Monday, May 21, 2012

Top 50 bike-friendly cities

Bicycling magazine has released its list of the 50 most bike-friendly cities.

Portland reclaimed the #1 spot. No surprise; Portland is "in your face" bike friendly, and proud of it. #2 is Minneapolis. #3 is Boulder, CO. #4 is Washington, DC. #5 is Chicago.

Chicago?!? Really? All I can figure is that this list reflects the aspects of bike-friendliness that can be controlled by people and policies. (The story says, "we evaluated cities with populations of 95,000 or more, using data provided by the Alliance for Biking and Walking and the League of American Bicyclists, as well as input from local advocates and bike-ped coordinators. To make the list, a city must possess both a robust cycling infrastructure and a vibrant bike culture.") It must not put any weight on such trivial details as climate, terrain, etc. Know what I mean? No matter how far they bend over backwards to accommodate cyclists, you'll never see major cycling activity in Minneapolis in January, I'm guessin'. And even if San Francisco (#8) had a dedicated bike lane on every street, some of those streets are so steep as to dissuade cyclists from riding up or down 'em.

Boise is listed at #30. They mention our Greenbelt and trails in the foothills, and tip their hats to our Boise Bicycle Project. And list our biggest challenge as "Figuring out how to reduce incidents of driver hostility in nearby rural areas." So, it's those hayseed rednecks in their big ol' pickup trucks? Well, that challenge may be easier to overcome than "2 straight months of below-zero temperatures every year," or "gridwork of multi-lane freeways that will never be breached."

I would love the luxury of being able to bicycle in all 50 of their favorites, and report my findings. If I can line up a sponsor, I'll spend a week in each, and get back to you in a year. (I'll do Minneapolis and Madison in the spring or fall. Maybe hit Scottsdale in January.)

(An obvious error: As of this writing, Fort Collins, #11, and Tucson #12, both have the same photo of a big college bike-parking lot.)

I subscribed to Bicycling Magazine for a couple years, and enjoyed it. (I only gave it up for the same reason I've given up lots of magazines... I'd rather do something than read about doing something, if I don't have time for both doing and reading-about.)  Every issue was chock-full of new bikes I'd like to have. But IMO they mostly cater to "toy bike" riders and just give the occasional nod to transportation cycling. I wonder how many employees of Bicycling actually use their bikes to get to and from work. The corporate offices are in Emmaus, PA, but the editorial offices may be in the big city.

No comments: