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Streetsblog's Take on Bicycling Magazine's Bike-Friendliest Cities Ranking

Despite Inaccurate Numbers, Bicycling Magazine’s Demotion of Chicag...

Chicago has seen fewer major bike achievements over the past two years, while the negative aspects of riding here haven’t improved much. Therefore Bicycling has demoted our city to sixth place, which I’d argue is a more realistic rating. While in many respects Chicago is a good place to ride, I’m guessing many local cyclists would agree that it’s generally a less safe, convenient, and pleasant to pedal here than the peer cities that bested us this year. (Fort Collins has about 1/19 the population of Chicago, so it doesn’t really count.) Here are the full top-ten rankings:

  1. Seattle
  2. San Francisco
  3. Fort Collins
  4. Minneapolis
  5. Portland
  6. Chicago
  7. Madison
  8. Eugene
  9. New York
  10. Cambridge

(DC is #11)

I feel a fair amount of irritation with the yearly assessment. I don't feel Bicycling Magazine did an adequate amount of work in researching, interviewing, etc. What are your thoughts?

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I agree with John's assessment in Streetsblog - Chicago doesn't deserve #1. Bicycling Magazine should do better than this and commit some resources to a deeper dive. This assessment seemed rushed and limited to me. I wish they would stop skimming the surface. Cities have significant issues to address and I don't think a puff piece on ranking (and very limited interviews) is helpful. I look at Chicago and DC and 2018 was not a good year with the number of bike-related deaths. Chicago's issue with construction, lack of accountability and enforcement, etc. DC's lack of infrastructure and enforcement of bike lanes has had tragic consequences. Sure, there's great stuff in both cities but we need to look at the warts/areas for improvement. The report left me feeling irritated at best. I don't really take stock in this assessment as a true indicator of anything.

Agreed.

How does the lack of infrastructure in DC manifest itself, in your view? I have ridden in DC only a few times on visits, but I felt like the infrastructure was comparable. That PBL down Pennsylvania (I think?) is awesome-looking. But you have more experience so I'm curious.

I think it is cool that Chicago is still ahead of Madison, New York and Cambridge.  Those are cities that aggressively promote bicycling.  Maybe not with the useless PBLs we have in Chicago, but with genuinely bikeable streets, bridges and promenades.  You have to be a committed urban cyclist to enjoy biking in New York...but what other American city offers such diversity, culture and attractions within a few miles?

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