Minneapolis once again rules as the most bikeable city in America, according to an analysis by real estate company Redfin and its Bike Score tool.
Locations rated by Bike Score are scored on hilliness, connectivity and access to bike lanes, paths and sharrows. It also includes data on how many people are already biking, because, Bike Score says, “The ‘safety in numbers’ research indicates that more bikers on the road makes drivers more aware of bikers — and more drivers have had the experience of biking.” On those metrics, Minneapolis earned a score of 81.9 out of 100, making it the country’s most bikeable city.
“As both a mayor and a bicyclist, I place a high priority on sustainable and inclusive transit,” said Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey in a statement. “Our greenway, our nationally-renowned parks, and our city’s commitment to creating streets safe for everyone have helped make Minneapolis a national model for bike and pedestrian embracing infrastructure.”
Following closely behind in the rankings is Portland, Oregon, which climbed into second place with a score of 81.2 (9.2 points higher than its score in Bike Score’s last city-by-city rankings, in 2015). Chicago, Denver, San Francisco, and Seattle follow, with scores in the low 70s. Boston, New York, Washington, D.C., and Sacramento round out the top-ten list.
The algorithm doesn’t count bikeshare availability when scoring, and its count of cyclists on the roads is based on census data on bike commuting (meaning it doesn’t take into account cyclists running errands or riding recreationally). Nor does it account for the presence or absence of bike parking. But as imperfect as it is, cycling advocates have embraced the Bike Score tool since its launch in 2012.
So why does Minneapolis lead the rankings yet again? In 2015, the city updated its bicycle master plan, and plans to add 30 miles of protected bike lanes by 2020. While not explicitly factored into Bike Score’s rankings, the city also has invested in bikeshare and prioritized safety around high-crash locations.
Portland, Oregon, has also made strides through its plans to connect neighborhoods to the downtown core with bike lanes and greenways. A 2016 report by the National Association of City Transportation Officials points out that Portland’s policies “make protected bike lanes the default design for all separated bike lanes,” which improves safety (Portland’s cyclist fatality and injury rates are well below the average for similarly sized cities). In 2015, Portland officially adopted a Vision Zero plan, as Next City reported at the time.
Some cities fell in the rankings. Because the Bike Score algorithm no longer counts road shoulders as bike lanes, Kansas City (Missouri), Atlanta, and Las Vegas all saw significant score drops. (Detailed methodology is available here.)
The takeaway from the Bike Score release is perhaps the same as the takeaway from the NATCO report. As Next City reported, “building out bike infrastructure is central to increasing bike ridership and equity.”
Rachel Kaufman is Next City's senior editor, responsible for our daily journalism. She was a longtime Next City freelance writer and editor before coming on staff full-time. She has covered transportation, sustainability, science and tech. Her writing has appeared in Inc., National Geographic News, Scientific American and other outlets.