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The Rise of Bicycling in Smaller and Midsize U.S. Cities

In part, it's because the roads are less stressful for riders. 
relates to The Rise of Bicycling in Smaller and Midsize U.S. Cities
Flickr user naotoj

Many major U.S. cities have experienced large increases in cycling over the past two decades. From 1990 to 2012, the share of commuters cycling to work more than tripled in New York, Chicago, Washington, San Francisco, Portland, Denver, and Minneapolis, and more than doubled in many more cities. Throughout the country, cities have invested in the expansion and improvement of their bike networks. They've built bike paths and traditional on-street bike lanes, created innovative "cycle tracks" that protect riders from car traffic, installed bike racks on buses and parking at rail stations to facilitate bike-transit integration, launched pro-bike programs such as Ciclovías (open street events) or bike-to-work and school days, and launched bike-sharing systems to make short-term usage convenient and affordable throughout the city.

Although large cities have led the way with bike infrastructure innovations and grabbed the national headlines, bicycling is also on the rise in many small and midsized cities. With a bike share of commuters at 6 percent in 2012, Portland led all large American cities, but lagged behind smaller cities such as Davis, California (19 percent), Boulder, Colorado (12 percent), Corvallis, Oregon (11 percent), and Santa Cruz, California (9 percent). Smaller cities may offer some advantages for cycling because their shorter trip distances are more easily covered by bike, and because lower volumes of motor vehicle traffic make cycling less stressful.