With pleas to increase cycling road safety, it’s clear the world cares about its cyclists staying safe. So, the team at Your Local Security went to work studying US cycling data to discover the safest and least safe cities for cyclists in the country.
- Most of the Top 10 safest cities for cyclists are in California and other west coast states. The fact that Davis, Calif., is the safest city for cycling may be a testament to city leaders’ careful planning and bicycle education safety.
- Iowa dominates the majority of least-safe cities for cyclists in the US, even with the popular Ragbrai biking event being hosted in The Hawkeye State.
- Despite being a west coast city, Los Angeles is one of the least safe cities. Why isn’t Southern California as safe as Northern or Central California?
- Missoula, MT had over 7% of residents report that they use cycling as a main method of transportation to get to work (#6 out of the cities we researched), yet Montana got a 0 for each of our bike law categories.
- 36 cities that currently have no protected bike lanes have either proposed or are currently working on building protected bike lanes.
- Alaska has some of the highest spending per capita ($9.71) despite the fact that they have very low percentages of commuters who bike (1.5% in Anchorage and 0% in the other cities we researched).
10 Safest Cities
- DAVIS, California
- BERKELEY, California
- BOULDER, Colorado
- EUGENE, Oregon
- PALO ALTO, California
- CHICO, California
- MOUNTAIN VIEW, California
- FORT COLLINS, Colorado
- SANTA BARBARA, California
- NEW HAVEN, Connecticut
10 Most Dangerous Cities
- LOS ANGELES, California
- NEW YORK CITY, New York
- WEBSTER CITY, Iowa
- JAMESTOWN, North Dakota
- FARGO, North Dakota
- HOUSTON, Texas
- WATERLOO, Iowa
- SIOUX CITY, Iowa
- JOHNSTON, Iowa
- DES MOINES, Iowa
Each State’s Safest City
|State Name||State’s Safest City||City’s Safety Ranking|
|New Mexico||Santa Fe||540|
|South Dakota||Rapid City||736|
|Utah||Salt Lake City||30|
To determine the safest and least safe US cities for bikers, we gathered metrics and data from Census.gov, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, People for Bikes, and The League of American Bicyclists to find the percentage of bike commuters, number of fatal crashes, amount of bike lanes, and what bike laws are in place or in the works in each city. Cities were included if these sources had data for them.
Each metric was then added together with the following weight based on a 100-point scale:
- Bike commuter: x3
- Fatal crashes: x6
- Protected bike lanes: x1
- Proposed protected bike lanes: x.5
- Complete street law: x1
- Safe passing law: x1
- Statewide bike plan: x1
- Bike safety emphasis area: x1
- Spending per capita: x1
Finally, the total 790 cities were ranked based on their overall score.
Keeping Safe Once You Park
When you ride your bike on city streets, you likely worry about your physical safety. But you may also face the risk of bike theft once you park your cycle in public or at home. In fact, the National Bike Registry estimates there are 1.5 million bikes stolen each year, and many thefts occur at home. For tips on how to help protect yourself and loved ones from bicycle theft, check out our blog, 10 Surefire Ways to Have Your Bike Stolen.
Quotes From the Expert
1. Why is it important for cities to create safe cycling conditions? What can cities do to improve cycling conditions?
Cycling is an increasingly popular method of transportation and recreation in the United States. As the cycling community continues to grow, it is important for individuals to have safe areas to ride their bicycles. Without safe areas to ride, fewer individuals will engage in cycling activities, resulting in a decreased benefit from the low-impact aerobic exercise that cycling provides.
Cities can improve cycling conditions by constructing paved, multi-use trails. These provide safe areas for a cyclist to ride without the fear of collisions with unwary drivers. Current roadway infrastructure can also be modified through the construction of bike lanes to improve cyclist safety. — Tyler Bishop, technical associate at Fezzari.com
2. What should cyclists in dangerous cities know about their cycling safety?
Cyclists in dangerous cites should know that drivers are not looking out for them the majority of the time. When riding in a dangerous area, one should ride aggressively defensive. Cyclists should be on the constant lookout when they are riding for divers who are not paying attention to their surroundings.
As a cyclist, never assume that a driver sees you. When crossing an intersection, don’t just look at crossing signals. Be sure to do a visual check for drivers who may not be focused on a small object, like a cyclist, when they are paying attention to traffic around them. Cyclists in dangerous cities should also use headlights and taillights when riding in the dark. Lastly, signal your intentions as a cyclist. Use the appropriate signals to indicate when you are turning or slowing on your bike. Basically, the more information you can give to divers around you about what you are going to do on your bike the better. — Tyler Bishop, technical associate at Fezzari.com
3. What are the industry trends for cycling as a transportation method vs. a recreational sport?
Cycling in the industry has experienced an increase in the sale of bikes for both transportation and recreational sport over the last decade; however, the increase in recreational cycling sales has been greater.
Cycling groups like the National Interscholastic
Cycling Association (NICA) and other similar organizations (IMBA, as one example) have increased the number of recreational cyclist in the United States substantially. The work of these organizations has led to a greater increase in recreational sales. Other organizations have increased the popularity of cycling for transportation as well, but their impact has been smaller. — Tyler Bishop, technical associate at Fezzari.com