In celebration of a Bike to Work Week and National Bike Month, we’ve updated our ranking of Most Bikeable Large U.S. Cities.

Portland narrowly edges out hilly San Francisco for the top spot, with Denver (home of the legendary B-cycle bike share) coming in a close third.

Bike Score

Top 10 Most Bikeable Large U.S. Cities

1. Portland (Bike Score: 70.3)

2. San Francisco (Bike Score: 70.0)

3. Denver (Bike Score: 69.5)

4. Philadelphia (Bike Score: 68.4)

5. Boston (Bike Score: 67.8)

6. Washington D.C. (Bike Score: 65.3)

7. Seattle (Bike Score: 64.1)

8. Tucson (Bike Score: 64.1)

9. New York (Bike Score: 62.3)

10. Chicago (Bike Score: 61.5)

Note: to keep our rankings apples-to-apples the list above only includes cities with 500,000 or more residents.

Smaller cities like Cambridge, MA crushed it with a Bike Score of 92 and Davis, Boulder, and Berkeley all scored in the high 80s.  Minneapolis also deserves an honorable mention with a Bike Score of 79.

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Across the U.S. bicycle commuting grew 47% between 2000 and 2011. However, in cities that are making investments in bicycle infrastructure and education (which includes all of the Top 10 Bike Score cities listed above), bicycle commuting has grown 80% over the same period. This trend is leading a growing number of multi-family developers to build bike-friendly housing with secure storage spaces for bicycles and even putting repair shops in the buildings.

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33 Comments

  1. Presley

    Cutoff at 500,000 seems arbitrary and unnecessarily biased. The land area of Tucson would include most of the metro area of Minneapolis/St. Paul that has a population of 3 million. Tucson is about 2,200 people per sq mile while Minneapolis is 7,000. For that matter Portland is only 4,500 per sq mile. Isn’t there a way to more fairly do these rankings that takes into account the giant land area of western “cities” when compared to older midwest and eastern cities?

  2. was carless

    Portland’s population is about 592,000 while Minneapolis is about 387,000 according to wikipedia. Thats a huge difference. Sure, the metro area are the same, but we aren’t comparing metro area biking scores.

  3. Slim

    Counting Minneapolis and St. Paul as one city would be fair as they function as one city in many ways and biking between the two is easy. That would easily clear the 500,000 threshold.

  4. chuckles

    Minneapolis should be put back in the “big city” category.

  5. Joe

    Have you been to the twin Cities? I live there. They do not come close to functioning asthe same city and are aactually vastly different.

    Also, it is NOT easy biking between the two downtown cities, as there is only one trail that it even a straight shot.

    But sure, whatever you say, keep contributing using nonsense.

  6. Dan

    Minneapolis will never surpass Portland. How many people ride in MN in January?

  7. Daredelvis

    Houston scores above San Diego !!??? Houston is flat as the sun baked muds of hell, but that is all it has going for it. Commuting in that city was a nightmare. The bike path leading into the medical center was closed for years at a time with bikes forced onto sidewalks. There are two share the road signs in the whole city, and auto traffic is openly hostile to riders.

  8. Daniel

    can we get a list of the 10 worst??? i feel like such a dubious distinction would stir city governments to try and get off such a list and put more funding into making their city more bike friendly. I live in Baltimore and I reckon we would probably be on a 10 worst list. Its getting better but still

  9. Gilbert

    One often hears about the “two cities” concept dividing Minneapolis and St. Paul, which is true to some extent, given their separate municipality structures (though there are many shared systems, most notably public transportation). Others talk about the differences in terms of culture, which is an over-blown notion that many locals tenaciously cling to.

    But in terms of how Twin Citians (leaving out the suburbs, even) live our lives, so many of us reside in one side and work/play in the other. And in that sense, they function more like a single city – again, even as we limit ourselves to the cities proper, rather than include the entire Metro area.

    Moreover, many of us do indeed bike between the cities, continuing even in our bitter winters. Brave souls some of us are.

    On that note, I am jumping onto my bike from my home in South Minneapolis, and heading for the State Capitol near downtown St. Paul, where our governor will be signing a bill for marriage equality at 5:00 pm.

  10. Slim

    @joe, I lived in Minneapolis for 18 years and Boston for 5. If Allston, Brighton, and Jamaica Plain count towards Boston population, then St. Paul and Minneapolis counting as one city is more than fair.
    @Dan, People still bike in the winter and the park board plows many trails.

  11. norb

    The “over 500,000″ residents makes some sense but Mpls would be in if you did top 50 cities in US by population. It may be better to put them in classes. I don’t think Portland or Denver are “large” US cities either.

  12. Hopper

    So Minneapolis earns an honorable mention with a score of 79, but Santa Monica with a score of 82 doesn’t? Not cool, Walk Score, passing over my home town like that.

  13. Jenny65

    “How many people ride in MN in January?”

    A LOT! (I live here and ride all winter and see a ton of others doing the same).

  14. Christopher in Detroit

    I loved that the comments have devolved into a City Council Meeting in Minnesota.

