Bikeshare, new bike lanes make DC one of the best cycling cities in US

Thanks to an expansion of the number of protected bike lanes, adding access to Capital Bikeshare and new efforts to promote bike safety for elementary school students, D.C. is one of the best places to ride a bike in North America, according to a survey by a cycling advocacy group.

PeopleForBikes released its third annual PlacesForBikes city ratings on June 9, with the District being named the fourth most bikeable city in the U.S. and fifth among all the cities ranked by the survey.

The top five cities were:

  • San Luis Obispo, California
  • Madison, Wisconsin
  • Toronto, Ontario (Canada)
  • Santa Barbara, California
  • Washington, D.C.

The District, with a score of 3.2 out of 5, is one of the best large cities to ride a bike in, coming in behind only Toronto, which has almost 2.75 million people, while D.C.’s population is about 700,000.

Only Denver, Colorado and Portland, Oregon ranked as high as the District among large American cities.

PeopleForBikes allowed cities to self-report their data for one segment of the analysis, which included a questionnaire asking for things like miles of different types of bike lanes, bike share access and parking for bikes, safe crossings for bikes, the number of injuries related to cycling and how often their cities host events like Bike to Work days and open streets events.

The ratings are designed to show a snapshot of a city’s ridership, safety, cycling network, acceleration (or expansion) of that network and its reach, or how well the cycling programs serve the overall community.

Rebecca Davies is PeopleForBikes’ network and mapping specialist. She said the cities that ranked highest are those with “strong historical investments in active transportation as well as cities pursuing ambitious plans to rapidly implement high-quality bicycle networks.”

About 550 cities in the U.S. and Canada were involved in the survey.

Jeff Marootian, director of the District’s Department of Transportation, said D.C. “has made incredible strides,” in expanding its infrastructure for safe cycling under the administration of Mayor Muriel Bowser.

The District’s plan for the future includes another 20 miles of protected bike lanes by 2022, according to a news release prompted by the city’s inclusion in the PeopleForBikes ranking.

Upcoming projects in D.C. include the following:

  • The crosstown bike lane between Columbia Heights and Brookland;
  • Adding to the northern segment of the Metropolitan Branch Trail, which will connect Union Station to Silver Spring, Maryland;
  • The Brentwood bike lane, which adds access to Union Market along New York Ave. NE;
  • Adding protected bike lanes to the new span linking Anacostia and the area close to Nationals Park on South Capitol Street.

In addition, D.C. has boosted enforcement of vehicles blocking bike lanes by photographing violations and issuing $150 tickets.

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Dan Friedell

Dan Friedell is a digital writer for WTOP. He came to the D.C. area in 2007 to work as digital editor for, and since then has worked for a number of local and national news organizations.

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