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And the Best City for Bicycling in the U.S. Is...

This university town of 47,000 on the Central Coast of California has also been called by National Geographic the "Happiest Place in America." Is there a relationship between biking and happiness?
June 11, 2020, 10am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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Central Coast California
Sundry Photography

"The third annual PeopleForBikes City Ratings found San Luis Obispo, California, as the top U.S. city for bicycling," reports Kristin Musulinsenior editor of Smart Cities Dive, on June 9.

A total of 567 cities were rated based on 5 factors: Ridership, Safety, Network, Reach (how far the program connects with the community) and Acceleration (how quickly the program is being adopted or improved).

In developing the ratings, PeopleForBikes used data from the American Community Survey and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) Fatality Analysis Reporting System, as well as data received through each city's participation in a PeopleForBikes City Snapshot report,

And the top 20 winners in the U.S are:

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To see how your city scored, go to

As for the best large city to bike in America, the award goes to Toronto, a city of over 2.7 million that scored third, after SLO and Madison.

Investing in bike infrastructure

"Since 2014, San Luis Obispo has had a policy in place to spend at least 20% of its transportation expenditures on bicycle improvements," notes the website describing the top 5 rated cities in the U.S. And as for being a university town, it helps that California Polytechnic State University has a policy that requires freshman to go carfree.

As for San Luis Obispo being rated the happiest place in America, that was in 2011. The bike-friendly label will no doubt wear better.

“This award is a true reflection of our community values for safe, sustainable and multimodal transportation,” San Luis Obispo Active Transportation Manager, Adam Fukushima, told KSBY News.

“Creating a bicycle friendly community requires a partnership and commitment from city leaders and members of the community. The rating from PeopleForBikes is a great way to honor that hard work.”


Launched in 1999 as Bikes Belong, PeopleForBikes includes both an industry coalition of bicycling suppliers and retailers, as well as a charitable foundation. They invite cyclists to join PeopleForBikes now to become part of the movement.

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Published on Tuesday, June 9, 2020 in Smart Cities Dive
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