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US Cities With the Greatest Number of Bicycle Commuters Per Capita (Video)

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by N.Morgan

Bicycling has grown into a popular way of transportation over the past decade. Summer weather means more cyclists will be on the road making their daily commutes with a side of fresh air and exercise. You may even be one of these intrepid commuters, and with all the benefits biking offers, it’s easy to see why.

Commuting by bike helps you keep healthy even if you work behind a desk every day, and it can also save you money on gas. In some cities, riding your bike might even be a bit faster than fighting rush hour traffic or using public transit. On top of these personal benefits, biking is also better for the environment than driving a car.

But which cities have the most people taking advantage of these benefits? We found out.


Our tables explained


While researching which cities have the highest percentage of bike commuters, we also checked for bike-friendly policies and conditions. For every city on our list, we’ve included data about the following factors that can affect a cyclist’s commute:

  • Percentage of bicycle commuters: the percentage of a city’s residents that regularly commute on a bike according to data from the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.1
  • Population: the estimated number of city residents according to the US Census Bureau.2
  • Passing distance laws: laws that regulate how close motorists can drive to a cyclist while passing them on a shared road. The minimum distance is typically three feet, enough to keep a cyclist relatively safe from passing cars even if they slip or fall over.3
  • Miles of protected bike lanes: the total mileage of designated bike lanes with partitions or buffers separating them from traffic.4
  • Miles of other bike lanes: the mileage of bike lanes that aren’t necessarily separated from traffic by any buffer.5
  • Elevation range: the difference in elevation between a city’s lowest and highest points. The larger this number, the more strenuous a ride in the given city could be—but actual strain will vary depending on the route a biker takes. And now, on to our rankings.


US cities with the most bike commuters per capita


  1. Portland, OR
  2. Washington, DC
  3. Minneapolis, MN
  4. San Francisco, CA
  5. New Orleans, LA
  6. Seattle, WA
  7. Philadelphia, PA
  8. Tucson, AZ
  9. Oakland, CA
  10. Denver, CO


1. Portland, OR

Percentage of bicycle commuters 6.3%
Population 648,121
3+ feet passing distance laws Yes
Miles of protected bike lines 29.0
Miles of other bike lanes 207.7
Elevation range 393 meters

Portland boasts the highest percentage of bike commuters of any US city, in part because Oregon lawmakers and city planners do what they can to accommodate riders: the city has nearly 240 total miles of bike lanes and comprehensive bike safety laws. Add Portland’s brisk climate into the equation, and you’ve got one of the best cities in the nation for avid cyclists who aren’t afraid of a little rain.

2. Washington, DC

Percentage of bicycle commuters 5.0%
Population 693,972
3+ feet passing distance laws Not reported
Miles of protected bike lines 2.3
Miles of other bike lanes 21.0
Elevation range 132 meters

Washington, DC is the second-most congested city in the US6, so biking instead of driving can actually save time on your daily commute. DC might not have the most bike lanes on our list, but the city’s public transit system makes up for this shortcoming7. Cyclists can combine their bike routes with a metro ride to commute further than they could by just riding their bikes.

3. Minneapolis, MN

Percentage of bicycle commuters 3.9%
Population 422,326
3+ feet passing distance laws Yes
Miles of protected bike lines 95
Miles of other bike lanes 70
Elevation range 88 meters

Minneapolis is home to 22 lakes and a sizeable stretch of the Mississippi River8, so cyclists can map their daily commutes to include scenic waterside views. The city’s elevation range is also one of the lowest on our list—if you commute by bike in Minneapolis, you may be less likely to show up to work sweaty and out of breath.9

4. San Francisco, CA

Percentage of bicycle commuters 3.1%
Population 884,363
3+ feet passing distance laws Yes
Miles of protected bike lines 30.9
Miles of other bike lanes 152.5
Elevation range 283 meters

San Francisco’s cost of living is infamously high, so many people who work in the city have to commute from other parts of the Bay Area. Commuting this distance by bike might seem like an unrealistic option, but the area’s public transit system, like DC’s, allows cyclists to commute from further away by hybridizing their bike rides with travel by train and bus.

5. New Orleans, LA

Percentage of bicycle commuters 2.9%
Population 393,292
3+ feet passing distance laws Yes
Miles of protected bike lines 8.2
Miles of other bike lanes 59.4
Elevation range 73 meters

Another riverside city, New Orleans offers scenic rides for cyclists commuting along the Mississippi River or through the historic French Quarter. New Orleans can get extremely hot and humid in the summer, but the city’s level terrain (almost!) guarantees you won’t be sweating too hard when you get to the office.


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6. Seattle, WA

Percentage of bicycle commuters 2.8%
Population 724,764
3+ feet passing distance laws No
Miles of protected bike lines 9.5
Miles of other bike lanes 98.0
Elevation range 149 meters

Seattle has over 150 rainy days every year,10 so you might think it’s not a good city for cyclists. However, with the sixth-highest percentage of bicycle commuters in the country, Seattle is home to a thriving community of committed cyclists who don raincoats and ponchos to brave the elements on their way to school and work.

7. Philadelphia, PA

Percentage of bicycle commuters 2.6%
Population 1,580,863
3+ feet passing distance laws Yes
Miles of protected bike lines Not reported
Miles of other bike lanes Not reported
Elevation range 114 meters

Philadelphia gets so congested during rush hour that it’s often faster to bike to work than it is to drive through the city. And since Philadelphia’s cost of living is much lower than San Francisco’s, those who work downtown may be able to afford apartments and homes near enough to make biking feasible without additional public transit. Philly also has its own biking advocacy group called the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia.

