Bike riding is fun, healthy and can save you money, but getting where you want to go and getting there in one piece depends heavily on a city’s infrastructure.
There are a billion bicycles in the world. Nearly half of them are in China, but 100 million of them are here in the U.S.
Riding a bike is good exercise, and if you use it to get to work, you can save thousands on car insurance, gas, maintenance and car financing.
But nearly 1,000 bicyclists die every year and over 130,000 are injured in crashes on U.S. roads, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most bicyclist deaths occur in urban areas, and about 27% occur at intersections.
Bike riding is fun, but it’s no fun getting hit by a car or even worrying about getting hit by cars. Lower speeds, around 25 mph, is one of the ways that can make bicycling safer in communities, according to People For Bikes, which works to get more people cycling to promote healthier populations and a more livable planet. They also advocate for protected bike lanes–especially on faster roads–intersection treatments such as traffic signals, stop signs, crossing islands, and flashing beacons, and reducing motor vehicle travel lanes to make space for other uses like protected bike lanes, wider sidewalks, bus lanes, or trees and benches.
Some U.S. cities are champions in this regard, many others are working on improving safety. Every year People for Bikes rates more than 1,000 cities in the U.S. and Canada to determine the best places for bicycling.
Their Bike Network Analysis, which is worth 80% of a city’s rating, is a data analysis tool that measures how well bike networks connect people with the places they want to go, and includes six categories:
People: Access to other people in the city based on the resident population distributionOpportunity: Access to jobs and educational institutionsCore Services: Access to critical services such as health careRecreation: Access to public recreation outletsRetail: Access to shopping areasTransit: Access to major transit hubs
The scores result from combining a city’s bicycle network analysis score and a community survey score. The survey score is worth 20% of the city rating, and measures how people feel about biking in their city.
Here are the 30 best cities in the U.S for bicycles, according to PeopleForBikes.