RewardExpert compared the 53 largest cities and evaluated them on 13 different criteria, including biking infrastructure, bike-share index and bike safety, to determine the top bike-friendly cities in the country—making them perfect to explore by bike.
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20. BaltimoreScore: 79.0 1 of 23
Ranking in the top 10 for safety, Baltimore was named one of the up-and-coming cities on this year's list. The city has steadily increased bike lanes per square mile and has even started a bike-share program in recent years. With more improvements on the horizon, Baltimore will likely see itself moving up the list in years to come.
19. Charlotte, North CarolinaScore: 79.6 2 of 23
One of the only southern cities on the list, Charlotte lands at No. 19 thanks to its bike-share program and safety rankings. However, the one thing really holding it back is its city profile, including the low number of commuters who bike to work and the city's lower bikeability.
18. Austin, TexasScore: 80.4 3 of 23
The only Texas city on the list, Austin squeaks into the top 20 thanks to its No. 16 ranking for its bike-share program, as well as No. 17 rankings for bikeable days out of the year and commuters who bike to work. Increases in safety and infrastructure, including an increase in bike lanes, could help move the Live Music Capital of the World up the list.
17. PhiladelphiaScore: 80.7 4 of 23
While the City of Brotherly Love kills it in the city profile category, which includes commuters who bike to work and bikeability, it doesn't exactly impress elsewhere, including rankings in the mid-20 to 30 range for safety, bike-share program and bike infrastructure. However, with a few more bike lanes and sharing stations, Philadelphia could find itself rocketing up the rankings in no time.
16. IndianapolisScore: 81.1 5 of 23
Named the most improved city on the list, Indianapolis has made strides to increase its bikeability and bike-share program over the past few years. The measures serve to make Indiana's capital city more bike friendly to locals and tourists alike. However, if it wants to continue its upward trend, it needs to improve safety—it currently sits next-to-last on the list.
15. San Jose, CaliforniaScore: 82.8 6 of 23
Just an hour's drive from San Francisco, it's no wonder San Jose made it into the top 20 of this year's list. Coming in at No. 6 for number of bike lanes and paths, the city's main downfall is safety, ranking only 50th out of the 53 communities evaluated.
14. Nashville, TennesseeScore: 83.2 7 of 23
Nashville scores well in bike infrastructure thanks to its number of protected and unprotected bike lanes, as well as paved paths. However, the Music City has some catching up to do in the other three scored sections.
13. Los AngelesScore: 85.4 8 of 23
One of the most improved cities over the last five years, Los Angeles finds itself at No. 13 on the list, thanks primarily to high rankings in the bike infrastructure and bike-share program categories. If the City of Angels can improve its overall safety, it has a chance to crack the top 10 next time around.
12. San FranciscoScore: 87.9 9 of 23
While the sheer number of steep hills may scare off some tourists—causing them to head for the famous trolleys instead—San Francisco actually ranks No. 1 in city profile, meaning it has the best combination of bikeability, number of pleasant days per year and commuters who bike. It also comes in at No. 4 for bike safety, giving cyclists peace of mind when it comes to exploration. The only thing holding the City by the Bay back from a spot in the top 10 is bike infrastructure, where it landed at No. 31 on this year's list.
11. MiamiScore: 88.2 10 of 23
Idling just outside the top 10, Miami pulled in average scores across the board, with its highest category being city profile. And it's no wonder—it's glamorous Miami, after all! If it can improve its status in the other categories, including increasing bike lanes and bike-share stations, expect to see it higher on the list next time around.
10. DenverScore: 89.2 11 of 23
Historically considered a bike-friendly city, Denver scored well across the board. Its bike-share program is wide-spread and ranks fourth in number of stations per capita. Plus, the city has more than 260 paved bike paths, ideal for exploring and taking in the stunning views of the Mile-High City.
9. Columbus, OhioScore: 89.3 12 of 23
Not your typical bike city, Columbus ranks No. 9 due to improvements in bike infrastructure over the past few years. The number of bike lanes per square mile has increased 13 percent year-over-year, and the bike-share program has created more opportunities for people to explore the city on two wheels.
