Where can you best get around on two wheels instead of four?
To mark World Bicycle Day on June 3, LawnStarter ranked 2023’s Best Biking Cities in the U.S.
We compared the 200 biggest U.S. cities based on 27 key indicators of a cyclist-friendly lifestyle, such as access to bike trails and bike rentals, the share of bike commuters, the presence of cycling clubs, and the number of bike races and tours.
Cycle through the most bike-friendly cities in our ranking below. To learn how we ranked the cities, see our methodology.
City Rankings + Infographic
See how each city fared in our ranking:
Top 5 Close Up
Check out the slideshow below for highlights and lowlights on each of our top five cities.
Coastal cities pedal to the top — including San Francisco (No. 1), New York (No. 2), and Portland, Oregon (No. 3) — with great access to high-quality trails and bustling biking communities. Biking continues to boom across the nation: Out of the 200 cities in our ranking, 84 offer a bike-sharing program, and 35 have a Vision Zero program protecting cyclists.
Several Southern cities swerve to the bottom of our ranking with low scores across the board — such as Killeen, Texas (No. 197), and Mobile, Alabama (No. 199), alongside Jackson, Mississippi, in last place. Aside from the sweltering climates, these cities lack access to safe and high-quality cycling infrastructure.
- Tour de San Francisco: Hilly San Francisco spins into first place with the top biking Access and Ride Quality. SF offers the most bike repair and supply shops, as well as the most bike rental facilities, per square mile. An ideal cycling climate, a high Bike Score, and the second-highest number of top-rated bike trails also helped The Golden City glide to the top.
- Car-Free Commutes: Northern cities like Portland, Oregon (No. 3), Minneapolis (No. 10), and Madison, Wisconsin (No. 11), cycle up impressive bike infrastructure. Minneapolis and Portland tie for the top Bike Score, while all three cities share first place for the most Bicycle Friendly America Awards. Madison and Portland also take second place in share of bike commuters, behind Fort Collins, Colorado (No. 18).
- Centennial Community: Cyclist citizens thrive in Fort Collins, Colorado (No. 18), taking second place in Community, behind New York (No. 2). Fort Collins has the second-highest number of bike-friendly businesses, behind Tampa, Florida (No. 26). Cycling companions are also abundant in Colorado Springs, Colorado (No. 34), which boasts the most bicycling clubs.
- Texas Trails: It’s easy to relax with a ride in Lone Star cities San Antonio (No. 16), Austin (No. 24), and Houston (No. 27). San Antonio has the most top-rated bike trails, thanks to more than 100 miles of multi-use trails along the city’s greenway system. Houston has the most bike trails, followed by Portland, Oregon (No. 3), and San Antonio. Austin boasts the most Bicycle Friendly America Awards out of the Texas cities.
- Spokes on Safety: Road cycling can be dangerous, leading to around 1,000 deaths and over 130,000 injuries annually. New Orleans (No. 88) skids to the bottom of the Safety rank, with one of the highest rates of both cycling-related fatalities and bike thefts. Meanwhile, Alexandria, Virginia (No. 28), boasts the highest overall Safety score, followed by Richmond, Virginia (No. 42).
- Scenic Spins: While there aren’t many bike commuters in Chattanooga, Tennessee (No. 55), the Scenic City is great for mountain biking and hosts the most cycling races and events. Propel through the picturesque Boise River Greenbelt in Boise, Idaho (No. 32), which claims the highest average consumer rating for bike trails in our ranking.
- Making the Wheels Go Round: Out of all 50 states, Massachusetts cruises ahead with the most bike-friendly legislation. From the state’s Shared Streets and Spaces Grant Program to the Complete Streets Funding Program to its Bicycle Transportation Plan, the Bay State is committed to improving bikeability.
Ask The Experts
We turned to a panel of cycling experts for biking insights and tips for first-timers. See what they had to say below.
- What are the top three benefits of cycling?
- What are your three best tips for first-time cyclists?
1. What are the top three benefits of cycling?
- Cycling is a great form of exercise because it improves the cardiorespiratory system, which is important because heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in the U.S.
- If cycling is done on hilly terrains, there is even greater stress to the muscular system than on flatter terrains, which is important for maintaining strength.
- Cycling is also an excellent choice for individuals who need to do low-impact exercise due to joint problems, such as arthritis.
2. What are your three best tips for first-time cyclists?
My best advice about cycling is to first find a bike that fits your body and the type of surfaces you will most likely be riding on. Bicycles vary greatly with the construction of the frame, the type of tires, and the components (gears, brakes, etc).
