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Best Commuting Cities (Where you at?)

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Best Commuting Cities (Where you at?)

Old 10-19-07, 09:50 AM
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davemarchese
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Best Commuting Cities (Where you at?)

So I've been traveling a lot and noticing the bike infrastructure and number of commuters in each city. Unscientifically here's what I've found:

Columbus OH - Great MUP between downtown and the OSU area. Several commuters w/ panniers and fenders

Minneapolis, MN - WOW! tons of commuters and a MUP/dedicated lane system that seemed to go forever

Phoenix, AZ - Great dedicated lane system on the north side of town, didn't seem to get much use.

Denver, CO - Probably top 10 in the country on design and use

NYC - Surprising number of brave souls dealing with cabs and other traffic

Houston, TX (My home)- almost no one doing much commuting, but really not a bad town for it. there are some great MUPs and dedicated lanes, but they don't seem to connect up.

Where is everyone from and what towns have you seen that seem friendly?

Dave

PS I searched for a post like this and couldn't find it. If it already exists, please direct me to it.
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Old 10-19-07, 09:59 AM
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nyc--great fun.
beantown too but crazier.
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Old 10-19-07, 10:36 AM
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Kansas City and surrounding areas - Gotta be out of your mind (like me) to do it. We have stroller-and-mile-long-leash paths, not MUPs. And they are scenic and don't actually go where people really need to go for transportation. They're just there so that people can drive half a mile to ride their bikes in the shade while dodging moms, kids and dogs.
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Old 10-19-07, 11:12 AM
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La Quinta California was great. Both Highway 111 and Washington were very wide with plenty of room for bicycles, freshly paved smooth asphalt surfaces and few traffic lights. And there were no serious changes in elevation and gentle slopes when it did change.

San Diego was pretty good too, but the mesa and canyon topography led to some serious climbing.

Now I'm in Little Rock. The roads are hilly, narrow and potholed. There is a very strong car culture so the drivers tend to be intolerant of bicycles. It drove me into participating in the local bicycle advocacy group.
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Old 10-19-07, 11:15 AM
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Rochester.

Or at least it seems that way to me.
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Old 10-19-07, 11:23 AM
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Boston has an interesting combination of MUPs, bike lanes, wide and narrow city streets (some smooth, some filled w/ holes). It can be really hit or miss. I come in from the north to South Station and it is all city streets with quite a bit of traffic and a couple of tight bridges, but it beats driving.
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Old 10-19-07, 11:24 AM
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I'll second the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. I travel there for work quite often and am always impressed with the riding conditions.
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Old 10-19-07, 11:31 AM
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I wouldn't call DC a great commuting city- it has lots of good bike paths but is also fairly un-bike-friendly on the roads. But at the same time, the quality of life to be gained by switching from the car to the bike is pretty significant, due to the horrendous traffic in the area.

To wit- the two commutes I've had in the area:

#1
Bike- 25min each way
Car- 10 min morning, 20-30 min evening

#2
Bike- 45-50min each way
Car- 30min morning, 40+min evening

So for a small additional time outlay each day, I gain a solid amount of exercise and don't have to sit in traffic.
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Old 10-19-07, 11:48 AM
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See sig for my town. And I think its OK...drivers in my fair city have (believe it or not) been quite courteous and accommodating.

Of places I've visited (on business)...Tucson, AZ HAS to be THE most bike friendly/accessible city.

There are bike lanes and nice shoulders EVERYWHERE. See: https://dot.tucsonaz.gov/bicycle/

I'd move there...I could get used to the heat.
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Old 10-19-07, 12:03 PM
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Denver is amazing. MUPs everywhere, called greenbelts. They run through every neighborhood.

I commute to work 15 miles, 5 of which are on road, the rest on MUPs. When on the MUPs I NEVER cross a road. Eventually 3 miles of road will be cut out and the MUP will connect in the middle, but for now I have to take a connection via road.

