With environmental issues becoming an increasingly important issue in international political forums, federal and local governments are starting to take an increasingly active role in finding more environmentally friendly solutions to infrastructure problems. The seemingly endless increase in motorized transport has put a huge strain on the road systems of most, if not all, cities in North America, and cycling has become a part of the solution. The result has been an unparalleled growth in cycling lanes and multi-use pathways in an attempt to draw people out of their vehicles and onto their bikes. The potential results seem to be a win-win for all concerned: reduced emissions, less traffic, and the obvious health benefits that can come from riding a bicycle. However, some cities are better than others for making bicycling safe on the roads. Here are some of the best of them:
Fort Collins CO
In October 2008, Fort Collins solidified its place among the nation’s most bicycle friendly communities when the League of American Bicyclists announced that the city had achieved Gold Level Designation. The city was able to achieve this status by embracing every kind of cyclist. A large commuter population benefits from the miles and miles of trails and bike lanes while off roaders can take advantage of a BMX track, a mountain bike pump track, and skills/trials parks. Home to a number of great bike shops and bike companies, like Big Shot Bikes, Panda Bicycles, Black Sheep, and Niner, Fort Collins also hosts numerous city-wide events such as the Spring (and Winter) Bike to Work Day, the Urban Assault Ride, New Belgium’s Tour de Fat, and the MS 150 Road Ride. These events, along with organizations like the Bike Co-op and FC Bikes, continue to increase the bike culture presence, making Fort Collins one of the most bicycle friendly cities in the United States.
Portland is quickly becoming a model for other North American cities aspiring to turn their own towns into spaces in which bikes, cars and pedestrians can co-habit in harmony. In accordance with the sheer amount of cyclists on the streets, Portland benefits from the seemingly endless miles of cycle lanes and paths, and almost everything you look at is set up to cater for the cyclist and his mount. Bicycle racks, drinking fountains and a public transport system that is set up to carry bicycles anywhere are just some of the features that make Portland a cyclist’s favorite.
In many respects, Seatltle and Portland are competitors in the
friendliest sense. But one of Seattle’s ambitions in the battle of these
Northwest cities is to better Portland as a bicycle friendly city.
Seattle is already a fun place to ride a bicycle. Although it is a busy
city, there are well marked cycling lanes and plenty of safer routes for
cyclists to choose downtown and beyond. The city itself continues to
develop as a bike friendly place with the City Council putting its money
where its mouth is by planning to add a further 450 miles of bike paths.
Also, Seattle, like Portland, has an extremely vibrant competitive
cycling scene. Whether its cyclocross, road biking, mountain biking or
even track, there is a style of cycling to suit your taste, and a level
to suit your ability.
It is no secret that the Mayor of the Windy City is a dedicated road
cyclist, and that has been reflected in Chicago’s development as a good
place to ride your bicycle. As with most cities, Chicago’s bike lanes
are increasing, but the town has gone the extra mile with a Bike Station
in Millennium Park that provides not only parking for 300 bicycles, but
also lockers, showers, and a snack bar with outdoor summer seating, bike
repair and bike rental. You can ride your bike downtown, park it in a
safe environment and shower so that you are ready for work, all in the
same place. The commitment to bringing cycling to the city center has
also included hosting high profile events such as the downtown Chicago