Just as Boulder’s beautiful peaks attract mountaineers, cyclists are drawn to its whopping 300 miles of bikeway, including 84 miles of multiuse paths, 50 miles of designated bike routes, and six miles of bike lanes—all of which give the city a bike score of 3.7. In fact, bike culture runs so deep that the city hosts a weekly Boulder Cruiser Ride, a themed event held every Thursday from spring to fall, in which costumed cyclists throng the streets in celebration of the city’s freewheeling way of life.
Fort Collins, Colorado
Boasting a bike score of 3.6, Fort Collins has managed to out-pedal its peers in the West through a spate of bike-friendly infrastructure improvements, including the introduction of toucan crossings, which accommodate both pedestrians and pedaling bikers; protected bike lanes; and narrower car lanes that reduce the speed of motor traffic and increase the space between cyclists and drivers for safer riding. Also, in collaboration with the city, FC Bikes hosts two annual bike-to-work events with free breakfast stops to tide over hungry cyclists.
Eugene began its quest to become a biking haven in 1970, when the city council appointed a five-person citizen-staff committee to plan an extensive bikeway and solve cycling-related problems. Its efforts more than paid off, as Eugene not only snagged a bike score of 3.4 but also received a Gold-Level Bicycle Friendly Community award from the League of American Bicyclists in 2013 in recognition of its vast network of bike boulevards, bike lanes, and off-street bike paths as well as its use of city buses equipped with bike racks.
New York City
In the Big Apple, the bike paths are even longer than the skyscrapers are tall, particularly in the cycling mecca of Manhattan, which has a bike score of 3.4 and 330 miles of street bike routes. But not all 1.6 million New Yorkers who have ridden a bike within the past year have done so in the smallest borough. Brooklyn earns a 3.3 for its 300 miles of bikeway, and Queens is not far behind with a score of 3.1 and more than 200 miles of bikeway.
Safety is of the utmost concern to cyclists, and perhaps no city looks out for residents on two wheels better than Arlington, which earned an overall bike score of 3.4 and an impressive safety score of 4.4. The city, which has more than 50 miles of bike trails, offers a bike-share program and Learn-to-Ride classes for adults. Last year it introduced a new contraflow bike lane that allows cyclists to ride in the opposite direction of automobile drivers to avoid accidents.
There’s perhaps nowhere better to be a budget-conscious college student or an eco-conscious football fan than Lawrence, the home of the main campus of the University of Kansas. The city has 16 miles of bike lanes and 39 miles of signed bike routes, and earned a bike score of 3.4. If you're feeling ambitious, try circling the city on the Lawrence Loop, a 22-mile paved off-street path, now about 75 percent complete, that reaches such hot spots as Rock Chalk Park and Baldwin Creek.
Unconventional sights in this offbeat city include the world’s smallest park and a vacuum museum, but residents astride bicycles aren't in the least unusual. In fact, the City of Roses, which earned a bike score of 3.3 and offers 385 miles of bikeway, boasts the highest percentage of city dwellers who commute by bike, at 6.7 percent of the population.
Whether you’re exploring the University of Wisconsin or Lake Mendota, it’s easy to get around via velocipede in this city with 75 miles of bike paths and a bike score of 3.2. Over 5 percent of Madisonites commute by bicycle, while outdoor enthusiasts spend their free time rolling along on trails and bike courses that include the UW-Madison Arboretum trail, which is dotted with flowers and fauna, and Ironman Wisconsin, one of the most rugged bike courses in the country.
Two hundred miles of bikeway await cyclists in this city with a bike score of 3.2. For a bit of a challenge, hit the bike-friendly 50-mile Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway, which carves a large circular path through the city. If you're looking for a shorter trip, focus on a portion of the circle, the 15-mile Chain of Lakes trail that connects Brownie Lake, Lake of the Isles, Cedar Lake, Bde Maka Ska, and Lake Harriet.
