Published on July 5th, 2012 | by Zachary Shahan


Top 10 Bicycling Cities (Highest Bike Commute Rates)

July 5th, 2012 by  

I don’t think we’ve ever shared this list, and the League of American Bicyclists (LAB) just recently updated its page on these cities, adding a graph and some more info, so it seems like a good time to share it.

Before getting to the list, some important or interesting points to make:

  • Bicycle commute rates across the US, in general, increased 39% from 2000 to 2010.
  • Commuters who used the bicycle as their main mode of transport still represented just 0.5% of all commuters in the US.
  • Increases in bicycle commuter rates were biggest in the 38 largest “Bicycle-Friendly Communities” (BFC) — 77% growth — and in the 70 largest US cities — 63% growth. (See graph below.)
  • “A look at the country’s 70 largest cities shows that the communities that have done the most to promote bicycling through engineering, education, encouragement, enforcement, and evaluation — determined by the League’s Bicycle Friendly America program — have seen greater increases in bike commuting over the past decade than non-Bicycle Friendly Communities,” LAB writes.
  • “Since 2005, the 38 Bicycle Friendly Communities among the 70 largest cities saw a 95 percent average increase in bicycle commuting. In contrast, the 32 non-Bicycle Friendly Communities (among the largest 70) grew 46 percent. Since 2000, large Bicycle Friendly Communities grew 78 percent, compared to 55 percent for large non-BFCs.”

Now, the top cities!

  1. Davis, CA — 22.1%
  2. Boulder, CO — 9.9%
  3. Eugene, OR — 8.3%
  4. Berkeley, CA — 8.0%
  5. Cambridge, MA — 6.8%
  6. Santa Barbara, CA — 6.4%
  7. Madison, WI — 6.0%
  8. Gainesville, FL — 6.0%
  9. Portland, OR — 6.0%
  10. Iowa City, IA — 5.6%

And, if you happen to be curious about the top 10 large US cities, here they are:

  1. Portland, OR — 6.0%
  2. Seattle, WA — 3.6%
  3. San Francisco, CA — 3.5%
  4. Minneapolis, MN — 3.5%
  5. Washington, DC — 3.1%
  6. Tucson, AZ — 3.0%
  7. Sacramento, CA — 2.5%
  8. Denver, CO — 2.2%
  9. Tampa, FL — 1.9%
  10. Philadelphia, PA; Oakland, CA; New Orleans, LA — 1.8%

You can view more city-by-city details at those links above as well, like bicycle commuter growth rates, percentage of bicycle commuters who are male or female, absolute numbers of bike commuters, BFC statuses, and more.

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Source: LAB
Image Credit: Bikes Belong 

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the typed word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in.

  • jstack6

    Many other counties are way ahead of the USA. They also don’t have as many obese people. There is a direct link between the two. I ride bicycle every day. I also help at a company that delivers everything on Bicycle

  • Pingback: Bike Commuters Healthier Than Gym Goers | PlanetSave()

  • Zach S

    It’d be interesting to see where the top ten cities rank w/ college kids excluded. All but Portland and maybe Santa Barbara are college towns, which have unique commuting patterns.   College students are less likely to own cars and tend to have very short commutes compared to working adults.  This skews the statistics if the goal is to measure how many typical commuters, to the extent there is such a thing, ride bikes to work. 
    Larger cities are probably immune from this effect, but it would be nice to be able to compare smaller cities against each other on level ground.  Which most of those college towns have in abundance – but that’s a different story.

    • yes, many factors, and college towns clearly dominate.

      have never seen anyone do as you propose. but would be interesting.

    • btw, is your name really Zach S_________? or did you just copy my first name and initial of my last for some reason? seems like “Guest” would be better since it would avoid confusion, unless the answer is the former.

      • Zach S

        You should have noticed that this is my google account, Mr. Other Zach S.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Zach S – please post under another name.  

          I don’t think anyone has to explain why.

        • Yes, I see that, but a ton of people post with a fake gmail acct. Checking the email acct doesn’t really help.

          No need to change, since we’ve got diff images and such… but just wanted to check…

        • Though, to not confuse other readers, it might be nice if you spelled out your last name.

          But i understand that some people are very nervous about privacy for some reason, so it’s your call.

          • Zach S

            Like many thousands of other sites, this one uses the “Disqus” platform for commenting – after Facebook, it is likely the most popular multi-site commenting platform.

            Disqus keeps users logged in pretty much permanently, and you post on every website that uses Disqus with the same name.  In this case, it’s the one associated with my Google account.  I cannot change it.  I don’t mean anything personal.  

          • No prob.


  • Dirk Knapen

    A few years ago Copenhagen had 36 % bicycle commuters, 3 m wide traffic lanes and even a green wave with, if I recollect well, 13 synchronized traffic lights for cyclists.

    • yes, sorry, just a US list. 😀

      as far as big cities, haven’t been to Copenhagen, but have been to Amsterdam and it’s similar — amazing. also, lived in Groningen for ~5 months — 50-60% bike commute rate! (if i remember correctly) insane. and also tied for the nicest town i’ve ever been to. 😀

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