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Magazine Names Austin Among The Nation's Best Cities For Bicycling

AUSTIN, TX -- Bicycling magazine has ranked Austin the seventh best bicycling city in the nation, up four notches in the biennial list.

bike racks

In its seventh-ranked perch, Austin is sandwiched between Minneapolis one notch above and Cambridge, Mass. in the 8th position. The list names what it deems to be the nation's 50 best cities for bicycling, with Austin the sole Texas city to make the cut.

The magazine touts recent ambitious municipal efforts at making the city more bike-friendly.

"Over the last two years, Austin has unveiled a number of multi-million-dollar public works projects: the iconic Boardwalk that hovers over the Colorado River and became an instant tourist attraction; the 7-mile Walnut Creek Trail that links east Austin with low-income housing, urban farms, and the famed Driveway Series weekly bike race; and a soon-to-be-unveiled bike-ped bridge spanning the 800-plus acre Barton Creek Greenbelt, giving local riders a safe and serene route where they once, literally, had to ride on a freeway," the magazine wrote.

Beyond those high-profile projects, enhancements to on-street infrastructure designed for bicycles also was highly praised by the magazine.

"But while those projects have garnered fanfare and ribbon cutting ceremonies, planners in Austin’s transportation department have quietly upgraded the city’s on-street bike infrastructure at every opportunity," authors wrote. "Recent repaving projects resulted in nearly 10 miles of protected bike lanes, connecting children with schools and senior citizens to parks, and giving bike-riding professionals safe passage through the heart of the city."

There are signs of Austin's efforts to promote bicycling, including the Austin B-Cycle bike rental program, with racks containing the two-wheeled vehicles throughout the city. When a Bike to Work Day is scheduled, a code is given out allowing people a 24-hour membership at no cost.

The city's mass transit system, Cap Metro, features bike racks on all their buses -- commuter and express routes both -- to encourage bike riding among bus riders.

In its own reckoning, the magazine does employ a bit of hyperbole with its prose, claiming a per-capita bicycling community that might be overstated: "More than 10 percent of Austinites who live within 8 square miles of downtown now commute by bike," the magazine reads.

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That's probably overstated, judging from intermittent yet sincere pleas from Mayor Steve Adler urging people to bicycle to work in an effort to relieve the city's infamous congestion. In May 2013, KUT reported on the city's bicycle culture and placed the percentage at 2 percent -- a figure derived from U.S. Census Bureau data.

It's highly doubtful that in a mere three years the city would have reached a full 10 percent. But Jack Sanford of Bike Texas, a statewide non-profit bicycle advocacy and education group, said 2 percent is actually a pretty impressive number for a U.S. city.

Society has a love affair with their automobiles that can actually be more akin to a love-hate co-dependency. So, 2 percent is quite an accomplishment -- all things considered.

The magazine also touted the $50 million allotment that's being set aside in a bond referendum slated for November.

Read the full article and methodology byclicking here.

Following is the full list of the top 50 cities for bicycling, according to the magazine that bears the activity's name:

1. Chicago, IL

2. San Francisco, CA

3. Portland, OR

4. New York, NY

5. Seattle, WA

6. Minneapolis, MN

7. Austin, TX

8. Cambridge, MA

9. Washington, D.C.

10. Boulder, CO

11. Denver, CO

12. Fort Collins, CO

13. Indianapolis, IN

14. Salt Lake City, UT

15. Philadelphia, PA

16. Madison, WI

17. Boston, MA

18. Eugene, OR

19. New Orleans, LA

20. Pittsburgh, PA

21. Oakland, CA

22. Tempe, AZ

23. Tucson, AZ

24. Los Angeles, CA

25. Arlington, VA

26. San Jose, CA

27. Boise, ID

28. Long Beach, CA

29. Gainesville, FL

30. Chattanooga, TN

31. Louisville, KY

32. Saint Paul, MN

33. Grant Rapids, MI

34. Alexandria, VA

35. Albuquerque, NM

36. Cincinnati, OH

37. Sacramento, CA

38. Tallahassee, FL

39. Columbus, OH

40. Miami, FL

41. Cleveland, OH

42. Columbia, MO

43. Atlanta, GA

44. Lincoln, NE

45. Tampa, FL

46. Milwaukee, WI

47. Salem, Ore.

48. Scottsdale, AZ

49. Thousand Oaks, CA

50. Detroit, MI