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Where DC ranks among best biking cities worldwide

It sometimes feels like there’s a constant struggle between D.C.’s bicyclists and drivers, and at times both cyclists and drivers could be better behaved on the roads. But an international study concluded that overall, D.C. is a pretty good place for bicyclists.

A study conducted by the European insurance company COYA, which bills itself as a company that believes in bicycling and offers specific insurance plans for bicyclists, puts D.C. as the fourth best bicycling city in America. Only San Francisco, Portland and Seattle were ahead.

Worldwide, the District checked in at 52.

“Washington had a higher bicycle usage than most cities in the U.S., it’s actually at 4.6%,” said Bianca Pick, a marketing manager for COYA. That puts D.C. only behind Portland for overall usage.

“It also has the highest safety score in the U.S.. It scored 76.7 out of 100, meaning it has fewer bicycle related accidents and fatalities than other major U.S. cities. That’s definitely a strongpoint considering the car-heavy tendencies of most major U.S. cities.”

But considering so many other international cities rank ahead of the U.S., clearly there’s room for improvement in some areas, and Pick found it.

“Washington didn’t score so well on bicycle infrastructure,” she said.

In fact, only New York scored worse in the U.S. “It also scored low on bicycle sharing.”

No American city scored in the top 38 worldwide, and the top of the list was dominated by European cities, which hints at the major cultural difference that exists when it comes to biking.

“The top cities all have high percentage of bicycle usage,” explained Pick. “For example, the No. 1 city is Utrecht in the Netherlands, and over half the population travels by bike there.

The Netherlands and a lot of other European countries have just always had a famously strong cycling culture. This is due to flat land and small traveling distances, as well as smaller roads than in the U.S. European cities tend to be rather compact compared to the urban sprawl of most U.S. cities.”

“The US is known for its car culture,” Pick said. “Cities are very large in the U.S. and they stretch for miles so with long distances like this and big roads it makes a lot of sense that Americans would prefer to drive over getting on a bike.”

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