8. San DiegoScore: 90.2 13 of 23
It's no surprise the birthplace of triathlon also breaks the top 10 for best cities to explore by bike. With 99 miles of protected bike lanes leading to a safer environment, San Diego is the perfect destination for cyclists looking to actively explore a vibrant city.
7. SeattleScore: 90.5 14 of 23
Seattle is a bike city—and a safe one, to boot. Sitting at No. 4 in terms of safety, Seattle's improvements over the past few years landed it inside the top 10. With 48 miles of paved bike paths, it's the perfect PNW city to explore in the saddle, whether you're checking out the Space Needle, Pike Place Market or even the infamous gum wall.
6. Portland, OregonScore: 90.6 15 of 23
It's no surprise that Portland makes this list, coming in just outside the top five. "The city breathes biking," according to RewardExpert, and it ranked near the top of many of the categories analyzed. Notably, Portland hit No. 1 for total commuters who bike to work. Who wouldn't want to ride along with picturesque Mount Hood in the background?
5. Washington, D.C.Score: 91.8 16 of 23
Tied for first in bike safety with Boston, D.C. has a lot to offer when it comes to bikes. Not only is it a safe city for you and your family to explore, but the nation's capital also has the most extensive bike-share program. With more than 340 stations and 463 bikes per 10,000 commuters, it's easy to hop from one museum or national monument to the next.
4. New YorkScore: 93.3 17 of 23
Why bother with the subway, a taxi or—gasp—walking, when you could take advantage of New York's ample opportunities to ride a bike. Its well-known bike-share program has over 400 miles of bike lanes and 72 bikes per 10,000 commuters, allowing you to hop from Broadway to Times Square with a push of the pedals.
3. ChicagoScore: 93.3 18 of 23
A large public bike-share program and over 440 miles of protected and unprotected bike lanes make the Windy City this list's third-best city for exploring by bike. Already a tourist hotspot, Chicago just got a little more appealing for your next family vacation.
2. BostonScore: 93.9 19 of 23
Known for sports teams and American history, Boston is also making a name for itself in the realm of bikes. With the second-most bike lanes of all surveyed cities (4.1 bikes per square mile), as well as a bike-share program that has been around for years, it lands at No. 2 on the list. Not to mention, it also tied for first with D.C. in terms of bike safety, putting tourists looking to explore the Freedom Trail or head to Bunker Hill at ease on the roads.
1. MinneapolisScore: 94.9 20 of 23
With a whopping 170 bike-share stations and 130 miles of bike lanes, it's easy to see why Minneapolis tops this list as the best city to explore by bike. The city has over 180 miles of designated bike paths, and four percent of its commuters ride two wheels to work. This is as close as you'll get to cycling utopia in the U.S.
Most Improved Cities21 of 23
These cities have made significant changes in their biking infrastructure over the past five years.
1. Indianapolis: The most improved on the list, this city increased in number of commuters who ride to work as well as number of bike lanes per square mile.
2. Las Vegas: The city increased its number of bike lanes from 1.2 to 3.6 per square mile.
3. Columbus, Ohio: The number of bike lanes increased while biking accidents decreased.
4. Los Angeles: The number of bike lanes increased 22 percent year over year.
5. Nashville, Tennessee: This southern city increased its number of protected and unprotected bike lanes.
Up and Coming Cities22 of 23
The following cities have significantly improved over the past three years, and have implemented a city-wide bike share program in the last six months or have one in the works.
1. Memphis, Tennessee: With plans to implement a bike-share program this year, the city has already increased its number of bike lanes to accommodate the change.
2. Colorado Springs, Colorado: Plans for a bike-share program are in the works and the number of bike lanes has increased to 1.6 per square mile recently.
3. Jacksonville, Florida: The number of bike lanes increased and the city's first bike-share kiosks will be available soon.
4. El Paso, Texas: The number of bike lanes increased by 7.5 percent per square mile and the bike-share program recently added seven new locations in the fall of 2016.
5. Baltimore: The city's bike-share program started last fall and bike lanes increased to 1.1 per square mile.