Bicycling Magazine has published its list of the Top 50 most bike friendly cities in America. I’m not sure how credible this list is, or what it proves, or tells us. (Click on map above to view an interactive version.)
For example, top of Bicycling’s list is Minneapolis, with Portland, Oregon bumped to second place. Does that mean that Minneapolis is a slightly better, safer, or more pleasurable place to ride a bike? Only someone who has recently ridden in both places could answer that, and that’s not me.
I think a more accurate list is the one compiled by The League of American Bicyclists. (PDF File.) For starters this is an organization that pre-dates even the automobile; so they have been doing longer.
The League awards Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Bronze Medals to cities based on several different criteria, like Engineering, Education, Encouragement, Enforcement, and Evaluation.
So let’s compare the cities as viewed on these two lists. The League of American Bicyclist has only three Platinum standard cities; Portland is one of them, shared with Boulder, Colorado, and Davis, California. Minneapolis on the other hand has Silver Medal status.
The Bicycling Mag’s list includes Boston, MA and Miami, FL; neither of these cities has made it to the League’s list yet.
Also yet to make it to the League's list is my own adopted home town of Charleston, SC. However, it made it onto Bicycling’s list.
Whereas, there are three League Bronze Medal cities on South Carolina; these are Columbia, Greenville, and Spartanburg. None of these cities are included on the Bicycling map or list.
It appears that Bicycling is awarding points for trying; I know for example that Charleston is trying hard to improve and encourage cycling, and become more bicycle friendly. The same can be said for Boston and Miami, which is great news.
But trying doesn’t win the race, and these places have a long way to go to reach the standard of Boulder, Davis, or Portland. The danger is you start putting cities on a list as being cycling friendly before they have made it, and some people might just stop trying.
What is your view?