It's super well maintained, and I can take the MUp all the way from the s.e suburbs to downtown. Pretty cool, and the bike lanes are really awersome, though not widespread enough for my liking.

Lots of people on bikes, many dedicated roadies and MTB'ers and lots of commuters.
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Old 10-19-07, 12:06 PM
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University Place and Tacoma Washington (Bridgeport, 6th ave, the North End and Downtown) work good for me, bike paths here and there, haven't had any trouble with drivers. I have Seen quite a few riders, good times! The Steilacoom area close by has some awesome “as far as you wanna go rides” too! All in all Tacoma is good!
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Old 10-19-07, 12:10 PM
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Despite the common complaints, I'd say Chicago is pretty good. Our mayor is a big bike rider and bike advocate. In the last few years there have been a lot of bike lanes created in the city. Regular drivers are very tolerant as bikes riders plentiful and growing. No one has yelled at me or buzzed me.

On the downside, cab drivers are generally jerks. They are bad enough when you have to share the road when driving a car. When you're on a bike the whole "major injury/fatality" quotient goes up a lot. Clueless folks driving in the city while talking on the cell phone is pretty common too. They normally aren't being mean, just stupid. Of course their attitude towards us probably doesn't really make getting hit any less painful. Oh yeah, and that whole winter thing w/ blizzard like winds.
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Old 10-19-07, 12:11 PM
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Sunnyvale, Mountain View, and Palo Alto, CA.

I've been commuting for a good 8 months now and there are bike lanes on most of the streets. On the streets that there are no bike lanes, most drivers are courteous/knowledgeable enough to give cyclists lots of room when they pass. On the weekends some of the streets, especially in Palo Alto, are filled with roadies and various other cyclists. Its almost bicycling heaven here.
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Old 10-19-07, 12:17 PM
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As a cycle commuter I've lived in Chicago, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Nashville. Would rate Chicago as the best and Pittsburgh as the worst. Chicago was flat and while not 'cycle friendly' at the time things were readily accessable from the saddle. Plenty of side strreets running parallel to main boulevards if one wanted to deal w/stop signs instead of traffic. According to some posts here on BF Chicago has embraced cycle commuting w/t addition of bike lanes and commuter routes. And R. Daily, Jr. is an avid cyclist, which helps alot.

Cleveland is similar to Chicago as far as terrain is concerned and being a lakefront city the weather is similar. The main streets, at least on the east side are pretty wide. It's been years since I lived there so things may have changed quite a bit along the lakefront. It used to be pretty scarey. My commutes were in the east 'burbs and none of them are particularly cycle friendly tho relatively flat.

Nashville, where I currently reside is a river town and I commuted for about 4 years here 20 mpd. My commute was ok...all urban w/plenty of space curbside for the most part. In and around Vanderbilt things get a little dicey, especially on 21st Ave where there is NO curbside space AT ALL. East Nashville seems to be getting there as there's a pedestrian bridge w/a bike lane on Shelby ave that wasn't there when I was growing up. But the uptown area is not for the faint of heart or commuting novice...narrow one way streets everywhere. I'm about 35 mi outside of NV now and my commute is 40 mpd(when the factory ramps back up) all rural. Plenty of curbside space and not many cars...I'm very blessed.

Pittsburgh...what can I say? It's a tough town. The cycling community is narrow, but deep. Kind of like the roads and the ruts. There's a sense of pride in being a cycle-commuter or messenger in the 'Burgh. I'd venture the toughest bike messengers in the world all hang out on the South side of Pittsburgh. Where if you have a derailleur you're either a rookie or a p***y. Having only been to SF/Oak once on business I can't imagine the hills being any more difficult there. There's a race on the last Saturday in November called the Dirty Dozen. 13 hills within 5 miles of city center on a 50 mile course. The easiest is 17-18% grade and the most difficult is 37% The race motto is: No money, No medals, no mercy...THAT'S Pittsburgh.
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Old 10-19-07, 12:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Artkansas View Post

San Diego was pretty good too, but the mesa and canyon topography led to some serious climbing.
You get used to the mesas and canyons, the only real issue the canyons and mesas cause is that there may only be one road to access some area... and it may not be a bike friendly road.

