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Houston rolls out a surprising ranking on list of bike-friendly cities in the U.S.

Houston rolls out a surprising ranking on list of bike-friendly cities

cyclist bicycle woman on boke
Houston may be better for cyclists than we think. Photo by Getty Images

Houston is a bona-fide car town, but how does it rank for biking?  A new survey on bikeability gives Houston a fairly decent — and somewhat surprising — ranking for that cycling life. In a list of the top 50 cities in the U.S., Houston ranks No. 29 and boasts a bikeability score of 49.

Drilling down, that means the Bayou City has 0.3 percent of workers who commute by bicycle, a little below the average city's 0.5 percent, with 0.4 bike shops per 100,000 people and 0.3 percent bike trails per 100,000 people.

In a little good local news, the pivotal M-K-T Bridge has reopened, as CultureMap reported, meaning an open path for thousands of bikers each day. And the city has a new bike festival to celebrate all things two wheels.

The study was released by Clever, a real estate data company, and analyzed data from the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Transportation, U.S. National Centers for Environmental Information, Walk Score, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, Vision Zero Network, Google Trends, and Yelp.

Elsewhere in Texas
Austin made a good showing, riding in at No. 16, with a bikeability score of 54. It has 0.7 percent of workers who commute by bicycle, easily exceeding the average city's 0.5 percent, with a respectable 1.1 bike shops per 100,000 people and 1.4 percent bike trails per 100,000 people.

San Antonio was No. 30 on the list with a bikeability score of 45. It has 0.2 percent of workers who commute by bicycle compared to the average city's 0.5 percent, with 0.7 bike shops per 100,000 people and 0.8 percent bike trails per 100,000 people.

Dallas, however, scored No. 50, making it the least bike-friendly city in the U.S. Dallas' bikeability score was 49 out of a possible 100. Dallas has 80 percent fewer bike commuters than the average city, and only 0.1 percent of Dallas workers commute by bicycle compared to the average city's 0.5 percent.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the West is best when it comes to bike-friendly cities — one-third of the 15 most bike-friendly cities on the list are on the West Coast. California is the best state for bicyclists, with 27 percent of the top 15 cities located in The Golden State.

Portland, Oregon is the No. 1 most bike-friendly city, despite its reputation for rain, with a bikeability score of 83 out of 100. It has the most bicycle shops per capita (3.5 per 100,000 residents) of any city on the list.

Additionally, workers in Portland are four times more likely to commute via bicycle than workers in the average city: 2 percent of workers in Portland commute to work by bicycle, compared to 0.5 percent in the average metro studied.

The top 10:

  1. Portland
  2. San Francisco
  3. San Jose
  4. Minneapolis
  5. Sacramento
  6. Denver
  7. Washington DC
  8. Boston
  9. Salt Lake City
  10. Seattle

New York just almost made the top 10, coming in at No. 11.

Cities that rank highly not only have bicycle resources such as bike share stations and bike rental shops, they also promote transit safety: Nearly every city in the top 15 has made a city-wide commitment to bicycle safety and transit safety in general.

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that cities across the U.S. saw a surge in cycling traffic after the pandemic began, prompting a bicycle shortage, as many Americans found cycling to be a reprieve from at-home isolation or a socially distant solution to their commutes.

Cycling is seen as a good way to get a low-impact workout while also reducing your transportation costs, and the 15 most bike-friendly cities have also fostered interest in cycling and bike-related activities.