Ride the Best Urban Bike Paths in America
America. Pioneer of the National Highway System, home of Motor City, inventor of the drive-thru and cup holder.
Scratch that. How about America, Land of Cyclists?
Yes, they do love cars, pickup trucks and SUVs in America. And yes, the country is nowhere close to the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Sweden or Norway when it comes to bicycles per capita. But the winds of change have come.
The United States, in fact, has about 100 million bicycles for a population of 313 million people and somewhere in the ballpark of 32% cyclists. Again, not the Netherlands (1 bike per person, 99% cyclists) but not far behind China and, as a result, the top 10 in the world for bicycle penetration.
Everyone dumps all over America for astronomical obesity rates and urban plans that defer to dirty cars and trucks over anyone who dares don a pair of trainers (hello Atlanta, Orlando and Dallas). But take a closer look at the likes of New York City, San Francisco and Seattle and the fact is that many a city in the U.S. has made pedal-power a priority. With that, have a look at some of the best urban bike scenes and paths in America.
New York City cyclists – Photo credit
New York City
We think of Manhattan as a hotbed of vehicular congestion but the Big Apple – Queens, Staten, Brooklyn, Bronx and all – is very progressive on the bicycle transport front. To wit, the city has a terrific online resource for prospective pedlars. Moreover, bike path maps can be had for free at the city bookstore at 22 Reade Street, between Tribeca and Chinatown.
Top bike paths in New York City include: Brooklyn from Red Hook to Manhattan Beach; the Manhattan waterway loop; bayside Douglaston in Queens.
Where to stay: Distrikt Hotel New York City An Ascend Collection Hotel
The City by the Bay was made for two-wheel transport and has a sublime array of eye candy to enjoy from the saddle. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency estimates that locals make a total of 128,000 trips by bicycle every day and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition promotes the active urban lifestyle. Bonus: all city buses come standard with bicycle racks.
Top bike paths in San Francisco include: The Embarcadero; Angel Island; Downtown to Ocean Beach.
Where to stay: Fairmont Heritage Place Ghirardelli Square
From NoCal to the Pacific Northwest, a part of the country with scenery so spectacular that it begs you to hop on a ten-speed. Like the good, progressive city that it is, Seattle has a first-rate urban grid for cyclists to navigate.
Top bike paths in Seattle include: Burke-Gilman and Sammamish Trail; Ship Canal Trail; Chief Sealth Trail.
Where to stay: Pan Pacific Hotel Seattle
As green and urbane a city as you will find in America away from the coasts, Austin is a welcome anomaly in conservative Texas. The SXSW host is home to seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong and duly has a dynamic bicycle culture.
Top bike paths in Austin include: Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail; Shoal Creek Hike and Bike Trail.
Where to stay: Travaasa Austin Resort and Spa
The capital of the Rocky Mountain State may not be as avant-garde as Boulder but for a big city, Denver is a star, with 80 miles of multi-use trails and 40 miles of bike lanes.
Top bike paths in Denver include: Greenway Trail; Cherry Creek Bike Path.
Where to stay: Denver Magnolia Hotel
Bicycles in Portland: perhaps the most prevalent clichÃ© about the Rose City (see Portlandia spoofs on YouTube). The Portland Bureau of Transportation has a simple online guide for residents and visitors.
Top bike paths in Portland include: Vera Katz Eastbank Esplanade; West Side Hill; Blue Lake Regional Park.
Where to stay: Monaco Portland A Kimpton Hotel