Best Cities for Biking to Work
Biking is growing in popularity as a means of commuting to work. From 1990 to 2009, the number of bike commuters increased by 64 percent. In some cities, it's the most efficient and timely travel option. Biking also offers the exercise benefits and is a more sustainable commute option for the environment.
If you're thinking about biking to work, there's a few gear essentials you'll want to consider. Otherwise it's pretty simple to get started, particularly if you live in a bike-friendly city. Curious if your city made the list? Read on below.
In order to rank cities on their conditions for biking to work we looked at three major factors:
- BikeScore: This score is created by Walkscore.com and evaluates the infrastructure, terrain, and biking community. Data provided by Walkscore.com
- Pedestrian Traffic Fatality Rate: Many cities invest in biking infrastructure to keep pedestrians and bikers safe. When surveyed, 46 percent of respondents said they would be more likely to ride a bike if they had access to a lane physically separated from traffic. Data provided by Pedestrian Traffic Fatalities by State - Governors Highway Safety
- Percent of working populations already biking to work: While safety and infrastructure are important elements of biking, looking at the rate at which consumers are actually biking to work tells the real story for the city. Data provided by Census/ACS - Modes Less Traveled—Bicycling and Walking to Work in the United States: 2008–2012
1. Portland, Oregon
Portland is essentially the bike capital of America and the numbers show it. It boasts the highest percentage of workers commuting by bike at over 6 percent as well as the highest BikeScore of any large city. The city has invested heavily in infrastructure to make biking easy and safe. Portland offers extensive dedicated cycling lanes, bike bridges across the Willamette River, storage and a bike sharing program offering over 1,000 bikes throughout the city.
2. Boston, Massachusetts
Although Boston doesn’t see a high percentage of its commuters traveling by bike, the conditions for biking to work or in the city are excellent. With a BikeScore of 70 and one of the lowest pedestrian traffic fatality rates of large cities at .8 per 100K residents, Bostonians should take more advantage of biking to work. The city of Boston does a great job promoting the city's bike friendliness by hosting events and group rides as well as instruction on riding safely in the city.
3. Seattle, Washington
Seattle is a popular place to bike to work with 3.4% of its population already doing so. That makes it the second highest among the 50 largest cities in the USA. Commuters also benefit from a low pedestrian traffic fatality rate. Seattle has numerous dedicated bike lanes and nearly all popular biking roads are clearly marked with sharrows to make lanes clear to bikers and drivers alike. Seattle is so invested in supporting biking it has created a program to allow business to register as bike-friendly, meaning they make it easy for customers to ride and store their bikes while shopping or eating.
4. Denver, Colorado
Right at the base of the Rockies, Denver is an amazing city for many reasons, biking being one of them. Whether you’re commuting to work or out in the mountains Denver is a place for a cyclist. There is an extensive network of bike lanes and trails that allow you to get in and out of the city. If you live anywhere southeast of downtown or near Cherry Creek State Park you can hop on the Cherry Creek Trail and easily get in and out of downtown. Denver public transportation enables biking as well allowing you to bring bikes on buses and trains. When you reach the office you’re likely to be close to one of Denver’s 20 bike locker locations. Many locations have up to 200 spots available.
5. Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C. is an excellent place to commute by bike. Throughout the city, there are 9 dedicated walking and biking paths spidering throughout the D.C. metro area. Many of these paths are away from traffic, paved and very well maintained. There are also in-depth resources available tailored to commuters showing recommended routes to get in and out of D.C. If you’re considering biking to work, read our how-to. It’s a quick read and will help you figure out if biking to work is right for you. Also, if you're thinking about buying a city bike, read our top 10 list for 2019.