Surprises in new top 50 “bicycle friendly” list from Bicycling mag

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September is the home stretch for baseball fans watching the pennant races. But bicycling fanatics are probably more interested in another set of standings.

Linden Avenue cycle track, Seattle's first

Linden Avenue cycle track, Seattle’s first

Bicycling magazine has issued its biennial rankings of “America’s Top 50 Bike Friendly Cities” and there are some surprising changes in the top spots.

For one, Portland is no longer the leading the pack. It slipped to fourth place behind New York City (1), Chicago (2), and Minneapolis (3). The Oregonian found that its hometown is falling behind in the “next wave” of bicycling amenities — buffered bike lanes and bike sharing.

For another, Seattle was listed at 8th place. That’s up from 10th in 2012, but not quite as high as its 4th place in 2010.

The whole list of 50 is in the October issue of Bicycling, now on the news stands. [It’s not online yet.]

Ranking the cities

I don’t know how science-friendly these rankings are. Bicycling editors say they consult the US Census results that track how many people commute to work by bicycle. They also factor in the amount of money spent on bicycle infrastructure, miles of bike lanes, and interviews with local advocates.

A surprise for me would be how the list doesn’t really match up with the League of American Bicyclists’ list of “bicycle friendly communities.”

Although the League doesn’t rank cities in numerical order, it does put cities in categories. Platinum is the top, followed by gold, silver and bronze.

Oddly, Bicycling’s top two “bicycle friendly” cities only made the third tier — silver — in the League’s assessment. Platinum level (the highest) Fort Collins doesn’t show up until 9th place.

At its website, the League explains that cities are judged based on five criteria — engineering, education, encouragement, enforcement, and evaluation and planning.

Here’s how the two match up, comparing Bicycling magazine’s friendly ranking with the League’s friendly category:

1. New York City — Silver

2. Chicago — Silver

3. Minneapolis — Gold

4. Portland (OR) — Platinum

5. Washington DC — Silver

6. Boulder — Platinum

7. San Francisco — Gold

8. Seattle — Gold

9. Fort Collins, CO —  Platinum

10. Cambridge, MA — Gold

Here’s the remaining 40:

11. Austin

12. Denver

13. Madison, Wis.

14. Philadelphia

15. Eugene, Ore.

16. Boston

17. Tempe, Ariz.

18. Tucson

19. Arlington, Va.

20. Boise

21. Pittsburgh

22. New Orleans

23. Long Beach

24. San Jose

25. Indianapolis

26. Salt Lake City

27. Oakland

28. Los Angeles

29. Miami

30. Scottsdale, Ariz.

31. Alexandria, Va.

32. Sacramento

33. Thousand Oaks, Calif.

34. Chattanooga, Tenn.

35. Cincinnati

36. Milwaukee

37. Gainesville, Fla.

38. Salem, Ore.

39. Albuquerque

40. Saint Paul

41. Grand Rapids, Mich.

42. Reno

43. Louisville

44. Columbia, Mo.

45. Colorado Springs

46. Ann Arbor, Mich.

47. Omaha

48. San Antonio

49. Des Moines

50. Cleveland

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