Bike-Friendly Cities – The Best Places to Ride

Bicycling around town on two wheels is much more efficient than driving or hailing a taxi cab, but not every city makes this possible.

Some communities do take cycling into account and provide optimal environments to make pedaling easy for riders of any level of experience. From businesses offering bike racks to prioritizing cycling networks, pedaling spots that enable easy participation are the ideal places for pedalers.

Santa Monica

Santa Monica is the quintessential California beach town, making it the ideal cycling destination. With 22-mile multi-use paths hugging its stunning beach frontage and offering beautiful ocean views, diverse eateries, art galleries and clothing shops; plus its iconic Santa Monica Pier (featured in movies and TV shows alike); eight distinct neighborhoods offering outdoor adventure, wellness spa services and shopping; Santa Monica is truly paradise for cyclists!

Santa Monica took an important step toward becoming more bicycle friendly a decade ago with its Bike Action Plan. Residents embraced bicycling as part of their identity, while now its culture and local businesses support cycling.

Santa Monica earned an exceptional PeopleForBikes City Rating of 3.2 out of 5, thanks to the rating system which evaluates how well cities meet all residents’ needs for social connection to nature, physical fitness and recreation, safety of roads and trails as well as welcoming bike transportation as part of daily life.

San Francisco

San Francisco is an idyllic cycling paradise, boasting miles of bike paths, scenic vistas, and photo-worthy stops. Even if you don’t own your own bike, bike racks and rental locations can be found throughout town – with Bay Wheels making renting hassle-free and budget friendly.

San Francisco tops our list as an ideal bike-friendly city due to its extensive bike network and bike share program, enabling visitors to easily explore its neighborhoods on two wheels. Take a spin around Presidio Park for spectacular sights such as its historic Main Post, coastal bluffs, and breathtaking views of the Golden Gate Bridge!

The highest-scoring large cities each scored 50+ points, and nine of them saw their scores increase year-over-year, such as Philly adding curb-protected bike lanes, Portland improving its bikeway network, and New York doubling its dedicated bike lanes.


Seattle stands out as one of the top cycling cities worldwide, boasting some of the safest speeds for traffic, protected bike lanes and road crossings, reallocated space dedicated solely for biking, intersection treatments and network connections, as well as cycling events that make Seattle especially bike-friendly.

Alki Beach in Seattle draws visitors looking for scenic waterfront views of Elliott Bay and Olympic Mountains to jog, walk, or bike along its waterfront pathway. There is also an attractive path which runs alongside it for added enjoyment.

PeopleForBikes’ 2023 City Ratings show American cities making strides forward. San Francisco, Portland and Seattle earned top scores; San Francisco in particular earned praise due to its plan to make its entire city center car-free by 2035; Crested Butte in Colorado made waves with its mountain biking trails and town-wide cycling culture; it scored an 88 out of 100 rating.

New York City

American cities often struggle to provide cycling infrastructure that rivals European models; however, the recent pandemic-era cycling boom appears to have taken root and some of its largest metropolises have made considerable strides forward over recent years.

New York took fourth place among large cities for its extensive network of bike lanes, high bicycle modal share, and newly designed intersections. City Hall has prioritized building additional cycling infrastructure to meet demand while their Vision Zero commitment has strengthened bike safety efforts.

New York offers something special for every visitor with its iconic skyline and array of unique attractions, offering something for all five boroughs: the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan and Staten Island – each has its own distinct identity expressed through public spaces from parks to neon-lit Times Square. New York also boasts an excellent bike-share system and its city plan calls for 30 new miles of on-street bikeways and 400 redesigned intersections by 2022.

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