8. Tucson, AZ

Percentage of bicycle commuters 2.5%
Population 535,676
3+ feet passing distance laws Yes
Miles of protected bike lines 0
Miles of other bike lanes 7
Elevation range 259 meters

With only seven total miles of reported bike lanes, Tucson might not seem like a safe option for bike commuters.

The city solves this problem with “The Loop,” a paved trail that stretches over a hundred miles, which cyclists and pedestrians can use to get around Tucson without worrying about cars.11

9. Oakland, CA

Percentage of bicycle commuters 2.3%
Population 425,204
3+ feet passing distance laws Yes
Miles of protected bike lines 0
Miles of other bike lanes 13
Elevation range 537 meters

In addition to its high percentage of bicycle commuters, Oakland is also home to the Scraper Bike Team, a community that teaches young people how to fix and build bicycles from old parts to encourage self-expression and ingenuity. The Scraper Bike Team also customizes and decorates bikes, which it sells from its youth-operated bike shop, The Shed.

10. Denver, CO

Percentage of bicycle commuters 2.2%
Population 704,621
3+ feet passing distance laws Yes
Miles of protected bike lines 12.3
Miles of other bike lanes 330.0
Elevation range 146 meters

With over 340 miles of bike lanes, Denver is one of the most bike-accessible cities on our list even though it sits in tenth place in terms of actual bike commuters per capita. These numbers may increase, though, thanks to a Denver nonprofit called Bikes Together, which offers bicycle access and education to grow Denver’s cycling community.


We based our rankings solely on the percentage of bike commuters in the largest US cities according to data from the US Census Bureau’s 2017 American Community Survey. We didn’t factor the other data points mentioned throughout into our rankings, though this information is important to each city’s bike-friendly culture.


  1. United States Census Bureau, “Commuting Characteristics by Sex
  2. United States Census Bureau, “Census Bureau Reveals Fastest-Growing Large Cities
  3. The League of American Cyclists, “2018 Benchmarking Report,” p. 256
  4. The League of American Cyclists, “2018 Benchmarking Report,” p. 353
  5. The League of American Cyclists, “2018 Benchmarking Report,” p. 353
  6. INRIX, “Washington DC
  7. U.S. News, “What’s It Like to Live in Washington, DC?
  8., “13 Ways to Enjoy Our River & Lakes
  9. U.S. News, “What’s It Like to Live in San Francisco, CA?
  10. The Weather Channel, “Seattle’s Rainy Reputation Is Well-Deserved
  11., “Map of the Loop Trail

Complete data set

Rank City State Percentage of bicycle commuters Population
1 Portland OR 6.30% 648,121
2 Washington DC 5.00% 693,972
3 Minneapolis MN 3.90% 422,326
4 San Francisco CA 3.10% 884,363
5 New Orleans LA 2.90% 393,292
6 Seattle WA 2.80% 724,764
7 Philadelphia PA 2.60% 1,580,863
8 Tucson AZ 2.50% 535,676
9 Oakland CA 2.30% 425,204
10 Denver CO 2.20% 704,621
11 Boston MA 2.20% 683,015
12 Sacramento CA 1.80% 501,890
13 Honolulu HI 1.70% 350,388
14 Chicago IL 1.70% 2,716,462
15 Pittsburgh PA 1.40% 302,414
16 St. Paul MN 1.40% 306,604
17 New York City NY 1.30% 8,622,698
18 Buffalo NY 1.20% 258,592
19 Mesa AZ 1.20% 496,395
20 Atlanta GA 1.20% 486,299
21 Austin TX 1.20% 950,714
22 Baltimore MD 1.10% 611,648
23 Anchorage AL 1.10% 294,356
24 Santa Ana CA 1.00% 334,135
25 San Diego CA 1.00% 1,419,488


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Stories Contributed by N. Morgan



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    Total 3 comments
    • Rockledge

      I ride a bicycle. But my IQ is over 75 and I have good enough sense to know to not play in traffic.
      I ride at night, on a country road that has little traffic. And when a car comes, I get off into the grass.
      Way off. Because I am intelligent enough to know that a bicycle is no match for a car.

      The city I escaped from before cities turned into ghettos has imbeciles on bicycles playing in traffic all the time.
      And of course, some of them, as you would expect, become road pizzas.
      I have no sympathy for them, my only thought when it happens is “another wart off of societies ass”.

      Anyone stupid enough to think a retard helmet and leotards is going to protect them from the damage thousands of pounds of vehicle can do to a human body is a fool, and is asking for whatever the results of their ill informed decision brings them.
      Ignorance is its’ own reward.

      Be safe. Ride on paths or on roads where the speed limit is under 25 and stay to the side of the road, out of the lanes intended for cars. To do otherwise is to risk becoming a statistic.

    • Slimey

      I like bikes. I like doughnuts too.

      But one thing I NEVER do is ride a bike in traffic (dedicated bike trails OK) or eat doughnuts and drive. :lol:

    • Man

      Oh noes you have fallen for Agenda 21!!!!

      Remember all those conspiracies that the UN is implementing Agenda 21 and force bikes onto people? That was a shocker

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