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Every city is wonderful in its own way. Each has its own distinct personality, culture, and identity that separates it from the rest, leaving its mark on our great country. While no city can be definitively labeled “the best” as everyone’s needs and tastes are a little different, these five cities are standouts for their bicycle infrastructure. They are leading the charge for more bike-friendly living by building bike-specific amenities and safety features, having businesses catering to bicyclists, and offering incentives for people to ditch their cars and go green.
This list is not inclusive as there are many awesome bike routes in every city, but here are some of the best bike routes you can enjoy in the USA’s five bike friendliest cities!
The Burke-Gilman Trail: a 20-mile-long route that takes you from Golden Gardens Park on the Puget Sound all the way to Sammamish River Trail in Bothell, just off the northern tip of Lake Washington. Highlights include Golden Gardens Park, the Fremont Troll, Gas Works Park, the University of Washington, and a beautiful trip along Lake Washington.
Cheshiahud Lake Union Loop: a multi-use loop that takes you around the entirety of Lake Union, connecting with the Burke-Gilman Trail for the northern section and branching off between the University and Fremont bridges. Highlights include Gas Works Park and Lake Union Park.
Seattle Waterfront Trails: an over 5-mile collection of trails taking you from Magnolia on the northern side of Elliott Bay, through downtown Seattle, and down near Harbor Island. Highlights include Myrtle Edwards Park, Olympic Sculpture Park, Pike Place Market, CenturyLink Field, and Safeco Field.
New York City
Central Park: a 6-mile bike route that loops around the entirety of Central Park. Highlights include the Central Park Zoo, the Bethesda Terrace, Belvedere Castle, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and so much more!
Five Boro Bike Tour: a 40-mile annual bike tour that attracts tens of thousands of cyclists to take a traffic-free ride through New York City’s five most iconic neighborhoods: Manhattan, Harlem, the Bronx, Queens, and Brooklyn.
Manhattan Waterfront Greenway: a 31-mile bike route that takes you along the entire edge of Manhattan. Highlights include the One World Trade Center, Battery Park, The Riverside Church, and many other Manhattan staples.
Southeast Neighborhoods: a 13-mile ride through historic Portland neighborhoods with the return route taking place along the lovely Willamette River. Highlights include Tideman-Johnson Park, Oaks Bottom Wetlands, and Oaks Park (where there's a ferris wheel!).
North Portland Trails: a flat, 19-mile series of trails located on the northern end of the city that showcases the beauty of nature within Portland’s city limits. Highlights include Kelley Point Park, University of Portland, and the Smith and Bybee Lakes Natural Area.
Northeast Ramble: a 15-mile ride through Portland’s Neighborhood Greenways (streets with low traffic volume where bicycles and pedestrians are given priority). Highlights include the Alameda Ridge, Rocky Butte, and Joseph Wood Hill State Park.
The Wiggle: a 1-mile route with plenty of zigs and zags taking you from the northeastern part of the city to the Panhandle of Golden Gate Park. Highlights include the Painted Ladies (just off the route), Sue Bierman Park, and Golden Gate Park.
The Embarcadero: a 3-mile long, waterfront bike path around San Francisco’s northeast coast that gives you access to many of the city’s biggest tourist attractions. Highlights include AT&T Park, Fishermans Wharf, the Exploratorium, and a large number of San Francisco’s piers where you can get unparalleled views of the Bay.
Marina Bay Trail: a 3-mile route along the city’s northern coast that gives you an exceptional view of the Golden Gate Bridge. Highlights include Crissy Field, Ghirardelli Square, the Wave Organ (just off the path), and the San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park.
North Shore Channel Trail: a 3.5-mile route along the Chicago River with a mixture of suburban and natural landscapes. Highlights include the Skokie Northshore Sculpture Park, the Ladd Arboretum, and Legion Park.
Green Bay Trail: a 9-mile trail starting in Glencoe and follows the water down to Gillson Park. Highlights include the Chicago Botanical Garden, the Baha’i House of Worship, and Northwestern University (just south of the trail).
The 606: a 3-mile elevated bike trail loaded with a bevy of food and drink options just northeast of Humboldt Park. There are too many highlights to list here, so you might as well just check out this Thrillist article.
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The top five cities were collected from this bicycling.com article.
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