Last month’s international ranking of the best biking cities in the country didn’t include a single United States city. Amsterdam, Copehagen and a slew of other European cities topped the list, but nothing in the states.
However, when it comes to competing amongst ourselves, San Francisco fairs pretty well. Bike Score just ranked our city the second most bikeable in America. Portland, we’re coming for you!
The rankings take in a number of factors, including number of bike lanes, route options, destinations you can get to on your bike, and the one we scored lowest in—hills. With a score of 70, San Francisco was just edged out by Portland, 70.3, which rocked it with higher ridership and flatter terrain. Denver came in a respectable third, 69.5, and won out for its pancake terrain.
The heat map above shows the most bikeable areas in San Francisco in green and most challenging biking spots in red. From the perspective an every day bike rider in San Francisco, this data seems a bit skewed. Hills weigh very heavily, while there’s no designation for different types of bike lanes. SoMa scores as the best neighborhood to bike in San Francisco, but anyone who pedals on the thin Howard or Folsom street lanes with huge trucks barreling past you, knows that biking in SoMa is no paradise.
While San Francisco scored high in the larger cities, our smaller neighbors of Berkeley and Davis pedaled right past us in rankings. Berkeley came in at a 95 and Davis a perfect 100. Unlike other rankings, Bike Score compares cities of like sizes, rather than lumping us all together, which seems logical. While we can learn a lot from Davis, the truth is a dense city and a sprawling college town have inherently different biking conditions.
Bike Score is intended to give perspective renters and homebuyers an idea of what neighborhood to live in. It’s great to see bikeability being a factor in peoples’ decision on where to live, the ranking should also be taken lightly. After all, if you move to SoMa for the ease of biking, you’ll get a pretty rude awakening when you try to ride down 6th street or Mission to get work. And I’d take a commute through the Presidio (noted as a red zone) over some of the green zones any day.