But the So Cal car culture is pretty strong and motorists love to drive fast around here... sometimes you want to just brain the motorists that don't even bother to look.

Some of the newer areas of town have nice wide BL and are fairly well connected. MUPs tend to be isolated and somewhat incomplete... kinda almost getting you "somewhere."

The thing that really is nice is the weather... year round biking in little rain, and no snow... really this place should be biking heaven... except "nobody walks in LA..." the drivers can be hell on wheels.
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Old 10-19-07, 12:35 PM
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Originally Posted by climbhoser View Post
Denver is amazing. MUPs everywhere, called greenbelts. They run through every neighborhood.

I commute to work 15 miles, 5 of which are on road, the rest on MUPs. When on the MUPs I NEVER cross a road. Eventually 3 miles of road will be cut out and the MUP will connect in the middle, but for now I have to take a connection via road.

It's super well maintained, and I can take the MUp all the way from the s.e suburbs to downtown. Pretty cool, and the bike lanes are really awersome, though not widespread enough for my liking.

Lots of people on bikes, many dedicated roadies and MTB'ers and lots of commuters.
The MUPs there sound a lot like what I found in Oulu Finland... it was an incredible system really devoted to moving people around on paths. Great bridges, good shortcuts and lots of below road grade MUPs... MUPs that went under intersections so that you never slowed down. The infrastructure was complete too, you could go everywhere by bike... even some places you couldn't go by car. The center of town was closed to autos. Autos had to take somewhat circuitous routes to get to places you could go directly by bike. These were wide MUPs too... 8-9 feet easily. Now if it just wasn't so freakin' cold there...
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Old 10-19-07, 12:46 PM
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Originally Posted by mtnwalker View Post
Sunnyvale, Mountain View, and Palo Alto, CA.

I've been commuting for a good 8 months now and there are bike lanes on most of the streets. On the streets that there are no bike lanes, most drivers are courteous/knowledgeable enough to give cyclists lots of room when they pass. On the weekends some of the streets, especially in Palo Alto, are filled with roadies and various other cyclists. Its almost bicycling heaven here.
Yep, almost bike heaven, because to get to bike heaven you must go north, to marin county.
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Old 10-19-07, 12:46 PM
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Originally Posted by genec View Post
You get used to the mesas and canyons, the only real issue the canyons and mesas cause is that there may only be one road to access some area... and it may not be a bike friendly road.

But the So Cal car culture is pretty strong and motorists love to drive fast around here... sometimes you want to just brain the motorists that don't even bother to look.

The thing that really is nice is the weather... year round biking in little rain, and no snow... really this place should be biking heaven... except "nobody walks in LA..." the drivers can be hell on wheels.
I understand. I had some great commutes in San Diego. My commute between Kensington and Mira Mesa was a couple of steep hills in and out of Mission Valley and then a nice long flat zip up Kearny Mesa. Another went from Sorrento Valley to Kensington via Genesee. (genec?) That ride was a great conditioner with Genesee's rolling hills. My commute from Ranch Penasquitos to Sorrento Valley was great, half of it down the center of the Los Penasquitos Nature Reserve. I don't think I'll ever top that one.

So Cal has a very enthusiastic car culture, but they aren't nearly as intolerant as Arkansans. I think they love their cars more, but they are more open to other lifestyles and more tolerant of bicyclists. Arkansas doesn't have quite the vibrant car culture, but motorists can't imagine other ways to get about and are less tolerant of lane obstructions. And the roads are older and narrower, so bicycles seem to be a greater obstruction than they do in So Cal.
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Old 10-19-07, 01:22 PM
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No Canadians yet? Well, allow me to contribute...

