People for BikesPeople for Bikes

June 21, 2024

This Michigan Tourist Destination is the Best Place to Bike in the U.S.

By: Jack Foersterling, editorial content manager

Biking related image

New this year, Mackinac Island ranked #1 overall in our 2024 City Ratings.

Photo Credit: Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau

Since 2018, PeopleForBikes’ City Ratings program has identified, analyzed, and compared the best cities and towns for bicycling in the U.S. and abroad. For 2024, we scored 2,300 cities across the U.S. and nearly 200 cities throughout the U.K, Australia, and Europe.


This year’s City Ratings feature 816 new U.S. cities, including a brand new #1 city for bicycling — Mackinac Island, Michigan.

A small historic island located in Lake Huron off the coast of northern Michigan, Mackinac Island is perhaps best known for one of the main reasons it scored so well in our City Ratings — no motorized vehicles are allowed. The ban was originally enacted in 1898 after residents complained that the arrival of the new “horseless carriages” were dangerous and scared their horses. Today, the ban is still in place, and residents and visitors of the island travel by foot, bike, or horse-drawn carriage.

“The no vehicle aspect is really nice. You don’t have to worry about traffic,” jokes Steph Castelein, who works as the content manager for the island’s tourism bureau. “A lot of people don’t leave the downtown area, but there’s so much to explore. People have been coming back for years and are always finding something new.”

While the island itself is only 3.8 square miles in size, 80% of Mackinac is a state park and is home to more than 70 miles of trails to explore, including an 8.2-mile coastal trail that circumnavigates the perimeter of the island.

Mackinac Island’s lack of vehicular traffic and 19th-century charm have made the small Michigan town a major national tourism destination, with the year-round population of around 600 welcoming nearly 1 million visitors each year. Earlier this year, Mackinac took home the #1 spot on USA Today’s list of the best summer travel destinations in the U.S. for the second year in a row.

While not every city may be fortunate enough to have more than 125 years of car-free streets to its name, there are still valuable lessons to be learned from the small island off the tip of Michigan’s mitten.

“It’s interesting, for those that live here full-time, it’s just the way it is. We don’t have to think about it,” says Castelein. “We ride our bikes to get our groceries home, our kids get to school on bikes — it’s become so normal to use bikes for transportation.”

Creating a culture of biking doesn’t happen overnight, but with the proper dedicated efforts investing in infrastructure and enacting policies that make choosing to go by bike an easy, safe, and accessible option, you’d be surprised how quickly people will leave the car at home and opt for the joys and conveniences of riding a bike. 

Want to support bike infrastructure and policies that can help transform your community into a great place to ride a bike? See how your city scored in this year’s City Ratings and explore our Great Bike Infrastructure Project to find a project that needs help in your backyard.

Background Image
How You Can

Take Action

Donate Now

Bring Better Biking to Your Community
  • Stories

P.O. Box 2359
Boulder, CO 80306

People for BikesPeople for Bikes

Let's stay in touch. Join our newsletter:
People for BikesPeople for Bikes