People want to live in active communities that are walkable, bikeable, and playable. When people live in communities that are designed to move, they experience resulting economic, social, health, safety, and environmental benefits. Many cities across the US are realizing the numerous benefits of becoming more bike-friendly, but some are clearly leading the pack.
The cycling experts at Bicycle.com recently compiled a list of the most bike-friendly cities in the U.S., using transportation data and interviews with experts, advocates, and every-day cyclists to create their list.
Here are some of the clear winners in the race to become America’s most bike-friendly city.
After building 100-miles of protected bike lanes in Chicago, the Windy City promised to deliver on another 50-miles of bikeways by 2017. According to Bicycle.com, Chicago is on track to be the first major US city with a downtown network of protected bike lanes.
Chicago’s official bike share program, Divvy, has been a smashing success and is making transportation by bike more affordable and accessible for everyone. Divvy has more than 5800 bikes available at more than 580 stations and has logged more than 10 million rides.
#2. San Francisco
San Francisco’s bike share program is one to emulate. An expansion to the Bay Area Bike Share program begins spring of 2017 and is increasing the number of bikes by tenfold, from 700 to over 7,000 and placing bike stations every few block in San Francisco, by 2018.
San Francisco’s commitment to its bike share program and creating safer streets is paying off. The number of people commuting by bike in San Francisco increased 16% between 2012 and 2014.
Portland has more than 350 miles of bikeways on the ground with more planned for upcoming years. Portland has one of the highest percentages of bike commuters for a large American city with 7.2% of commuters on bikes. That’s an estimated 17,000 Portland commuters riding to work each day. All of these cycling commuters means a heavy demand for bike parking, and Portland has met that demand with 6,500 publically-installed bike racks.
Portland’s Tilikum Crossing bridge is the largest car-free bridge in America. The bridge connects cyclists, pedestrians, and buses and streetcars with transportation centers and 319-miles of bikeways throughout the city.
#4. New York
New York has seen an 83% increase of ridership between 2010 and 2014, due in part to the city’s dedication to safety initiatives. Over $100 million has been committed to the redevelopment and installation of protected bike lanes and more than 50 miles of bike lanes (15 protected) are currently planned.
The New York Department of Health estimates that more than 500,000 adults use a bike at least once a month in New York and 200,000 cycle the city every day. The city has continually seen double-digit growth in bike ridership year over year as it commits to making streets safer for cyclists.
Seattle is tackling the issues of future growth and density by investing in their bicycle culture. Seattle’s master bike plan is focused on increasing ridership, improving safety, creating a high-quality bicycle network to connect riders throughout the city. Over the past four years, Seattle has invested $36 million in bicycle improvements guided by the plan.
Of the 17 Washington communities acknowledged for being bike-friendly, Seattle alone earned a gold ranking. Washington state has proven their commitment to expanding bike friendly communities, being named the #1 most bike-friendly state for eight years in a row by the Bike Friendly America program. While Seattle has a bit more work to do to reach platinum status, it’s clear that the city is pedaling towards a bike powered future.
How Does Sacramento Rank as a Bike-Friendly City?
Sacramento is one of six California cities that earned a spot on Bicycle.com’s list of the 50 most bike friendly, earning the #37 spot. The 32 miles of Sacramento’s American River Trailway that takes cyclists from downtown Sacramento to Folsom is one big reason that Sacramento made the list, but there’s plenty of room for improvement. Sacramento’s flat topography and temperate year-round climate present ideal conditions for bicycling as a primary mode of transportation.
Sacramento has set an ambitious goal to become the most liveable city in America with its 2035 General Plan. To achieve this goal, a bicycle master plan has been put in place.
The goals of Sacramento’s bicycle master plan include:
- Increasing ridership to reach 7% bicycle commuting by 2020
- Increasing bicycle safety and eliminating bicyclist fatalities
- Increasing connectivity by doubling the percentage of residents with convenient access to a bike network by 2025
- Increasing equitable investments in bicycle facilities and programs for all neighborhoods by 2020
Sacramento currently has 316 miles of on-street bikeways, most of which are striped bike lanes, with 148 additional miles planned to bring the total to 464 miles of bikeway. Sacramento has 88 miles of existing off-street bikeways, most of which are paved bike paths, with 120 more planned for a total of 208 miles of off-street paths.
Sacramento is developing its first major separated, protected bikeway on North 12th Street in the River District.
As Sacramento looks to the future of planning and development, focusing on making California’s Capital City one of America’s most bike-friendly cities will be integral to its success. There’s still a lot of road to pave, but a more active and cycle-centric city could define the future of Sacramento.