Every two years, Bicycling.com, sifts through Census and department of transportation data on more than 100 cities, consult with experts from organizations such as People for Bikes, the Alliance for Biking & Walking, and the League of American Bicyclists, and talk with bike advocates and everyday riders to identify the 50 most bike-friendly towns in the United States. They look at everything from miles of bike lanes to the percentage of cycling commuters who are female to the number of cyclist-friendly bars. Here are the 50 cities that made the cut this year.
Many a mayor has garnered headlines by proudly proclaiming that such-and-such city will be a top cycling city by so-and-so year. Often, years pass, and said mayor’s promises go un-kept. Thus, when in 2013 Kasim Reed proclaimed that sprawling Atlanta would transform into a top ten city for bike riders by 2016, some cheered. Others rolled their eyes. Proclamations come easy. Success requires dogged determination.
But in Atlanta, now, progress: A $250 million transportation bond with $32 million designated for complete streets and bikeways (“We wanted 15 percent of the bond, but considered 13.5 percent a victory,” says Rebecca Serna of the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition); a sales tax on the November ballot that if passed will help fund trails, bicycle boulevards, and protected bike lanes; and a city Bike Czar, Becky Katz, hired in 2015 with a $250,000 grant supported, partly, by the philanthropist owner of the Atlanta Falcons, Arthur Blank. There’s an expanding citywide trail system, the BeltLine, and even a protected bike lane on downtown’s Peachtree Center Avenue (although on Google Street View it appears to be clogged with parked vehicles).
Atlanta’s city-funded open streets events suggest there’s a pent-up desire for thoroughfares that cater to more than motor vehicles, drawing as many as 100,000 roadway revelers. “I once saw a teenage daughter turn to her dad at an open streets event and sincerely say, ‘This is the coolest thing you’ve ever done,’” says Senna. “That dad now bikes one mile to the gym, instead of driving.”
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