On a bicycle, you become part of the streetscape instead of just staring at the city’s sites. RewardExpert.com’s recently released study rates the best and the worst major U.S. cities for cyclists. Read on to learn how to get the most out of touring the country’s bike-friendly cities.
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To come up with its ranking , Reward Expert, a site created to make it easy to use your airline frequent flyer miles for free tickets, compared 53 of the largest U.S. cities, evaluating them on 13 key metrics across four categories. These were biking infrastructure, city profile, bike-share index and biking safety.
What makes a bike-friendly city? “Protected bike lanes, a good network of bike parking and a culture of mutual respect between cyclists, drivers and pedestrians,” says Derrick Ko, CEO of Spin, a bikeshare program. “By exploring our cities on bike, we become part of the streetscape, as opposed to being an observer in a metal box.”
The health benefits of biking are an added bonus, but safety is undoubtedly the determining factor when planning your tour. Knowing the best and the safest cities for cyclists is crucial for anyone planning a bike-tour vacation, so consider your own experience of driving cars in the cities analyzed. While Boston and New York City rank near the top in Reward Expert’s study, I found that to those cities’ drivers, turn signals, lanes and red lights were often optional. For me, that made driving a car scary and biking terrifying. Bikeshare programs often do not provide helmets, so bring your own.
1. Minneapolis, MN, received a rating of 94.9 out of a possible 100 points. The city has 170 bike share stations, 130 miles of bike lanes and nearly 180 miles of paved paths for biking or walking.
2. Boston, MA received 93.9 points. The city has 4.1 bike lanes per square mile, the second most bike lanes as well as the second highest number of bikes in their bikeshare program of all the cities analyzed. Reward Expert ranks Boston as tied for first place with Washington, D.C., for safety.
3. Chicago, IL, received 93.3 points. Chicago has 300 bikeshare stations, 2.1 bike lanes per square mile, 161 protected miles of bike lanes and 280 miles of unprotected lanes.
4. New York, NY, received 93.3 points. The city has 400 miles of bike lanes plus 72 bikes per 10,000 commuters in its bikeshare program.
5. Washington, DC, received 91.8 points. With 347 bikeshare stations and 463 bikes per 10,000 commuters, the District has the most extensive bikeshare program in the U.S. The District and Boston tie for first-place in safety.
RewardExpert’s Worst U.S. Cities to Explore by Bike
53. Lexington, KY, received the lowest score, 57
52. Tulsa, OK, received the second lowest score, 59.8
51. Detroit, MI, came in third from the bottom with a 61.6
50. Corpus Christi, TX, came in fourth from the bottom with a 63.5
49. Dallas, TX, came in fifth from the bottom with a 64.1
Follow Candyce H. Stapen on Twitter: @FamilyiTrips
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