[Clean Air Watch periodically publishes guest posts of possible interest. Today's guest post is by Holly Chavez]
Top 10 Bike-Friendly Cities in the U.S.
America’s love affair with automobile transportation is dwindling,
and conscientious people are looking to find alternatives to using their
vehicles. Many government officials and private organizations, such as the
Cascade Bicycle Club in Seattle, are taking notice of the trend and constantly
working to upgrade city streets and park trails to accommodate cyclists. Here
are the 10 top cities that extend a friendly welcome and show support for bike
riding within their borders.
In addition to being better for the environment, bike riding has
numerous health benefits. Americans are taking advantage of this
environmentally-friendly way of travel by trekking across the United
States. Whether you ride along a nature trail, or take a cruise along the lake
front, Chicago is a bike-friendly place to visit. The city officials have even
paved the way for better trails and initiated a CDOT (Chicago Department of
Transportation) Divvy Bikes sharing program– which is easy to use and promotes healthy
While bike riding can be a great way to get around, you need to
use extreme caution when navigating through regions such as Washington D.C. A
bike helmet and protective gear can make your ride safer and more enjoyable,
especially when commuting through this heavy pedestrian community. With more
than 300 stations, Metro D.C.’s Capital Share bike programis affordable, and there’s always a close
place to pick up and return your bike. It’s a great way to explore all the
historic sites, without having to pay for parking or deal with maneuvering your
way through 1-way or blocked streets.
San Francisco, California
Obeying traffic signals and riding safely is important for cutting
down on accidents and injuries. This especially holds true in hilly regions
such as San Francisco. The city’s efforts are focused on keeping bikes a main
method of transportation. The police and local government places great emphasis
on bike safety, and they also take pride knowing that over 75% of their morning
riders are dedicated to commuting by bike.
Over 90% of Boulder’s community can be navigated via bike. The
city’s phenomenal Valmont Bicycle Parkconsists of a 40-acre space dedicated to dirt
jumps, trails and racecourses. With a cost of $1.2 million, half of the funds
were paid by the city, and the rest came from supportive private donors.
Whether you’re training for a specific event, commuting to work or just out for
a relaxing ride, you’re sure to notice the Boulder biking culture.
This City of Lakes exceeded Portland as the #1 biking community in
2010. While you would think that the weather conditions aren’t necessarily
conducive to biking, in fact the topography is ideal to the sport. The flat
surface, trails and bike paths contribute to its top ranking. The Cyclopathis an interactive map for
cyclists and covers the areas of Minneapolis, St. Paul and seven nearby metro
county areas. Cyclists can share their experiences, update roads and paths
information, and even record their personal ‘bikeability’ ratings.
While they may not have as many local bike owners as Chicago and
Minneapolis, the weather and bike attitude certainly make up for it in Austin.
The city’s mindset is focused on paved trails and bike lanes to help promote a
more friendly biking community. Austin has been designated by the Share the
Road Cycling Coalition of Canada (in partnership with the Washington based
League of American Bicyclists) as a Silver-level Bicycle Friendly
New York City, NY
NYC created the first bike path in the United States in 1894. With
over 10,000 bicycles and 600 stations, it’s an aesthetically pleasing biking
oasis. Organizations such as Transportation Alternatives helped to heighten the
bike-riding craze by distributing rider safety and etiquette pamphlets to the
public. Bicycle enthusiasts can also enjoy the largest recreational cycling
eventin America, with NYC’s annual
Five Boro Bike Tour. Over 30,000 cyclists participate in this fun-filled
42-mile sojourn which takes place the first Sunday in May.
Seattle has an interesting success story regarding their master
plan for biking options in the city. The Cascade Bicycle Club, an organization
with 14,000 members and 80,000 supporters, grew tired of waiting on sluggish
government officials to implement the biking plan. They took the reins and
successfully lobbied to elect officials who helped push through green
infrastructure, scores of healthy bike trail options and even some fun events.
Projects Seattle offerings which help support cyclists include the two-way cycle track on Broadway.
Springfield’s going bike-friendly, and there are always lovely
places for pedal cyclists to enjoy nature and make their way to work safely.
Additionally, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released
information highlighting statistics of bicycling accidents nationwide, and
Springfield registered as a very safe city in which to ride your bike. In fact
Springfield and all other cities combined in Missouri came in at a very low
0.2% of the total resident population on the survey. Compare that to over 5% in
Delaware and over 4% in Florida.
While most cities give bike riders the same right of way and
driving rights when they are pedaling around in traffic, it’s still not very
safe to get on the same stretch of road where vehicles are whizzing by you at
45 miles per hour. Cyclists are certainly at high risk of being struck by cars
- hit and run dangers always exist and will also give a city a poor rating when
it comes to bike riding. You may not realize that in a case where the driver of
the car failed to make contact with you, and caused you to swerve to avoid a
collision, they can still be held liableif you were injured as a result.
The above 10 bike-friendly communities are dedicated to safety and
building a better bike-happy community. As people become more environmentally
conscious about the world they live in, their modes of transportation are
kinder to Mother Nature. By leaving your car at home, you can do your part to
ensure a cleaner, healthier and less polluted future for the children of
tomorrow. There many streets in our communities already that would be perfect
for bike riders already. Trouble is…they’re full of cars right now.
Holly Chavez telecommutes because she enjoys working at home and
likes the fact that she can do her part to lower the carbon footprint.
She supports the Arizona Bike Club, an organization that she volunteers
for, which helps promote bike ridingand the infrastructure it supports.