Bicyclists socializing in the Pettaway area of Little Rock, Arkansas.

PeopleForBikes’ 2023 City Ratings Compares 16 Arkansas Cities for Bicycling

Gudrun - Northwoods Trails

PeopleForBikes, the U.S. bicycling industry’s trade association, and a national advocacy nonprofit, announced the results of its seventh annual City Ratings, a comprehensive ranking of cities based on the quality of their bike networks. 1,484 U.S. cities were rated for 2023, the most in program history, up from 1,106 in 2022 and 510 in 2019. 249 international locations were also rated across Europe, Canada, and the U.K. For 2023, the top-scoring small, medium, and large U.S. cities for bicycling are Provincetown, Massachusetts; Davis, California; and Minneapolis, Minnesota. 

This year, PeopleForBikes ranked 16 Arkansas cities (listed below). That’s up from 14 in 2022. Centerton and Searcy were added this year. Another change for this year is that Bentonville has moved from a small city (<50,000 population) to a medium city (50,000-300,000 population). Arkansas has no cities in the large city rankings. If your town or city is not listed, People for Bikes offers this tool to get it ranked next year. See last year’s rankings here.

There are many reasons why a city should want to be a great place to ride a bicycle. Here are some of the most important:

  • Health benefits: Bicycling is a great way to get exercise, and it can help people of all ages stay healthy. Studies have shown that bicycling can reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, obesity, and some types of cancer. (more)
  • Environmental benefits: Bicycling is a low-carbon form of transportation, and it can help to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. (more)
  • Economic benefits: Bicycling can boost local economies by increasing retail activity and property values. (more)
  • Safety benefits: Well-designed bike infrastructure can make streets safer for everyone, including cyclists, pedestrians, and motorists. (more)
  • Social benefits: Bicycling can help to promote social interaction and community building. (more)

In addition to these benefits, bicycle-friendly cities are often seen as more attractive and livable places. This can lead to increased tourism and a more vibrant economy.

PeopleForBikes’ City Ratings is an annual, data-driven program to identify, evaluate, and compare the best cities and towns for bicycling. Each city receives a City Ratings score on a scale of 0-100. A low score (0-20) indicates a weak bike network, meaning the city lacks safe bikeways or there are gaps in the network. A high score (80-100) indicates that most common destinations are accessible by safe, comfortable bike routes that serve people of all ages and abilities. For larger cities, a score of 50 is the tipping point to becoming a great place to bike. 

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223 Best Places to Bike.

Based on data from PeopleForBikes’ Bicycle Network Analysis (BNA), high-scoring cities often perform well across six factors captured in the acronym SPRINT: safe speeds, protected bike lanes, reallocated space for biking and walking, intersection treatments, network connections, and trusted data. 

“While cities may differ in their paths to becoming great places to bike, the six SPRINT factors are foundational to building safe, connected, and comfortable bike networks,” said Rebecca Davies, PeopleForBikes’ City Ratings program director. “Every city needs more protected bike lanes, safer intersection crossings, and a modernized approach to street design that works better for everyone, no matter how they choose to travel.” 

New to the City Ratings website for 2023, a city comparison tool allows users to directly compare scores between two cities as well as compare a city’s score over time. Also included are featured comparisons of top-scoring small, medium, and large U.S. cities as well as international cities, highlighting the similarities and differences in what makes a place great for bicycling. 

Minneapolis, Minnesota, saw a tremendous increase in its score over last year, improving 31 points between 2022 and 2023, landing at the #1 spot in large U.S. cities for this year. Other notable score improvements include Longmont, Colorado, which edged its way into the top 10 medium cities, improving its score from 36 in 2022 to 59 in 2023. Milwaukee, Wisconsin, not only improved its score from 25 in 2019 to 45 in 2023 but also helped Wisconsin see a substantial rise in ridership as well. Eco-Counter data shows that ridership growth in the state outpaced the rest of the Midwest region: On the weekends, there are 20% more rides happening across Wisconsin than there were in 2019 and weekday rides are up 27%.

Bicyclists crossing the Main Street Bridge from Little Rock into North Little Rock.
Bicyclists crossing the Main Street Bridge from Little Rock into North Little Rock.

More than just data, PeopleForBikes utilizes its City Ratings program to benchmark cities’ progress on improving the quality and connectivity of their bike networks as well as establish best practices for city leaders, decision-makers, and advocates to identify improvements to be made in their communities. 

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“The creation of safe, fun, and connected bike infrastructure is a key component of our long-term vision to become the best place in the world to ride a bike,” said Jenn Dice, president, and CEO of PeopleForBikes. “In 2019, only 35 U.S. cities scored above 50. In 2022, that number grew to 78 cities. This year, 97 U.S. cities were rated as great places to bike. By providing local leaders with the tools to increase their City Ratings score through better bike infrastructure, we can continue this momentum and create even more great places to ride across the country.” 

Arkansas does not currently have a city with a score above 50. PeopleForBikes offers a road map to help cities improve and become the best place to ride a bike. Follow the link on the city names to see more about the score and specific things that the city can do to improve.

2023’s Best U.S. Cities for Bicycling 

Small Cities (<50,000 population) 

  1. Provincetown, Massachusetts: 88 
  2. Crested Butte, Colorado: 87 
  3. Blue Diamond, Nevada: 85 
  4. Murdock, Nebraska: 84 
  5. Ashland, Wisconsin: 80 
  6. Jackson, Wyoming: 79 
  7. Aspen, Colorado: 75 
  8. Shorewood, Wisconsin: 74 
  9. Ashland, Oregon: 70 
  10. Mifflinburg, Pennsylvania: 69 

Arkansas Small Cities

Medium Cities (50,000-300,000 population) 

  1. Davis, California: 77 
  2. Ankeny, Iowa: 74 
  3. Berkeley, California: 72 
  4. Boulder, Colorado: 68 
  5. Corvallis, Oregon: 63 
  6. Hoboken, New Jersey: 62 
  7. Plainfield, New Jersey: 61 
  8. Ames, Iowa: 60 
  9. La Crosse, Wisconsin: 59 
  10. Longmont, Colorado: 59 

Arkansas Medium Cities

Fleet Feet Little Rock, now hiring.

Large Cities (>300,000 population) 

  1. Minneapolis, Minnesota: 68 
  2. San Francisco, California: 63 
  3. Seattle, Washington: 62 
  4. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 57
  5. Portland, Oregon: 56 
  6. New York City, New York: 55 
  7. St. Paul, Minnesota: 51 
  8. Washington, D.C.: 45 
  9. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: 45 
  10. Detroit, Michigan: 42

[The photo at the top of the page is from the Little Rock Monday night Pedal Party during a stop in the Pettaway section of town]

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