University of Minnesota

Access Across America: Biking 2017

About the study


This first-of-its-kind research ranks the 50 largest (by population) metropolitan areas in the United States for connecting workers with jobs via bicycle.

The study incorporates traffic stress and cycling comfort in its evaluation of access to destinations by bicycle. According to the study, low-stress routes are separated bike lanes and paths. Medium-stress routes include all bike infrastructure — low-stress facilities plus on-street unprotected bike lanes, certain shared lanes, and mixing with traffic on some non-arterial streets.

Many cities exhibit different rankings between their low-stress and medium-stress job accessibility metrics. For example, Philadelphia places 5th by low-stress access, but only 13th by medium-stress access. Minneapolis–St. Paul places 12th by low-stress access and 7th by medium-stress access. Generally, residents in Philadelphia who are only willing to bike on low-stress facilities reach more jobs than those on low-stress routes in Minneapolis, but residents in Minneapolis willing to travel on all bicycle facilities reach more jobs than those in Philadelphia.

The metropolitan areas that perform the best when comparing medium-stress access to the maximum-possible bike access are Minneapolis–St. Paul, San Francisco, and Portland. All have bicycle networks that, on average, allow their residents to reach more than 74 percent of the job opportunities theoretically available to cyclists (if all routes felt as safe as an off-street path).

The report presents detailed accessibility values for each metropolitan area as well as block-level maps that illustrate the spatial patterns of accessibility within each area. It also includes a census tract-level map that shows accessibility patterns at a national scale. The following detailed interactive color maps illustrate jobs accessible by bicycle in each metro area.

Top 10 metro areas for job accessibility by biking, medium stress

map of Twin Cities bike accessibility, Medium Stress

Accessibility to jobs by bicycle in Minneapolis–St. Paul

  1. New York
  2. San Francisco
  3. Chicago
  4. Denver
  5. Washington, D.C.
  6. Portland
  7. Minneapolis
  8. Seattle
  9. Boston
  10. San Jose

More Information

The research is sponsored by the National Accessibility Evaluation Pooled-Fund Study, a multi-year effort led by the Minnesota Department of Transportation and supported by partners including the Federal Highway Administration and 12 additional state DOTs.

The Accessibility Observatory is a program of the Center for Transportation Studies.