If you’re among the 50% of the U.S. population planning to ride a bicycle more post-pandemic, you’ll want to know the Best Biking Cities in America.
To mark World Bicycle Day on June 3, LawnStarter ranked the 200 biggest U.S. cities based on 18 key indicators of a bike-friendly lifestyle.
Among the factors we looked at are the length of bike lanes, the share of workers who bike to work, and access to bike stores and repair shops. We also considered the air quality, weather, and availability of biking clubs in each city.
Check out the 10 best (and worst) cities for two-wheelers below, followed by some highlights and lowlights from our report.
2021’s Best Biking Cities in America
1 San Francisco, CA
2 Portland, OR
3 Fort Collins, CO
4 Eugene, OR
5 Minneapolis, MN
6 Seattle, WA
7 Washington, DC
8 Salt Lake City, UT
9 Boise, ID
10 Boston, MA
2021’s Worst Biking Cities in America
191 Shreveport, LA
192 Murfreesboro, TN
193 Jacksonville, FL
194 Mesquite, TX
195 Chesapeake, VA
196 Montgomery, AL
197 Mobile, AL
198 Newport News, VA
199 Jackson, MS
200 Baton Rouge, LA
Highlights and Lowlights:
West Coasting to a Win: When it comes to finding a nice place to bike, pedal toward the sunset. Cities from all over the Western U.S. dominate the top of our ranking. We start on the Pacific Coast in San Francisco, our No. 1 biking city, up through Oregon — Eugene at No. 4 and Portland at No. 2 — and continue north to Seattle at No. 6. We then head inland toward Boise, Idaho, in ninth place and back down to Salt Lake City in eighth.
While these cities ride well across most categories, the Pacific Northwest especially sets itself apart in safety. Oregon and Washington cities claim four of the top 10 slots in this category. Feel free to cruise the streets of Portland — our safest city — without putting yourself in harm’s way (just follow the traffic rules).
A Mixed Bicycle Bag (Lanes, Yes; Climate, No): Many big cities have invested in biking infrastructure that’s reflected in our ranking. Washington, D.C., for example, has the fourth highest share of bike commuters and the second best bike score in the country. Boston is No. 5 in safety, while New York City ranks fourth in bike-trail access.
It’s climate that has our ranking pulling the brakes on these cities: New York City lands at 176 in precipitation and 138 in the number of very cold days (a bad combo if you’re outside in bike shorts). Boston has similar weather problems. While Washington has somewhat fewer very cold days, there are plenty of hot days, as well.
If commuters are deciding whether to strap on a helmet and pedal through the elements, it turns out the weather matters, which keeps these otherwise great biking cities from riding high on our list.
Uneasy Riders in the South: It’s no surprise that Southern cities tend to find themselves at the bottom of our ranking. Biking requires a lot of outdoor time, which isn’t as easy in a place like Montgomery, Alabama, with an average of 85 very hot days in a year and a whopping 53 inches of monthly rain. Warm and wet don’t mix well with cycling.
It also makes sense that many of these same Southern cities — such as Jackson, Mississippi, or Shreveport, Louisiana — have few bike trails and bike commuters. Why invest in the infrastructure if the weather’s not good for biking? But don’t let that stop you. If you really love cycling enough to hit that wet pavement when the air is thick as soup, ride on.