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People for Bikes releases city bikeability ratings

Brooklyn and Berkeley top U.S. rankings for safe and accessible city biking.

PeopleForBikes has released its 2021 City Ratings, a data-driven analysis of more than 750 cities and communities across the globe. The City Ratings use metrics that evaluate and compare the best cities and towns for bicycling, as well as provide city leaders with actionable insights to make biking better in their communities.

Topping this year’s ratings in the United States are Brooklyn, NY; Berkeley, CA, and Provincetown, MA (each ranking first in the large, medium and small city categories, respectively). Top international performers include Canberra and Alice Springs in Australia; Utrecht and Groningen in the Netherlands and Gatineau, Longueuil, and Montreal in Canada, all located in the province of Quebec.

A normal day in Utrecht, Netherlands. Photo: Pro Photo Supply

What do all top performing cities have in common? Strong bicycle networks — the systems of interconnected bike lanes, paths, trails, and safe streets that make bicycling an enjoyable and effective means of transportation.

“We focused on bicycle networks because research shows that the best cities for bicycling have safe, comfortable, connected bike networks that allow riders to access the places they need to go, like work, school or local businesses,” said Kyle Wagenschutz, vice president of local innovation at PeopleForBikes. “It really is as simple as, ‘If you build it, they will come.’ Building better bike infrastructure is the key to increasing ridership, improving safety and working towards equitable mobility.”

This year’s ratings draw from two key factors: the quality of the bicycle network in a region (Network Score) and community perceptions of bicycling (Community Score). The first is sourced from the PeopleForBikes Bicycle Network Analysis, the second from online surveys submitted by local residents and advocates about bicycling in their city.

This year’s ratings grew to include 660 cities in the United States, including 150 newcomers. PeopleForBikes also expanded the program to measure bicycling in 11 countries, including Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

“With our expanded ratings, bicycle advocates can now see results from cities with a long history of excellence in bicycling like Utrecht, and cities like Paris that are rapidly improving their bicycle network,” said Wagenschutz. “Incorporating international cities into City Ratings enables us to compare progress in U.S. cities to bicycling around the world.”

City Ratings allows PeopleForBikes to identify the actions cities must take to improve bicycling locally. Those lessons are being compiled and shared via the organization’s Advocacy Academy, an online video series and resource library for city leaders, decision-makers, and advocates.