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Chicago cracks top 15% of nation’s 200 best biking cities in new study

Naperville also made the top 200, coming in at spot 123, according to the study.

People bike around Montrose Harbor as temperatures rise above 80 degrees Fahrenheit, Tuesday afternoon, April 27, 2021.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Chicago offers a lot to bicyclists but comes up short in certain areas such as year-round climate and safety, according to a new study that ranks it 30th out of the 200 best biking cities in the U.S.

The study, done by LawnStarter, tabulated an overall score (out of 100 possible points) for 200 different U.S. cities using four metrics: access, climate, community and safety. Access looked at things like miles of bike lanes per square mile and local ride-sharing programs (such as Divvy). Community was gauged through a city’s bike clubs, bike tours and the share of workers who bike to work.

Chicagoans can blame climate for why the city is sitting in 30th place despite having higher access and community scores than other cities that ranked higher. Snowy and icy winters don’t allow for safe bike riding for about a quarter of the year.

Safety is also a metric Chicago did not score well in, contributing to the 30th ranking. Cyclists and pedestrian have been calling for the city to make changes to existing bike lanes to create safer paths for everyone. Less than a week ago, musician and actor Kevin Clark was hit and killed while biking in Avondale at an intersection cyclists have long said is incredibly dangerous.

Earlier this month, transportation commissioner Gia Biagi said Chicago’s cycling plan is “a decade old” and that updates are necessary, floating the idea of installing more raised bike lanes throughout the city.

Chicago isn’t the only Illinois city to crack the top 200. Naperville comes in at spot 123, with high marks for community, specifically.

Below are the top 15 cities in the rankings. Read more about the methodology used and check out the full top 200 list here.

  1. San Fransisco, California
  2. Portland, Oregon
  3. Fort Collins, Colorado
  4. Eugene, Oregon
  5. Minneapolis, Minnesota
  6. Seattle, Washington
  7. Washington, D.C.
  8. Salt Lake City, Utah
  9. Boise, Idaho
  10. Boston, Massachusetts
  11. Vancouver, Washington
  12. St. Paul, Minnesota
  13. Tempe, Arizona
  14. Hayward, California
  15. Fremont, California