Which are the best cities for bicycling?

Bicycling Magazine tries to answer this question every couple of years. Their 2001 rankings are split into three different size categories; with the smallest city population included being 200,000 people. This obviously excludes many smaller cities with high-quality bicycling environments like Davis, CA, Gainesville, FL, Chico, CA, Santa Barbara, CA, and Corvallis, OR.

Another source for bicycle-friendly cities is the League of American Bicyclists. They formally recognize "Bicycle Friendly Communities" and assign Bronze to Platinum ratings based on the "Five Es": Engineering, Education, Encouragement, Enforcement, and Evaluation. Currently Davis, CA, is the only community rated as platinum, and only the following seven communities are rated as gold:

  • Tucson, AZ
  • Palo Alto, CA
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Boulder, CO
  • Corvallis, OR
  • Portland, OR
  • Madison, WI

Another indication of bike-friendliness is the number of people riding. US Census Bureau keeps track of how people get to work. Unfortunately, bicycle, motorcycle, or taxicab, are all included in the same category, and data for many smaller and medium-sized urban areas is not available. Despite those caveats, the 25 urban areas in the US with the highest percentage of journeys to work in this category reported in the 2005 American Community Survey are listed below.

RankUrban AreaTotal CommutersCommuters
Using Bicycles, Etc.
Percent of
Bicycle, Etc. Commuters
1Boulder, CO 55,421 4,068 7.3
2Eugene, OR 106,191 7,441 7.0
3Santa Cruz, CA 77,054 4,245 5.5
4Santa Barbara, CA 92,102 4,878 5.3
5Iowa City, IA 48,094 2,363 4.9
6Champaign, IL 58,105 2,758 4.7
7Fort Collins, CO 114,875 4,687 4.1
8Madison, WI 182,716 6,843 3.7
9Poughkeepsie--Newburgh, NY 156,983 5,680 3.6
10San Juan, PR 727,962 24,481 3.4
11Anchorage, AK 108,147 3,334 3.1
12Medford, OR 63,890 1,895 3.0
13El Paso, TX--NM 248,9807,291 2.9
14Burlington, VT 54,066 1,569 2.9
15Boise City, ID 148,0504,157 2.8
16Antioch, CA 103,337 2,878 2.8
17Atlantic City, NJ 105,573 2,796 2.6
18Tucson, AZ 344,487 9,115 2.6
19Honolulu, HI 339,161 8,951 2.6
20Bremerton, WA 80,916 2,091 2.6
21San Francisco--Oakland, CA 1,479,42837,903 2.6
22Hagerstown, MD--WV--PA 59,3161,4992.5
23South Bend, IN--MI 119,2582,976 2.5
24Tampa--St. Petersburg, FL 986,84624,5282.5
25Bonita Springs--Naples, FL 107,9472,6762.5

Read more about what makes a bicycle-friendly community. There are also tools available to help you rate the bicycle-friendliness of your community. The Bikability Checklist provides an easy-to-use form to fill out as take a ride around your neighborhood.