In an age of expensive energy, gridlocked cities full of traffic, and environmental concerns over internal combustion engines, it’s no wonder that e-bikes have gained an incredible foothold in the personal transportation industry. Individuals looking to reduce their commuting costs and reduce their environmental footprint are turning to e-bikes for commuting, running errands, and visiting friends. For those that live in crowded cities, the demand is ever greater as traffic jams, and expensive parking are prohibitive to owning a car.
But where exactly are the most bike-friendly cities, and what makes them so? Which cities are the fastest growing for bike commuting? And how can e-bikes play a role in this revolution? We answer all of those questions and more in today’s post.
What Makes for a Good Bike-Commuting City?
There are many factors that contribute to the “bike-ability” of a city and the increased use of bikes by commuters. Perhaps most important is a safe and easy infrastructure such as thoughtfully planned bike lanes or dedicated bike lanes and partitions. Not only does a safe and convenient web of bike lanes limit the number of vehicle-bike collisions, but it also increases the feeling of safety by the bikers themselves, which in turn causes a compounding effect as more people see more riders biking.
But you cannot have a great infrastructure without proper planning. In this realm, supportive local politicians and bicycle awareness groups help the most. Big construction projects take years to complete and have a high price tag. It requires thoughtful leadership to prioritize this in their city. And because it is such a long process, the length of time these groups have been supporting bike-friendly initiatives is important.
Cycling clubs and mild weather year-round are also important factors in creating a popular city for bike commuting. Bike clubs are inviting and more visible while riding, and mild weather makes it easier to justify any bike investment as one can use the bike most of the year rather than just for safe biking in the summertime.
The population of bike commuters increasing is a great indicator that brings us to five of the best bike commuting cities in the U.S. ranked by the fastest growing from a number of data sources:
1. Boston, Massachusetts
Based on the American Community Survey data conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, the League of American Bicyclists notes that Boston, MA saw a 59% increase in bicycles being the preferred mode of transportation from 2000 to 2019. This was the highest of any U.S. city. The reason for this popularity surge is partly due to the fact that Boston has had a bike-friendly culture since the 1970s at least. As we noted in our previous section, bike-friendly politicians and initiatives are one of the most important factors in the rising popularity of e-bike or traditional bike commuting. Many miles of bike paths and bike lanes have been put down in Boston over the recent decades, helping it to top this list.
2. Boulder, Colorado
Boulder, CO has ranked at the top of “most bikeable cities” for many years for the simple fact that much of the groundwork has been laid to make it so. Over 300 miles of bike lanes are spread throughout the city, making it easy to plan your commute no matter where you work or live. A healthy culture that focuses on fitness and outdoor activities accentuates this bike-friendly area. Another reason for the surge in the popularity of commuting by bike in Boulder is the number of underpasses that can be found in the city, which are tunnels underneath major roads. A safe commute is, unsurprisingly, a popular commute.
3. Eugene, Oregon
The pacific northwest is home to beautiful mountains, old forests draped in moss, and high biker safety. This is partly due to the fact that many bike safety advocacy groups have been formed in the area, and the local government promotes bike safety via policies and programs. Drivers in Oregon are often safer due to their lower speed limits on highways and roads compared to the rest of the United States, which also helps the situation. City planners have discussed using bicycle lights to further improve the safety of commuters going through intersections.
4. Madison, Wisconsin
Many riders in the Midwest may cite weather as a common reason to forego commuting by bike, but that’s not the case in Madison, Wisconsin, where riders boast more bikes than cars and are well-known for their bike-friendly city. The City of Madison has a vision statement to “make bicycling an integral part of daily life in Madison” and shows they want to model the way for other cities. With plenty of biking infrastructure and this leadership focus on biking, it’s no surprise they have a safe and popular city for bike commuting. College students are also a big part of the groundswell of Madison bikers, as the University of Wisconsin campus is very safe and convenient for students commuting to class.
5. Austin, Texas
One reason why Austin is so bike-friendly is due to its repavement cycles. When a city repaves certain roads, they have an opportunity to redraw safer markings and make space for shared bike lanes. Ballot initiatives have been successfully passed in Austin during many local elections and are another tailwind for bike adoption in the city. Austin discovered that many trips are often less than 3 miles, and these are the perfect opportunities to commute or run errands via bike. The year-round warm weather also provides a good foundation for a popular biking city.
How Can E-bikes Play a Role in Commuting?
As you can see, commuter e-bikes are both helping and helped by the advancements in city biking prioritization at the local level across America.
Regardless of where you live, there are ways to make a bike commute more enjoyable and feasible. One of the best ways is by adopting the use of one of these electric bikes. Ride faster and more efficiently with an e-bike and arrive to work without being covered in sweat. Save money by avoiding car insurance or parking fees and double the benefit by getting your exercise in at the same time. If you are commuting to or from work at dawn or dusk, be sure to check out our 8 safety tips for riding e-bikes at night.