While your local bicycle shop is your best resource, there are articles online about how to get a general idea of what frame size you need and how to choose the type of bike that will be best for your riding conditions.
Second, find people to ride with. It is not only safer, but you also can learn about cycling a lot faster, including basic bicycle maintenance. Many bicycle shops have group rides for people of varying abilities.
Third, invest in proper cycling shorts. You will be a lot more comfortable and enjoy your rides much more.
1. What are the top three benefits of cycling?
- Cycling is a great way to increase your physical activity, which has numerous physical and mental health benefits.
- Cycling is a low-impact exercise. It is a great option for health benefits while reducing impact-related stress on knees, ankles, hips, and lower back.
- Cycling is the most efficient form of locomotion, meaning that it requires less energy per kilometer than any other type of human-powered movement. This can expand your “playground” to allow you to explore a much greater area. While it may take five to seven hours to cover 20 miles while hiking, you can cover that same distance on a bicycle in one to two hours.
2. What are your three best tips for first-time cyclists?
- Invest in a good pair of cycling shorts and a new helmet. Cycling shorts with padding will help reduce some of the soreness that will inevitably occur after you spend an extended amount of time on your new bicycle saddle. Don’t worry if the skin-tight lycra look isn’t for you — there are lots of options of shorts with a padded liner that look like “regular” shorts. The helmet doesn’t need to be expensive, but it needs to have a Consumer Products Safety Committee (CPSC) sticker. Purchasing a new helmet will ensure that the protective components have not been damaged due to a previous accident or from an accidental drop.
- Learn how to change a bicycle tire. A flat tire 10 miles from home can turn a morning bike ride into a long walk home. Check with your local bike shop or sporting goods store to see if they offer classes on basic bicycle maintenance.
- Keep it fun! Incorporate cycling into family activities, visit a new park or trail, or ask a friend to join you on a bike ride. We are less likely to continue an activity if we do not enjoy it. If it starts to become a chore, slow down or shorten the ride. You will still get many health benefits with a 10- to 20-minute bike ride.
First, we determined the factors (metrics) that are most relevant to rank the Best Biking Cities in the U.S. We then assigned a weight to each factor based on its importance and grouped those factors into six categories: Access, Ride Quality, Safety, Climate, Community, and Events. The categories, factors, and their weights are listed in the table below.
For each of the 200 biggest U.S. cities, we then gathered data on each factor from the sources listed below the table.
Finally, we calculated scores (out of 100 points) for each city to determine its rank in each factor, each category, and overall. A city’s Overall Score is the average of its scores across all factors and categories. The highest Overall Score ranked “Best” (No. 1) and the lowest “Worst” (No. 200). Note: The “Worst” among individual factors may not be No. 200 due to ties.
Sources: AllTrails, Bikeshare.com, Bike Index, The League of American Bicyclists, Meetup, National Center for Disaster Preparedness, National Centers for Environmental Information, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, TRIP, U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, USA Cycling, Vision Zero Network, Walk Score, World Naked Bike Ride, and Yelp
Biking is good for your health, the environment, and your wallet. Unfortunately, it’s not safe or easy to do in car-dependent cities.
Thankfully, from car-free streets to prioritizing bike networks, cities across the nation are starting to invest more in bike-friendly infrastructure.
Learn about more beloved biking destinations below, including some cities that were too small to be included in our ranking.
- Atlanta (No. 21) has transformed 22 miles of railroad tracks into the BeltLine, a trail system circling through the city. Catch the public art installations as you cruise through, or take a guided bike tour.
- Make sure to put on your helmet before hitting the trails in Bentonville, Arkansas, aka the Mountain Biking Capital of the World. The city offers over 28 miles of fun mountain biking options for both beginners and experienced riders.
- Chicago (No. 8) is in the process of creating a 500-mile bike network connecting the city, with an emphasis on safer options like protected bike lanes and off-street trails.
- Since creating the nation’s first bike lane in 1967, Davis, California, has kept up the momentum to call itself the Bicycle Capital of America. Take a historic bike tour through the city before checking out the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame and Museum.
This World Bicycle Day, hire a local LawnStarter pro to take care of your yard chores so you can enjoy two-wheeling in the great outdoors.
- High-resolution image of infographic
- High-resolution images of cities
- 2022’s Best Biking Cities ranking results
- 2021’s Best Biking Cities ranking results
Main Photo Credit: Shutterstock