Northwest Arkansas is home to more than 200 miles of bikeway, which makes this southern city with a bike score of 3.1 a prime haunt for gearheads. Paved trails, such as those at the Bentonville Bike Playground, offer casual bikers scenic views of the Ozarks. But if you’re up for a challenge, hit some of the 28 miles of rugged mountain bike trails, including Blowing Springs Trail.
Santa Barbara, California
When Santa Barbara residents aren’t paddling out to sea in search of big waves, they’re mounting their bikes to hit primo paths that include the 4.5-mile Cabrillo Bike Path and the Obern Bike Trail, a 21-mile loop that takes you past the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Goleta Beach, and then eastward toward the center of the city. Wherever your wanderings take you, the city with a bike score of 3.1 boasts 43 miles of bike trails and plenty of bicycle rental shops, so you don’t even need your own set of wheels to enjoy a delightful beachfront ride.
Protected bike lanes, bike-sharing, and the use of dockless bikes are all on the rise in our nation’s capital—a few reasons for the city's respectable bike score of 3.1. Though bike commuting is most common near the urban core, a full 5 percent of the city’s population gets to work on two wheels.
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Though the city’s nickname of “Little London” is a nod to its early prevalence of British residents, it could just as easily apply to its wealth of bike paths that bring to mind its counterpart across the pond. With a bike score of 3.1, Colorado Springs offers 120 miles of urban bike trails and 60 miles of unpaved mountain trails, including Seven Bridges Trail, an advanced course that features several small drop-offs, and the beginner-friendly Ute Trail, peppered with spectacular red rock formations, near Garden of the Gods Park.
Recently named one of the most affordable cities in the United States, Fayetteville is also among the more bike-able, with a bike score of 3.1. The city earned the maximum acceleration score of 5.0 as a result of its rapidly improving cycling infrastructure, which includes extensive trails, street bike routes, and an ample number of bike rental shops.
Santa Monica, California
You never know what you'll find around the next bend of this city's 113 miles of bike lanes, from celebrities to the colorful characters at Santa Monica Pier. For the past decade, the city has been expanding facilities and encouraging more residents to commute on bike—which explains the city's bike score of 3.1 and its Silver-Level award from the League of American Bicyclists.
Denver attributes its bike score of 3.1 to its park-and-ride stations, bike-share program, and extensive network of bikeways, which encompass 85 miles of paved trails. The city draws cyclists in droves to events such as the Denver Classic, recast for 2019 as a women's-only professional bike race, and the monthly Denver Cruiser Rides, held from May through September.
Infrastructure and safety measures like the installation of two-way protected bicycle lanes and bollards that keep cars from veering into cyclists' turf have contributed to Springdale's bike score of 3.1. These efforts are also reflected in a high reach score of 4.0, a measure of how consistently the city’s bike trails serve everyone—for instance, a hefty 53 percent of Springdale residents make use of local bike trails.
Amateur and pro cyclists alike pedal from all four corners of Ohio to hit Athens’s extensive bike paths, most notably the 21-mile Hockhocking Adena Bikeway, an appealing feast of towering trees, wildflowers, and brew houses. In addition to scenic courses, a plethora of bike repair and rental shops, and bike paths that safely dip underneath bridges at road crossings, contribute to the city's bike score of 3.0.
While only the most avid of cyclists brave Ferndale’s snow-covered streets during its frigid winters, active residents of all ages pull their bikes out of storage in May for Bike Month events like Bike-to-Work day, group rides, and a basic bike repair class. The city has also popularized cycling through initiatives such as Ferndale Moves, which promotes biking and walking over motorized methods of transit, and is pushing for a bike-share program. These efforts have earned Ferndale a 3.0 from People for Bikes.
Bella Vista, Arkansas
More than 50 miles of trails, with 50 more in the works, and four distinct though temperate seasons make Bella Vista a cyclist's dream city and give it a bike score of 3.0. Whether you’re traversing the 2.6-mile Applegate Bike Trail or tackling the 22-mile Back 40 Loop, be sure to pump the brakes on occasion to take in the area’s natural splendors, from caves to waterfalls.
Get the help you need for the home you want—sign up for the Bob Vila newsletter today!