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April 23, 2021

Everything You Need to Know About 2021 City Ratings

By: PeopleForBikes Staff

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Answers to the most common questions around our newly revamped ranking system for bicycling cities, now simpler and international.

Ahead of the release of our annual City Ratings this June, we wanted to answer some commonly asked questions about the program, show you what’s new for 2021 and set cities up for success when it comes to improving bicycling locally.

What is City Ratings?

The PeopleForBikes City Ratings is a data-driven approach to evaluate and compare bicycling in U.S. cities and towns. From there, we help city leaders pinpoint improvements to make biking better for everyone.

What’s new in 2021?

This year, we expanded to feature more than 600 U.S. cities, including 150 brand new to the program. We’ve also gone international! Although the City Ratings aren’t completely global (we don’t rate cities in Africa or Asia, for example), we rated more than 100 international cities in 11 countries worldwide, including Canada and Australia. 

Whereas last year’s scores were rated out of five, we’ve switched to a 100 point scoring system. While a score of 52 might seem low, cities with scores of 50 or more demonstrate higher ridership, improved safety and greater access than their peers. That being said, most U.S. cities will fall short of world-class examples of integrated bicycling in places like Copenhagen and Amsterdam. By offering a comparison to some of the world’s great bike cities, we hope to inspire and motivate others to accelerate their bike infrastructure and programs that get people on bikes.

What else changed this year?

The 2021 City Ratings showcases a new way of calculating scores that emphasizes the importance of building safe, comfortable and connected bicycle networks. We also tweaked our formula to make things simpler and more consistent.

The revised City Ratings incorporates only two inputs: the quality of a city’s bicycle network through its Network Score, and community perceptions of bicycling via the Community Score. The Network Score comes from the PeopleForBikes Bicycle Network Analysis and the Community Score comes from the PeopleForBikes Community Survey.

What is the BNA?

The Bicycle Network Analysis, or BNA, is a data analysis tool that measures the quality and connectivity of a city’s bicycle lanes — in other words, its bike network. A bicycle network is defined as the system of paths, trails and streets that someone riding a bike can use to access everyday destinations, like:

  • Neighborhoods — access to parts of the city where residents live.
  • Opportunity — access to jobs and schools.
  • Essential Services — access to places that serve basic needs, like hospitals and grocery stores.
  • Recreation — access to recreational amenities like parks and trails.
  • Retail — access to major shopping centers.
  • Transit— access to major transit stations.

Interested in improving your city’s bike network? Here’s how:

What is the Community Survey?

Every year, PeopleForBikes conducts an online survey to capture perceptions of biking from people that live, work and play in the cities we’re rating.

The Community Score is based on a 100-point scale derived from four equally weighted scoring categories: Ridership, Safety, Network and Awareness. Answers to questions in these four categories provide valuable insight into how often people ride bikes for transportation and recreational purposes, how safe they feel riding a bike in their community, whether the local bike network helps them reach useful destinations and if they are aware of nearby bicycling resources.

I don’t think my city is included. How can I get involved?

We evaluated a record number of cities across the U.S. for this year’s City Ratings, but there’s always room for more. No matter how you’re involved with bicycling in your city, you can request to have it included in our next round of data collection and analysis.

Add my city

Are you a city leader? Sign up to be notified when our City Snapshot opens to tell us about your city’s existing bike network and planned improvements.

Sign up for the City Snapshot

How can I improve my city’s score?

We’re glad you asked! We created an entire video series through our Advocacy Academy outlining the necessary steps to improving bicycling in your city. From city leaders to bike enthusiasts, we all have a role to play in making biking better for everyone.

How can I benchmark my city’s progress?

We will post a printable scorecard customized for each city on our City Ratings website. While your city’s overall score determines its place in our annual ranking, the scorecard dives into the details of the data to reveal actionable steps local leaders can take to benchmark progress and make improvements.

What can I learn from highly rated cities?

We have an entire Advocacy Academy series dedicated to sharing lessons from some of the best bike cities around the world. In the coming months, we’ll profile even more top-ranked cities based on this year’s scores.

How does your city rank? Check out our 2021 City Ratings and learn how to improve your score.

Related Topics:

How ToBike CommutingBike NetworksCity RidingRecreational Bike AccessBike Safety
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