The Best Bike Cities in North America: Seattle, Washington

You don’t have to give up the amenities of a large urban environment just because you prefer traveling on two wheels over four

Seattle, Washington.     Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The birthplace of Starbucks coffee, Seattle is also home to some of the most cycle-enthused people in North America. Even Mayor Michael McGinn, a former Sierra Club leader, cycled to campaign events during the 2009 mayoral election in his suit and tie.

McGinn has supported Seattle’s Bicycle Master Plan, which has led to the investment of nearly $36 million in bicycle improvements since its adoption in 2007. The Plan has supported the creation of bike signs, 2,230 new bike parking spaces, and 129 miles of bike lanes. The goal of the BMP is to construct 450 miles of bike lanes in Seattle by 2017.

Seattle’s weather is temperate, which lends itself nicely to biking. Like many parts of the West Coast, Rain City’s winters are damp, but they're nothing that some rain gear won’t rectify. This is why you’ll find cyclists of all stripes riding on city streets year-round.

Seattle is known for being a green and active city. There is plenty of hiking, skiing, rock climbing and water sports activities nearby to while away the hours. Visitors can take a trip around the Burke-Gilman Trail that follows the coastline for 18 paved miles. Leave your bike at the base and go up to the top of the Space Needle for a panoramic view of the city. Then ride over to the Pike Place Market, where you can see fish fresh from the ocean tossed back and forth before being placed on ice or filleted.

The Cascade Bicycle Club, a local bicycle advocacy non-profit organization with more than 14,000 members, operates out of Seattle. They put on the Seattle Bicycle Expo, the largest consumer bicycle trade show in North America, every year. Their Bike Smart Seattle program encourages bicycling through educational campaigns and materials. They’ll even send a bicycle ambassador to your door to hand you a bicycle information kit that includes safety information, a bicycle map, and an event calendar. The city also contracts the Bicycle Alliance of Washington to distribute 20,000 Seattle Bicycling Guide Maps per year to cyclists and motorists alike. Knowing that everyone’s in the loop will put your mind at ease when you wheel through this city.

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