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Plano rides high on new survey of best U.S. cities for bicyclists

Plano rides high on new survey of best U.S. cities for bicyclists

Bicycles, Blues & Brews
Plano is among the top cities for cycling. Photo courtesy of Hill Country Galleria

While the pandemic continues to limit much of how people live, the Dallas area's abundance of trails have managed to keep things wide open for cyclists. This element and more, according to a new study by SmartAsset, is why one Dallas 'burb — Plano — is one of the top 25 most bike-friendly cities in the nation.

In order to designate which cities in the country are the most bike-friendly, SmartAsset examined 100 of the largest cities via the following five metrics:

  • Bike score. This is a measure of how suitable a city is for biking on a scale of 0 to 100. Data comes from walkscore.com.
  • Percentage of commuters who bike to work. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2018 1-year American Community Survey.
  • Bicyclist fatalities per 100,000 residents. Data comes from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Motor Vehicle Crash Data Querying and Reporting and is for the five-year period from 2014-2018. This figure is measured at the county level.
  • Miles of protected bike lanes. Data comes from PeopleForBikes.org.
  • Income after housing costs. This is the median household income minus median annual housing costs. Data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 1-Year American Community Survey.

Each city in the study was ranked for each metric, with the bike score and five-year bicyclists fatalities per 100,000 residents receiving a double weight, and then they were assigned an overall score. A zero went to cities that weren’t particularly bike-friendly, and a 100 went to the best of the bunch.

Plano rode into the No. 17 spot with an overall score of of 62.26. Only 0.4 percent of its residents bike to work and there are zero miles of protected bike lanes, but Plano has a low fatalities score (.60) and the “income after housing costs” metric is the second highest in the study at $74,976. (San Francisco ranks No. 1 with $87,728.)

Austin tied with Plano at No. 17 in the study’s rankings. Its 19.1 miles of protected bike lanes dwarfed that of Portland, Oregon (5.3 miles) — the one city that scored a 100 in the study, earning the top spot — but it ranked much lower than its Pacific Northwestern companion when it came to how suitable the city is for biking (54.0 to 82.4), the percentage of commuters who bike to work (1.4 percent to Portland's 5.3 percent) and the bicyclists fatalities per 100,000 residents (1.04 to .48).

Plano came in at one point higher than Austin when measured on how suitable the city is for biking.

No other Texas cities made the list.

Plano and Austin may not yet be operating at the bike-friendly heights of the top cities in the study — Portland, Oregon; Minneapolis; Seattle; St. Paul; and Boston round out the top five — but you can definitely hop on your bike and take to both city’s roads with confidence.