I live in Calgary, Alberta. It's just north of Montana. The weather here is very similar to what Denver gets, but with much less snow. Calgary is all about sprawl. It's about 50km to drive from one end of the city to the other, and that's a pretty straight route. Still we have barely a million people here. Everyone drives at least part of the way to work, and that's where I encounter them. My commute is 100% on-road, but it's not dicey until I get about 4 blocks from work. Most people are pretty corteous, although I think that has more to do with me dressing like a messenger than anything else [shants + SS FTW]. The thought of me scratching the paint on their new Hummer or BMW keeps them away from me. I worry about bus drivers and worrk trucks a lot more - they don't care what they hit.

There is a somewhat extensive MUP system, but it is frighteningly narrow most of the time. I think it's 8' wide, with two-way traffic. The official speed limit is 20 km/h [12 mph], but I can easily get to 40 km/h on a road bike [as can many other people]. With hairpin turns, blind corners and some dicey bits by the zoo [they find the occasional body down there, and a homeless guy ate an eagle or condor or something that escaped from its pen], it can be very interesting to use it to commute. I avoid it like the plague, favouring regular streets. You have to keep a sharp lookout in the 'burbs [80% of the city], as it's really easy to get mowed down by minivans and SUVs.
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Old 10-19-07, 01:33 PM
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Originally Posted by nashcommguy View Post
I'm about 35 mi outside of NV now and my commute is 40 mpd(when the factory ramps back up) all rural. Plenty of curbside space and not many cars...I'm very blessed.
Hey, I'm a Vandy guy and spend 7 years of my life in Nashvegas. Used to ride from Green Hills to campus on 8th and through neighborhoods.

My inlaws are in McMinnville and we go there once a month. Great roadie riding with some sweet hills. Just take 24 to exit 111, park your car and ride North on 55. Wide shoulder, bike route signs and really friendly folks. They host a 3 day race called the Highland Rim Classic there, and it brings a lot of business through town, so most people are used to/enjoy seeing bikes on the road.

Cheers!

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Old 10-19-07, 01:37 PM
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Thanks everyone for the posts, I'm adding cities to my list for travel.

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Old 10-19-07, 01:42 PM
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Phoenix? Really?


One of the most imporant things to me that makes a city easy to bike in is how close things are relative to each other (how compact the city is). The more compact the city, the more effecient the bicycle as a means of transport. It would seem to me that Phoenix is severely lacking in this area.

The biggest concern for me is the drivers. Friendly alert drivers who know to look for cyclists is what really makes it or breaks it.
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Old 10-19-07, 01:49 PM
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Minneapolis. You are right - the Greenway (MUP thing) goes forever and gets longer each year. Not for riding on at night, however. While the city puts in bike/ped paths everywhere, they forget the lights.
I will never need a car as long as I live here.
I also lived in Portland, OR for a while and found it to be even more bike-friendly than Minneapolis, or at least the bikers there are more active about their rights - my favorite Portland event: the naked midnight ride. I wasn't able to participate when I lived there, but they all rode right by my work, so I got to stand on the sidewalk and watch hundreds of beautiful naked bikers.
I wish Minneapolis had that.
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Old 10-19-07, 02:49 PM
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Chicago:

Not bad they try very hard to promote bike commuting and have bike laned streets that go almost anywhere you need to go. There is also a pretty good population of bicycle commuters, including myself. At the very least all these efforts make it clear that cyclists have a right to be on the roads.

It would be nicer is Trucks and JAM's didn't drive and double park in the bike lanes. Also the wintertime weather makes it more difficult, especially if you absolutely hate the cold like me. Also some of the suburbs are a challenge.
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Old 10-19-07, 03:24 PM
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Redmond, WA.

The whole east side of Seattle, really. Redmond, Bellevue, Issaquah, Sammamish, Bothell, Woodinville. Even part of Monroe, and down into Hobart and North Bend and Fall City.
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