    I think it would be interesting to have a separate list for 250 to 500 k, if only to see whether or not smaller cities are leading the way.

    It might also be interesting to have a different category for cold weather cities, who have an added degree of difficulty, IMHO.

    Ok, I’ve assigned enough work to others, now I’ll go do some.

  15. Dennis Hindman

    Los Angeles will be in the top ten big cities within three years. This city added 136 miles of bike lanes in the past two years.

    New York City will be knocked off the list by the aggressive amounts of bike lanes installed in Los Angeles and Chicago over the past two years. There needs to be two more American Community Survey bicycle commuting results to do this.

    New York City counts sharrows as bike lanes. The installed 193 miles of bike lanes from FY07-FY12 and 95 miles of sharrows. Their DOT commissioner, Janet Sadik-Khan claims that they installed 300 miles of bike lanes in this time period. This distorts the picture of how many miles of bike lanes this city has. Los Angeles counts sharrows as sharrows since these are not bike lanes, but in fact shared lanes.

    http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/downloads/pdf/bikeroutedetailsfy07-fy12.pdf

  16. Eofor

    How can Indianapolis not make the top ten when it has a population of 836,924 and has a bike score of 94. Is there something I’m missing?

  17. Josh Herst

    Hi, the Bike Score for Indianapolis is 41. See http://www.walkscore.com/bike/IN/Indianapolis. You were likely looking at the Bike Score for an individual address within the city. Thanks!

  18. dave98

    1. It would be nice if population density could be incorporated into the methodology / calculation.
    2. Philadelphia scores #1 among ten US cities having populations of greater than One Million. Never really thought of a city with 500,000 being a large city.

  19. Josh Herst

    Hi Dave, our city-level scores are population weighted. See http://www.walkscore.com/rankings/ranking-methodology.shtml for more information about our ranking methodology. Thanks!

  20. Kevin

    @Dennis Hindman, your comment about bike sharrows being counted as bike lanes implies that bike sharrows should not be used to calculate bike friendliness. That is absurd. Bike sharrows increase the bike friendliness, and for experienced riders, are better than bike paths that often are in disrepair or overrun with pedestrians making them unsafe for commuting.

  21. deskelf

    A couple of things– first, Portland is the 29th most populous city in the United States with just 593,820 people living in the city itself. This list is by (incorporated) city population, not metropolitan area, which for Portland would be around 1.8 million if we were measuring that(24th in the country). Portland, in this example, certainly qualifies as a large city.
    Second, there aren’t ten US cities who, in their actual incorporated area, contain more than a million people. There are 9. Check it.
    So I’d say, stop whining… this is a great list. Population density is definitely a factor worked into the bike-ability of each city, as Phoenix, AZ, for instance, has the density of a sideways fart and a corresponding score of 51.

  22. Aaron Masri

    Why isn’t Providence, RI listed? Was it not included or was it because the score was so low?

  23. Jeff

    I’m wondering whether, if St. Paul was included, the score would be as high. Seems to be a significant difference between the bikeability of the two cities. (And, as a St. Paul resident who commutes, I’d have to agree with that assessment.)

  24. Josh Herst

    Hi Jeff, St. Paul’s Bike Score is 63 http://www.walkscore.com/bike/MN/St._Paul Thanks.

  25. sacramennah

    My, my – we do become fiercely parochial when defending our home towns… Mine comes in at #21. Unfair? Couldn’t say, without riding in all of the other 20. But I sure like riding round my town!

  26. Fat-Tire Madison- Mark

    Great to see Madison, WI in the top 25, though I think it should have a higher place, given the growing number of bike/walk paths and designated lanes. Hills are bummer, going up, fun going down, but nothing a city can change, no more than the number of days above 100 degrees F, hurricanes, 6 months of winter or other immutable forces and foibles of nature. It should be about what we have done and can do to make a place more bikeable. Great site!

  27. Josh Herst

    Hi Aaron, unfortunately we weren’t able to collect the necessary bike lane infrastructure data for Providence. Hopefully we’ll be able to add Providence in the future. Thanks!

  28. Boncratious

    Why isn’t Santa Fe, NM listed in the top 100 Bike Score listing? With a city population of 70,000+ (not to mention being a State capital) is it bigger than some of the jurisdictions listed, and it a lot more bike-friendly than many of the cities listed.

  29. Josh Herst

    Hopefully we’ll be able to include Santa Fe with our next batch! City planners can contact us to have their city added. Thanks.

  30. Cantabrigian

    @slim,

    Allston, Brighton and JP ARE Boston – they are literally neighborhoods of the city. You can address mail to those addresses with “Boston, MA”, they pay taxes to the City of Boston, and they are served by Boston Public Schools, Boston Police and Fire Depts.

    If Cambridge (a completely separate city) had been lumped in with Boston, then I could see your argument for St. Paul and Minneapolis being lumped together.

  31. Aaron

    Austin missed the list :( must be a Lance thing

  32. Josh Herst

    Here’s our Bike Score page for Austin: http://www.walkscore.com/bike/TX/Austin. Thanks.

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