10 Best Cities for Cyclists
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The only major city to receive "Platinum" bike-friendly status by the League of American Bicyclists, Portland has a lot to love if you're a cyclist. With more than 2,000 organized rides a year, a bike share system, close to 100 miles of bike paths and almost 200 miles of bike lanes, Portland has long been known as a cycling utopia, and the city works hard to maintain that reputation year after year.
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One of Minneapolis' signature attractions is the Cedar Lake Trail, dubbed a "bicycle freeway" with separate one-way lanes for bike traffic and a third lane for pedestrians. The 4.2-mile trail goes from downtown to St. Louis Park. An additional 92 miles of on-street bikeways and 85 miles of off-street bikeways spread across the city makes Minneapolis a perfect place for cycling residents.
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Places like The Presidio, Golden Gate Park and the Embarcadero are perfect for cyclists looking to explore. If biking is more of a practical thing for you, the city has more than 63 miles of bicycle lanes, according to the San Francisco Bike Coalition. The number of people cycling in San Francisco has risen dramatically in the last 10 years, and the city is working hard to keep up. In addition, the final stage of the 2013 Tour of California will start in San Francisco and head north.
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The nation's capital is one of the first metropolitan areas to start a large bike-sharing program, and Capital Bikeshare now has 1,200 bikes and 140 stations. In addition, Washington has more than 50 miles of bike lanes and 50 miles of paved trails, and has one of the more popular Bike to Work Day events in the country.
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The home of USA Cycling has plenty of places for cyclists to safely go—118 miles of bike trails, 53 miles of bike lanes and an additional 61 miles of mountain bike trails. The city also adopted a "Complete Streets" ordinance that mandates that any new roads keep ALL commuters in mind, not just vehicle drivers.
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Chicago has 204 miles of bike lanes and plenty of bike paths, including the scenic Chicago Lakefront Trail that spans 18 miles. The work is ongoing, too—in 2012, the Chicago Department of Transportation installed and restriped a total of 39 miles of bike facilities under the direction of bike-loving mayor Rahm Emanuel.
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Chicago made a bid for the 2016 Olympics and proposed all the cycling competition take place in and around Madison. And why not? Routes like the Capital City Trail, Lake Monona Trail, and along the edge of Lake Mendota on the University of Wisconsin campus allows Madison to brag that it's "the bike capital of the Midwest."
New York City
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The 2013 introduction of Citi Bike, New York's bike-sharing system, will only enhance the city's reputation as bike-friendly. Bike commuting in NYC doubled between 2007 and 2011, and with a majority of vehicle trips in the city shorter than three miles, New York went to work to encourage those trips to be made by bike. The city recently completed its three-year goal of adding 200 miles of bike lanes to the city streets.
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Seattle adopted a Bicycle Master Plan in 2007 to triple the amount of safe bicycling around the city. It includes added bike lanes, the installation of bike boxes, buffered bike lanes and more. The plan calls for 95 percent of Seattle's residents to be within a quarter-mile of a bike facility by 2017. The measures have a lot of support—particularly from the 14,000-member Cascade Bicycle Club, the largest bicycling club in the United States.
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Austin has designated a policy to accommodate cyclists on all new road projects, and has plans to build on its 131 miles of bike lanes and 50 miles of multi-use paths around the city. Among recent additions is a 6.4-mile Lance Armstrong Bikeway through downtown Austin, which cost $3.2 million and opened in 2009.