Thursday, April 8, 2010

Bicycling Magazine's Top 5 Bike Cities -- Plus Miami's Big Turnaround

Minneapolis dethroned Portland and snagged the #1 spot and Miami moves off "The Worst" list and now ranks #44.

In its May issue, Bicycling magazine ranks the 50 most bike-friendly cities in America. The Top 5: Minneapolis, Portland, Boulder, Seattle, and Eugene, OR.

Especially notable on this year's list is the greatly improved city of Miami, which was on Bicycling's "Worst Cities for Cycling" list in 2008 and is now one of five up-and-comers, ranking 44th.

This year's list pays homage to cities that have shown real innovation, as well as local government support and a vibrant bike culture. Highlights from the new 2010 best cities for cycling are as follows:

Top 5 Best Cities:
1. Minneapolis
2. Portland
3. Boulder
4. Seattle
5. Eugene, Or

(I worked for newspapers in Boulder and Seattle and biked those cities, which is why I know I advise people to visit other cities to see in real life how cities can be bike-friendly).

Bicycling Magazine's Worst Cities:
Birmingham, Ala.
Jacksonville, Fl.
Memphis, Tenn.

5 Rising Stars:
8. New York City
17 Albuquerque, NM
23 Long Beach, Calif
39 Cleveland
44 Miami

Continuing its progress for cyclists, Minneapolis moved into the number one slot this year after being named a runner-up for most improved city on the 2008 list.

Given its subzero temperatures and harsh road conditions in winter, Minneapolis seems an unlikely candidate for the title of America's Best Bike City, but the city's active biking culture and enthusiasm for the sport - and the fact that it doubled its percentage of bike commuters in just three years - pushed it over the edge.

"Bicycling's Best Cities list this year proves that great things can happen in short periods of time, even in the largest metropolitan areas," said Loren Mooney, Editor-in-Chief of Bicycling.

"New York City is literally re-engineering its streets to accommodate bikes.

"And watching a city like Miami pull a 180 to become bike friendly has been incredibly gratifying for us. This year's list is evidence that a much needed, far reaching pro-bike movement is in full swing, all across the country."

Central to Miami's noteworthy move into the top 50 list is the strong local biking community, which in 2008 was motivated to lobby then-mayor Manny Diaz for change.

In a complete turnaround, Miami has now adopted a Bicycle Master Plan - launching education initiatives, installing greenways and bike lanes, and even creating Bike Miami Days, which shuts down a 10-block stretch and offers free bike rentals and check-ups to encourage interest.

To compile the list, Bicycling editors strove for geographical diversity and considered cities with populations of 100,000 or more. They narrowed it down using factors such as cycling-friendly statistics (numbers of bike lanes and routes, bike racks, city projects completed and planned) including changes in these statistics and a city's future plans since the last survey; and bike culture (number of bike commuters, cycling clubs, cycling events, renowned bike shops). Editors also referenced the Bicycling and Walking in the United States 2010 Benchmarking Report prepared by the Alliance for Biking and Walking, the League of American Bicyclists Bicycle Friendly America project, and interviews with national and local advocates, bike shops, and other experts.

As for the worst American cities for cycling, Bicycling pointed to Birmingham, Alabama; Jacksonville, Florida; and Memphis, Tennessee. Despite community interest in cycling, these cities have fallen victim to suburban sprawls that lack bike lanes, and slow-going planning and implementation of improvements.

For the complete top 50 list or for more on Bicycling's Best Bike Cities, visit For a slideshow of each of the top 50 cities, plus information on the best small and best foreign cities for biking, go to

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