Bike Friendly Cities

daniellejA big part of a sustainable lifestyle is fulfilling your transportation needs with minimal or no dependency of fossil fuels.

Regularly riding your bike to your destination can be the cornerstone of a green living.

Every turn of the pedals means that you just saved yourself money and avoided pumping more CO2 into the environment. Plus you got a little exercise, cleared you head, and had a little fun doing it.  Having a goal to increase the percentage of biked miles out of your overall traveled mileage is the fastest way to reduce your carbon footprint.

Don’t own a bike or have a place to store it?

Check out our recent article about BikeShare and how its helpful to make some towns become part of the most bike friendly cities list.

But such this Leave It To Beaver la-la image is not always easy to realize.  It really depends on where you live and how much foresight the local city planners had in designing or updating your community.   A little fore thought with a few well placed bike lanes can well serve many future generations and could make your hometown one of the most bike friendly cities.

In today’s city papers and urban planning discussions, you see articles talking about the infrastructure advancement for cyclists.   Progress is well underway around the globe.  Many Asian and European cities are already years, even decades, ahead of American cities in terms of bike infrastructure and bike culture, but many communities across the United States have recently completed some pretty extensive bike networks.

Every day, communities across the country are moving forward with making their community more “bike friendly”.  It seems like this may be a real widespread possibility now.

But exactly what makes a city “bike-friendly?”

Periodically Bicycling magazine updates its  list of the top 50 cities in the United States that are the most “bike friendly.”

The 2012 study focused on cities with 100,000 or more people and evaluated based on these factors:

– The number and miles of bike boulevards, municipal bike racks, and segregated bike lanes,

–  How degree of influence cyclists have or how much consideration cyclists are given by the local government

–  The presence of a  “vibrant and diverse bike culture,”

–  Geographical diversity

Sadly, my entire state of Georgia didn’t even have a representative on the list of 50!  And a good part of the South was absent from the most bike friendly cities list.  Ugh!

Dallas is know in the bicycling community as the worst city to bike and last year the city painted its first bike lane!  But we all know that the car culture is pretty deep in that town.   However, two other Texas cities did well, Austin Texas finished a really respectable 13th and San Antonio at 47th on the most bike friendly cities list.

The top Most Bike Friendly Cities in 2012  across the U.S, according to this  recent study are:

  1. Portland, Oregon
  2. Minneapolis, Minnesota
  3. Boulder, Coloradomost bike friendly cities
  4. Washington, DC
  5. Chicago, Illinois
  6. Madison, Wisconsin
  7. New York, New York
  8. San Francisco, California
  9. Eugene, Oregon
  10. Seattle, Washington

Check this out for the  list of all 50 and a map

Interestingly, compared to the 2010 listing, several major cities really moved up the list;  Chicago, Washington, New York, all of which finished some major bike lane projects and opened up congested areas to bike safety.  Of course the perennial contenders of Portland, Boulder, Madison, all remain firmly in the top group.

On the other end of the spectrum from the most bike friendly cities is the lists of bike friendly cities:  The Worlds Best Bike Friendly Cities

Here are some of our favorites that will make your city bike trip more enjoyable.

If your hometown is somewhere on the list and you’re not already biking a healthy percentage of your transportation needs,  re-evaluate your transportation habits.  Seriously!

With the help of your favorite search engine, you should be able to find some online bike maps to get some ideas of where you can safely bike.  Google Bike Maps is a great online bike route source.

Want to chip away at your carbon footprint by biking a higher percentage of your travel miles?  Then challenge yourself to bike a larger percentage of your travel miles – see the earlier GreenBlizzard Walk Bike Challenge posting for some ideas.

Or,  perhaps you might be planning a trip to one of these cities.  Biking around is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint, save $$ on a car rental, and really get to know the city and its citizens. 

Ride on!

If your city is bike-friendly, then consider these to make your bike “errand-friendly”

Get A Good Basket – Keeping your hands free is critical. There are all sorts of options online and at your local bike shop. Look for either front handle bar detachable baskets that can serve as a shopping basket, or rear wheel collapsible baskets that can hold bulky items.   Also, comfortable backpack can be invaluable on errands.

These really functional baskets are popular with our staff: Sunlite Standard Mesh Bottom Lift-Off Basket, Nantucket Stained Bicycle Basket, Retrospec Bicycles Cane Woven Rectangular “Toto” Basket, Schwinn Quick Release Wire Basket, or Bushwhacker Rear Pair of Bags.

Get a Good Lock – The new really thick cable combination locks work well.   These are flexible and there’s no key to lose.  Just set the combo to your birth-date for memory ease.

These strong locks are popular with our staff:Kryptonite Kryptolok U-Lock with 4-Foot Flex Cable, Etronic Combination Cable with Lock, or Cocoweb U-Lock with Flex Loop Cable. And the ultimate, never have to worry about your bike lock – Kryptonite Keeper Integrated Chain Bicycle Lock.


About the author

Danielle Jappah

Danielle brings a touch of southern US charm to our writing team.Since points of view on climate change vary depending on resources, economies, and political viewpoints of the region, we wanted a southerner to expand our point of view. The U.S. South has its own unique POV on climate change and Danielle writes from her office in Atlanta inspiring southern naysayers to wake up and recognize what happening everywhere.