California, Colorado, Oregon, Minnesota, Illinois, Washington, Wyoming
8 Bike-Friendly Cities in the USA
Stay fit, get where you need to go and have fun doing it.
Make sure to grab a bicycle when visiting these eight U.S. cities.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
There’s hardly a more idyllic setting than Jackson Hole, Wyoming, to explore and to pedal some serious kilometers. Nestled in a valley close to Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks, Jackson (as affectionately dubbed by locals) lends itself to over 90 kilometers of paved pathways and 185 kilometers of mountain bike paths. Legendary scenery like snow-capped peaks and verdant forestry paired with occasional moose and bear sightings puts Jackson in the upper echelon of cycling destinations.
Bikers can start in Jackson town behind the post office on The Jackson Hole Community Pathway that links nearby Wilson, Teton Village and Grand Teton National Park. Riders can also take a spin “Around the Block,” taking them on a 161-kilometer journey west over Teton Pass, south on Pine Creek Pass and back north through the Snake River Canyon.
Some of the best trails in the country are in Jackson, like Snow King’s “Cache to Game” — a cycle up Cache Creek and onto Game Creek Trail that makes for an unforgettable 32-kilometer loop finishing in town. The new Jackson Hole Bike Park in Teton Village is the valley’s only bike lift that leaves passengers to choose from six different downhill paths of varying difficulty levels.
Maps and additional information can be found on the Friends of Pathways Jackson Hole website.
Biking in Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Whether you want to mountain bike, pedal through town or flock to an annual biking event, Bellingham, Washington, has you covered with its mix of cycling options. The city of Bellingham itself is hailed for having many streets which are safe for bikers and even publishes a biking map outlining routes with wide shoulders and low traffic. Plenty of trails like the Cornwall Park Trail, Northlake Whatcom Park “Hertz” Trail and Lake Padden single track trail are all within city limits.
Biking isn’t only limited to locals, either. Rentals are available through Jack’s Bicycle Center (1907 Iowa Street), Fairhaven Bicycle (1108 11th Street) and Paddle and Pedal Adventures in Birch Bay.
The Tour de Whatcom attracts 1,000 visitors every summer and offers riders a choice of 3 routes ranging in distance around the county. Bikers who really want to get their blood pumping might consider attending Bellingham’s Festival 542, a nearly 40-kilometer ride with a 1,310-meter elevation gain on Mount Baker Highway 542.
Biking in Bellingham, Washington
Chicago, Illinois, is known the country over for its commitment to developing protected bike lanes within city limits. Currently, Chicago has over 320 kilometers of on-street buffered and protected shared bike lanes. By the year 2020, the city hopes to increase those number of kilometers to a staggering 1,038 city-wide which would officially make it the most bike-friendly city in the USA.
The inception of Divvy, the bike sharing service that has 5,800 bikes and 580 stations around the city, is a game-changer when it comes to encouraging non-riders to join in. Not to mention that mayor Rahm Emanuel aims to protect cyclists with a law that will increase the fine for "dooring" a bike rider to $1,000. Pair all that with the 30-kilometer Lakefront Trail along Lake Michigan, and Chicago has a pretty solid case for winning over the hearts of cyclists nationwide. Check out some of Chicago’s bike maps and start planning your trip.
A bike by Lake Michigan in Chicago, Illinois
There’s a good reason why the League of American Bicyclists awarded Minneapolis, Minnesota, with the Gold Level Bicycle Friendly Community Award. This city proves that biking isn’t just for fun, but also an alternative to commuting to work while cutting down on traffic congestion and parking woes.
Midtown Greenway serves as a 9-kilometer east-west city crossing path that’s free of traffic and makes cross-town trips fast and easy. The USA’s first bicycle freeway, the Cedar Lake Trail, runs roughly 9 kilometers from downtown Minneapolis and has three lanes of traffic: two one-ways for cyclists, and a lane for pedestrians. A place where bike couriers still thrive and sub-zero temperatures don’t deter hardcore cyclists surely deserves accolades.
Biking in Minneapolis, Minnesota
It seems like almost everyone in Portland, Oregon, bikes; cyclists are everywhere. Over 7 percent of people commute to work on their bikes, ranking it the highest of any U.S. city. The city’s lined with more than 500 kilometers of bikeways, plays host to a dizzying amount of biking events, and even inspired some residents to start up BikePortland.org, a daily news source for all things bicycle-related.
Some popular rides include a cruise along the Eastbank Esplanade, a 2.5-kilometer corridor along the Willamette River; the Springwater Corridor that ultimately leads south to Mount Hood National Forest; and Forest Park, which highlights northwest Portland’s old-timber growth.
Bikes in Portland, Oregon
The nation’s capital is setting a precedent for the USA to become more bike-friendly by becoming so itself. Separated bike lanes, the installation of 1,600 bike racks and the inception of a bike-share system (Capital Bikeshare) have all helped Washington’s D.C.’s case. The surrounding areas of Arlington, Virginia, and Montgomery County, Maryland, aren’t excluded, with their vast systems of off- and on-street biking trails.
You can pedal your way around the Jefferson Memorial, and even trek down Pennsylvania Avenue to see the White House and Capitol Hill. For the full experience, take the Great Washington Bicycle Loop Ride around downtown and the surrounding suburbs.
Biking in Washington, D.C.
300 seems to be the magic number in Boulder, Colorado. With over 300 days of sunshine a year and nearly 500 kilometers of dedicated bikeways, Boulder seems like a cyclist’s utopia. None of this was an accident, of course, as careful and considerate city planning was necessary to construct the city’s on-street bike lanes, contra-flow bike lanes, paved shoulders, multi-use paths and soft-surface paths.
For a nice east-west ride that runs along Boulder Creek, take the 11-kilometer Boulder Creek Path east into Boulder town or west to Boulder Canyon. Nature enthusiasts needn’t fret: ride the beginner mountain biking Heil Valley Ranch trail just north of Boulder within Lefthand Canyon. Need to rent a ride? University Bicycles (839 Pearl Street) in town rents bikes by the half and full day and even includes helmets and a lock. Visit the Boulder County website for a comprehensive biking map of Boulder.
A bike in Boulder, Colorado
San Francisco, California
Recent years have sparked an insurgence of cycling activity in San Francisco, California. Some say it’s the mild weather, others the availability (or lack thereof) of parking, but biking in San Francisco has definitely grown in popularity. Many of the bike paths are located on the west side of the city, and bike lanes give your quads a break, as most of them traverse the flatter parts of town.
Riding across the Golden Gate Bridge is a must, starting at Fort Mason and making the 11-kilometer journey to view the iconic and dreamy cityscape. For the lovers of hustle and bustle, a trip in the bike lane through Valencia Street allows you to take in all the hubbub of nearby shops, restaurants and retail outlets. Bike parking stalls, quirky biking events (New Belgium’s sponsored Tour de Fat, no doubt an exercise in whimsy), and a detailed bike route map round out San Francisco’s cycling appeal.