Do you travel on two wheels? Do you judge a city by the presence of bike lanes and driver friendliness? And are you part of the pandemic bike boom, or are you a proud cyclist for life? Bike sales went through the roof during pandemic times (road bike sales alone were up 87 percent), making it tough for newcomers to even score a bike. So perhaps you're among those unlucky souls who are still on the waitlist for a sold-out ride.
According to Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), nearly one in three Americans rode a bike in 2020. Whether you're a seasoned cyclist or are still searching for a set of wheels, you're going to want to bone up on our list of the best cities for bicyclists.
So how, exactly, did we determine the best cities for bicyclists? We took a number of factors into consideration, from miles of bike lanes and the number of shops where you can stock up on gear to safety rates and how many commuters cycle to work. Oh, and yes, weather — paying close attention to extreme temperatures and daily precipitation.
When it comes to our 10 best cities or bicyclists, there's a clear trend: West is best. From Colorado mountain towns to the Pacific Northwest, the West is serious about its cycling. But be prepared for a couple of surprises — even the colder climes of the Midwest make an appearance. Ready to see which cities made the cut?
Home to the University of Arizona, and its 44,577 students, Tucson boasts 350-plus sunny days a year — making it one of the sunniest cities in the country. Yes, the environs of the Sonoran Desert can get steamy (expect triple digits in the summer), but it is dry heat after all. And there's always the pleasant breeze you'll generate from pumping those pedals.
From single-track trails winding through giant saguaro cacti to The Loop, a 133-mile paved shared-use trail in metro Tucson, you'll find ample safe places to spin your wheels here. Ready to set up shop on the edge of the desert?
Find your new favorite neighborhood and budget around $1,366 for a two-bedroom apartment.
You may already know how hip San Francisco's northern neighbor is, but did you know that Oakland is a Gold Level Bicycle Friendly City? One of only 34 cities to achieve this designation, it takes a healthy cycling infrastructure and pro-bike policies to get there.
More than 5 percent of Oakland residents commute by bike, and you'll find plenty of places to stock up on gear. Cruise around the Port of Oakland or soak up the coastal scenery on the Bay Bridge Bike Trail — there are ample options to explore.
As you may expect here in California, rent prices are steep. Expect to pay around $3,887 per month to rent a two-bedroom. The good news? Rent prices are down 9 percent since 2020. Also, it could be worse — the same digs in nearby San Francisco would cost you around $4,511.
There's clearly a trend with college towns that have a rep as top party schools — looking at you, University of Arizona (Tucson) and UW-Madison. The 43,820 fun-loving co-eds who like to bike here are in luck — the University boasts a platinum-level Bicycle-Friendly University ranking.
Beyond campus, you'll find ample places to travel on two wheels in Madison, from bike paths throughout the city to gems like the loop around Lake Monona and Cam-Rock's mountain biking trails.
Not afraid of those freezing, windy winters? Good on you, gear head. You'll be rewarded for your resilience with down-to-earth Midwestern rent prices. Madison is the second cheapest place to live in our top 10 (after Tucson). A two-bedroom apartment will only cost you around $1,648.
According to The Seattle Times, “biking is a way of life in Seattle." The cycling community here is strong, to say the least, and the Cascade Bicycle Club's 206-mile Seattle-to-Portland (STP) bike ride is practically a rite of passage. So don't sweat the constant drizzle and get used to those gray skies — you'll be in good company.
With the Puget Sound on one side of the city and Lake Washington on the other, plus the stunning backdrop of the Cascades, the views from your saddle are hard to beat.
From the booming coffee scene to fantastic public transit, there are a few things you should know about Seattle if you're considering a move. And we've got some very good news about living in the Emerald City. Rent prices are down … way down, as in 26 percent lower than last year. Take advantage of the downtrend and you can expect to pay around $2,884 for a two-bedroom.
Our third college town to crack the top 10, Fort Collins is home to Colorado State University. From the quaint Old Town Historic District to the fun single track of the Blue Sky Trail, there are plenty of great places to ride around Fort Collins. The city also produces 70 percent of Colorado's craft beer (and 7 percent of the United States), so perhaps a bicycle brewery crawl is in order.
Fort Collins bike cred is strong. The Platinum-rated Bicycle Friendly Community has more than 200 miles of bike lanes and 50 miles of marked bike routes. Better yet, prices for this Colorado city won't break the bank. A two-bedroom here will cost you around $1,743 per month.
We know what you're thinking … something along the lines of, 'Oh, yikes, cold,' right? You're not entirely wrong. However! Take it from Bicycling Magazine, which ranked Minneapolis No. 1 among America's most bike-friendly cities. And we quote, “Despite the cold wintertime climate, Minneapolis has a thriving bike community. It has 120 miles of on- and off-street bicycle facilities, plus indoor bike parking and other cycling-friendly facilities." So, there you go.
Boasting a bike score of 83 and an impressive cycling infrastructure, this is definitely the bike-friendly half of the Twin Cities.
