Bicycling Magazine has named Seattle the “best bike city in America.” Seattle typically places fairly high on the magazine’s list, which is based on editorial judgment and comes out every two years. But Seattle has not been picked as the top city in a long time (Zosha Millman at the Seattle PI reports that the last time Seattle won was 1990).
So what put Seattle over the top this time? Well, the magazine has a whole list of reasons, including the city’s recent high-quality downtown bike lanes, the city’s role in private bike share innovation, the number of women who bike here, and our great cycling community.
The photos alone are worth checking it out (not to mention that yours truly was interviewed for the feature). I especially like the mini profiles at the end.
Seattle is an amazing place to get around by bike, and everyone out riding is doing so for their own reasons and finding joy in their own ways. Riding a bike is such an intimate way to get to know your city, and the same geography that makes Seattle challenging at times to navigate by bike also makes the city endlessly rewarding to explore.
Of course, Seattle has a lot of work to do, and Mayor Jenny Durkan’s administration has so far been putting the brakes on many of the qualities the Bicycling Magazine feature so admires about our city. Downtown bike lanes have been delayed. Other Vision Zero road safety projects have been extremely watered down or are under threat. And bike share innovation has seemingly stopped, with the number of companies operating down from three to just one and the city unwilling to try new ideas like scooters.
It doesn’t need to be this way. The city could easily modify its bike share permit to encourage innovation. And the city already has great plans and significant funding to make huge improvements to connect communities with a safe and inviting bike network. It just requires political will and leadership.
But it’s also important to simply enjoy the city, even if you know there is so much work to be done. Sure, this list might be very subjective and prone to big swings (the last city to claim the top spot, Chicago, is now down at number six), but it’s a good reminder that Seattle is a really special place. So get to know it a little bit better by riding a bike.
Seattle ticks all the boxes on cyclists’ wish lists. Scratch that, the Emerald City doesn’t check the boxes, it crushes them. Crazy smart infrastructure? Definitely—you can ride a protected bike lane from the Space Needle nearly two miles to Pioneer Square, with features like bike-specific traffic lights to make your cruise even safer. The most passionate bike advocates in the country? Absolutely—elected leaders have actually taken DOT staffers to task for not building lanes fast enough. An awesome community? Of course—there are thousands of events throughout the city designed to satisfy any inclination a rider could have.