The pandemic has created a cycling boom across much of the world and the U.S. is no exception. When the country locked down, millions of Americans went out and purchased bicycles, though the extent to which they could enjoy the new hobby depended largely on where they lived. That’s according to an interesting new LawnStarter analysis which ranked 200 major U.S. cities on bike-friendliness earlier this month on 18 metrics across four categories – climate, bike routes, bike shops/communities and safety.
The highest possible score for bike-friendliness was 100 with factors such as length of bike lanes, the availability of bike-sharing programs and access to repair shops pushing a location up the ranking. Even though San Francisco has hilly terrain that is challenging for cyclists, it had the highest score in the ranking, mainly due to its broad cycling community and favorable climate. Portland, Oregon and Fort Collins, Colorado, came second and third, respectively.
Eugene, Oregon and Seattle, Washington, were two more cities in the Pacific Northwest that made the top-10 and Lawnstarter notes that the region did particularly well in the safety stakes. Elsewhere, many cities’ higher investments in infrastructure saw themselves high up in the ranking, especially Washington D.C. where the share of bike commuters is rising. Others were held back from reaching their full potential by climates that tend to dissuade people from heading out on the bike.
That was a big problem in the south of the country where cities tended to score poorly, primarily as a result of difficult climates with ample hot days mixed with heavy rainfall. Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Jackson, Mississippi and Newport News, Virginia were ranked the least bicycle-friendly cities in the country in 2021.