There is something nostalgic about the freedom and exhilaration of hopping onto a bike. Whether you are a competitive cycle rider, daily commuter, or casual weekend bike peddler, going for a ride is always fun.

Even better, you will be helping your community every time you strap on your helmet and head for a ride. More and more people are on bikes for daily errands or commuting to the office, resulting in fewer traffic jams and less pollution. Portland, Oregon, is a great example of this. A recent increase in bikers has led to an almost 10 percent drop in car use. The savings alone topped over $1 million, and that does not include how much better the air quality is around the city.  

The nonprofit organization PeopleforBikes has spent years looking at a variety of data to determine the best biking cities in the U.S. Ranking measurements consist of five different metrics. These components use public data along with surveying riders and commuters to determine the best cities for hopping onto two wheels. These include typical bike ridership, how connected the bike paths are in parts of the city, public safety measures, how fast the paths are expanding, and how far the paths reach.

Madison, Wisconsin

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Boasting over 75 miles of off-street bike paths and 120 miles of on-street paths, Madison, Wisconsin, is definitely a bike-friendly city. The area is shaped like a bow tie, and it is difficult to get into and out of the downtown areas in a car. That is not the case on when you are riding two wheels instead of four. There are safety zones at intersections and bike-specific parking at the majority of downtown businesses. This alone makes riding a bike for errands an easy choice. Plans are underway to develop more bike-protected lanes as well as more robust bike connection routes outside the center of the city.

Tucson, Arizona

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Nestled in the beauty of the American Southwest, Tucson is so much more than picturesque views and stunning vistas. The terrain makes it ideal for all-season biking and is often a cycling tourist spot in the winter. There is a 130-mile loop that circles around the city, which encourages and supports the strong biking culture in town. A project is currently underway to develop and create almost 200 miles of new biking paths, keeping the sustainability of the cycling community in Tucson strong.

Portland, Oregon

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More bike riders live in Portland, Oregon, than any other city in the country. It might have something to do with the very bike-centric roads and the over 300 miles of bike paths. Alternatively, it could be the culture as there are so many bike-themed events in Portland every year. Either way, Portland is definitely setting a high standard when it comes to bike-friendly commuting. There are plenty of bike safety lanes, and plans are in the works to create pathways for underserved neighborhoods. This is going to go a long way in connecting Portland’s community even more.

Boulder, Colorado

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With very protective safety laws and hundreds of miles of bike paths, Boulder, Colorado earns its spot as a bike-friendly city for excellent reasons. The stunning views and an active lifestyle go hand in hand with anyone hopping on a bike. Those traveling around town will find special bike lanes and lots of bike parking available. Currently, revitalization projects are underway to develop and add more bike-protected lanes to ensure cyclist safety in this mountain community.

Wausau, Wisconsin

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Its population is less than 50,000, but Wausau, Wisconsin is one of the most bike-friendly towns ever. The entire town connects via bike paths. This makes it straightforward for residents to ditch their cars and take in the pristine nature views when cycling around town. The extra-long bike paths are also ideal for long, relaxing rides on weekends.

Fort Collins, Colorado

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Fort Collins, Colorado is a biking haven, and it is one of the safest cities for bike riders. There is little traffic in this Colorado town, and even during rush hour, biking has the fastest commute time. This is thanks to the ever-growing network of bike paths. Fort Collins has plenty of purpose-built bike intersections, which keeps cyclists safe and removes the need to interface with cars at all.

All of these bike-friendly cities demonstrate that with community planning and support, cycling is sustainable, environmentally friendly, healthy, and growing. The cycling culture is alive and well. Therefore, the next time you are visiting one of these great cities, consider renting a bike and exploring it the way locals do – on two wheels instead of four.