The Most Bike-Friendly City in Colorado is...

June 2013

Coloradans won’t argue with the League of American Bicyclist’s recent decision that our state is one of the best for cycling. With scores of gorgeous rides, 300 days of sunshine, and the American answer to the Tour de France winding over our mountian passes, Colorado is becoming a cyclist’s paradise. Let us join hands and lead the nation to a two-wheeled promise land.

But don’t count on any kumbayas when discussing which city rolls out the pavement for cyclists best, especially if you're talking to someone from Denver, Fort Collins, or Boulder. Coloradans take the same hyper-local pride in their bike lanes that they take in their microbreweries. The arguments for a city’s bike prowess are fierce and the evidence is anecdotal, especially with the addition of a few IPAs at the local brew pub. 

Luckily, Bike Score put its quantified rankings into the mix last month. The verdict? Denver is on its way to becoming one of the top big cities for biking in the country, but the eco-utopias to the north are still doing circles around the Mile High City.

Fort Collins and Boulder easily put larger metro areas to shame. FoCo earned a 78 out of 100 and Boulder earned an 86 out of 100, putting it four points away from the category of “cycling paradise.” This analysis is far from perfect, but a quick comparison of the Bike Score maps suggest that Boulder beat out Fort Collins because it has a greater number of people who bike to work (or at least claim to on their census).

Bike Score is an offshoot of the popular website Walk Score, which uses mapping data to give a score to cities, neighborhoods, and addresses. With this year’s rankings, Bike Score examined four factors: the number of lanes and trails, bikeable destinations, topography, and bikers on the street. Denver came out with a 69.5 (out of 100). It just beat out Portland and San Francisco, but surged ahead of New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia . Out of cities with a population greater than 500,000, Denver is now the #3 bike city in the nation.

So, congrats to Boulderites. For the moment, you can claim the title of best bike city in Colorado as long as you buy Bike Score’s methodology. But with the Tour de Fat around the corner and Denver counting itself among a different class of cities, don’t expect anyone to cede their opinion to data.

—Image courtesy of Shutterstock