  12.  Santa Barbara, California
  13. Washington, D.C.
  14. Colorado Springs, Colorado
  15. Fayetteville, Arkansas
  16. Queens, New York
  17. Santa Monica, California
  18. Denver, Colorado
  19. Springdale, Arkansas
  20. Athens, Ohio

Search for your own city’s rating here.

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About the author

Adele Peters is a staff writer at Fast Company who focuses on solutions to some of the world's largest problems, from climate change to homelessness. Previously, she worked with GOOD, BioLite, and the Sustainable Products and Solutions program at UC Berkeley, and contributed to the second edition of the bestselling book "Worldchanging: A User's Guide for the 21st Century."

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