Bicycling magazine has ranked D.C. number four on its list of best cities for cyclists, a nine-place leap for the city, which ranked at 13 last year:

There is no clearer evidence of the urban-cycling revolution sweeping the United States than in the nation’s capital, where ridership jumped 80 percent from 2007 to 2010. The District opened the country’s first automated bike-share system, constructed separated bike lanes on key downtown corridors—including the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue linking the White House and Capitol Hill—and installed more than 1,600 bike racks.

The sole commenter really, really disagrees, though:

Has anyone doing the voting/ranking actually ridden in DC? We moved to the DC area in part because of the number of bike trails and perceived bike friendliness, but the reality is far less rosy. Awful traffic, badly fractured bike corridors and overcrowded off-street multi-use paths that cross multiple major intersections far too often make anything other than simply trying to commute to work an exercise in futility. The reality is, if your aim is to commute by bike, the infrastructure is good enough to make most commutes under six miles as fast by bike as they are by any other mode of transport (including by car), however cycling for recreation (especially if you’re aiming for serious fitness) is just not all that great. And urban and suburban sprawl make getting to good training roads nearly impossible. The people working to make things better are certainly trying and strides have been made, but head to: http://bikewashington.org/routes/on-road.htm and you’ll see that there is only one road bike route listed that even crosses into the beltway. Then check out: http://bikewashington.org/routes/work.htm for ‘after work’ rides – of which, only three actually enter the district. Maybe I’m spoiled from riding in New England, Chattanooga, TN and Gainesville, FL – all much less populated area, but having also ridden some in Portland, the culture in DC just isn’t even in the same league.

I mostly use my bike for commuting/getting around town quickly, but this take on recreational bike use brings up a good point: What kind of cycling are we talking about here?

Photo by nevermindtheend via Flickr/Creative Commons Attribution Generic 2.0 License

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