New Ranking: Fort Collins, Boulder, Colorado Springs Better Than Denver for Biking

One of America’s most respected bike advocacy groups just ranked Fort Collins, Boulder, and Colorado Springs ahead of Denver for bicycling.

As Streetsblog USA’s Angie Schmitt reported Friday, PeopleForBikes has a new system to compare biking in cities across the country. The data-driven approach mixes cities of all shapes and sizes, but controls for geographic area so cities with far-flung boundaries like Denver aren’t disadvantaged.

Shout out to Fort Collins, which PeopleForBikes ranked first in the country, and Boulder, which came in third. Colorado Springs came in 23rd and Denver came in 27th, behind cities like Cleveland and Tucson. (Note that scores are rounded for simplicity, and the order in which cities are listed reflects the full, un-rounded score.)

Here’s how Denver ranked in the five categories making up its overall score:

  • Ridership: 16th
  • Safety: 125th
  • Network, or how well connected the bike system is: 82nd
  • Reach, or how easy it is for people of every age and ability to bike: 122nd
  • Acceleration, or how quickly cities are improving bikeability: 55nd

Ridership is obviously a strong suit for Denver — the only one — despite a poor showing in other areas. These rankings aren’t entirely surprising given the 26 people who have lost their lives biking in the city since 2005, according to Denver PD.

The island of a bikeway on South Broadway isn’t helping the city’s connectivity or progress scores, and a tepid pace on protected bike lane installation isn’t helping its “reach” score.

Still, no ranking like this is ever definitive. For example, while recreational cycling is weighted low in this analysis, it does count for something, and that could skew the results in favor of Colorado Springs. Denver should be focused heavily on biking for transportation.

The rankings were wrought from a bevy of qualitative and quantitative data. PeopleForBikes analyzed surveys from city officials and the public, measured bike infrastructure in miles and quality, pulled commuting habits from the Census, and gauged safety using local and national databases that track injuries and deaths.

What’s your experience? Do these rankings ring true?