Ready to dig a little deeper and learn everything you need to know about Minneapolis? Go ahead, we'll wait … now that you're sold, let's get down to brass tacks. Expect to pay around $1,950 in rent for a two-bedroom apartment, which puts this city somewhere in the middle of our top 10 when it comes to rent prices.
Oh, Portland. What can we say, really? You make biking cool (bonus points if you sport a handle-bar mustache between your actual handlebars). Nearly 7 percent of the population bikes to work, and you'll find more bike shops here than anywhere else on our top 10.
There are plenty of bike lanes, trails and traffic-free areas in this bike-loving city, not to mention some amazing coffee to keep you fueled for the ride.
So yes, the secret is out, and Portland isn't exactly the West Coast bargain of yesteryear. But still, you could do much worse. And while $2,157 may feel a bit steep for a two-bedroom apartment, that's actually an 8 percent dip from last year's rent prices. Pack your bags, it's a veritable bargain!
Boulder boasts the highest bike score among our top 10, rolling in at an impressive 89. It doesn't matter if you're hitting Marshall Mesa single-track or cruising on the Nelson Loop, this beloved Colorado town has a ride to suit your mood, style and fitness level. With 300 miles of bikeway that include 84 miles of multi-use paths, 50 miles of bike routes and bike lanes galore, Boulder easily takes our number three spot.
Cyclists and outdoor enthusiasts aren't the only folks to flock here, which may explain the somewhat steep rent prices. Clocking in at $2,295 per month, rent in Boulder is actually down 27 percent from last year. Did we mention that more than 10 percent of the population here bikes to work? Prepare to meet your people.
Located on the picturesque Willamette River and beloved for both the arts and the outdoors, lush Eugene is home to the University of Oregon. And while plenty of people on two wheels around town are college students, the cycling community in Eugene runs deep — all walks of life around here appreciate how easy it is to get around town without an engine. Between the world-class cycling infrastructure and strong bike-commuter culture, Eugene outpaces its flashier neighbor to the north (ahem, Portland).
So what's the price tag for living in bike-friendly bliss? Budget just under $2K for a two-bedroom apartment.
Oh, and in case you occasionally take to the track/trail/street on two feet, you should know that Eugene is the birthplace of Nike. There's a reason the city has the nickname “Track Town."
Surprised to see San Francisco in our No. 1 spot? We have to admit, images of steep city hills and the world's most crooked street (hello, Lombard) came to our mind, too. Suffice it to say, bikers here have super impressive quads. And also — some of the best scenery in the world to soak up from the saddle. Plus, there's the ideal cycling weather that's never too hot or too cold.
You'll have plenty of company biking in both the city and on the peninsula, not to mention tons of bike trails. If you don't mind narrow city streets, windy days and those early winter sunsets (think: before 5 p.m.), then come and see why this is America's best city for bicyclists.
Make sure to bring your wallet though! Our most expensive city on the top 10, San Francisco's rent prices stun at around $4,511 per month for a two-bedroom.
Hey, why stop at 10, right? It makes sense to get the full picture before deciding where you'd like to spin your wheels, possibly forever.
Let's face it, our top 10 isn't too geographically diverse. Aren't there cities in the sweaty South beloved by bicyclists? Well, since you asked … peruse our top 50 to sift for those gems.
|Final Rank||City||Population||Bike Score Rank||Weather Rank||Business Rank||Infrastructure Rank||Safety Rank||Commuter Rank|
|1||San Francisco, CA||881,549||9||16||8||2||7||7|
|6||Fort Collins, CO||170,243||5||43||10||4||4||3|
|11||Long Beach, CA||462,628||15||4||38||6||18||28|
|13||New York, NY||8,336,817||2||28||13||14||25||23|
|20||San Diego, CA||1,423,851||35||9||17||26||26||26|
|21||Salt Lake City, UT||200,567||17||48||25||24||12||12|
|23||San Jose, CA||1,021,795||21||17||37||8||32||29|
|25||Los Angeles, CA||3,979,576||24||6||39||28||30||22|
|29||New Orleans, LA||390,144||12||18||46||41||31||9|
|36||Las Vegas, NV||651,319||43||3||32||36||40||42|
|42||Colorado Springs, CO||478,221||43||45||35||30||23||38|
|43||El Paso, TX||681,728||49||11||48||45||21||48|
|44||Virginia Beach, VA||449,974||41||22||40||49||39||41|
|47||San Antonio, TX||1,547,253||47||5||42||40||49||50|
|48||Baton Rouge, LA||220,236||43||19||44||42||50||37|
To find the best cities for hipsters, we ranked each of the following factors:
We ranked each city according to these six categories and assigned a score for each one. We then added the scores for each city to come up with a final ranking. Our methodology allows for ties.
We excluded cities with insufficient data in each of these categories. Our final list contained roughly 60 cities.
Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and Rent.com's multifamily rental property inventory as of May 2021. Our team uses a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each unit type and reduces the influence of seasonality on rent prices in specific markets.
The rent information included in this article is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.