Cycling to the office builds a workout into your day, slashes your gas budget, and reduces your carbon footprint. If you’ve been commuting on four wheels instead of two because you don’t own a bike, then you may be surprised to learn just how much your city is doing to hook you up with a sweet, pedal-powered ride.Dozens of cities now have bike-share programs—or are about to launch them—so you can ride from Point A to Point B, hassle-free. Simply pay for a single ride or an ongoing weekly ($15 to $25) or annual subscription ($65–$95) and cruise from kiosk to kiosk. You’ll have about 30 to 60 minutes for each trip (after all, it’s a bike share, not a rental) and don’t forgot your helmet; most cities require you to wear one by law.As awareness and demand for two-wheelers grows, many bike-friendly cities plan to add more bike lanes and racks. Find out if your town is rolling with the trend by checking out our list of America’s top bike-commuting cities.
San Francisco, California
Over the course of the past five years, the number of bike commuters in San Francisco has jumped 71%. The city aims to have 20% of commuters doing so by bike come 2020, according to the SFMTA’s Bicycle Count Report. To reach this goal, Bay Area Bike Share will launch this August with 700 bikes (350 on the Bay Area peninsula and 350 in San Francisco itself). That may seem like relatively few bikes, but the SF Municipal Transportation Agency estimates the city and surrounding neighborhoods could handle between 6,000 and 10,000 bikes and plans to best new bicycles add another 300 by early 2014.Cost: Annual Membership ($88), 3-Day Pass ($22), 24-Hour Pass ($9);bayareabikeshare.com.
Portland has long been one of America’s most bike-friendly cities (Men’s Fitness ranked it “Fittest City” this year, for good reason). According to the 2011 American Communities Survey, more than 17,000 commuters cycle to the office. It doesn’t have a bike-share program yet, but one is on the way. Alta Bicycle Share will launch Portland Bike Share in spring 2014. In the meantime, Portland is still ideal for any cycling commuter. With 328 miles of lanes, off-street paths, and trails already in place, the City of Portland’s Bicycle Plan passed in 2010 promises bikeway expansion to 630 miles by 2016 and 962 miles by 2030.Cost: To be determined; portlandoregon.gov/transportation/5798.
Connecting three major neighborhoods to downtown Boston, Hubway Bike Share Program’s true beauty lies in its regional spread of more than 100 kiosks citywide. The Cambridge and Somerville areas have some of the highest bike-commuter populations in America, with 7% and 5% of people riding to work, respectively. (FYI: the nation’s average is less than 2%). And though the Brookline area isn’t as popular for bike commuting, transportation officials are adding more bike racks in its commercial zones as well as more lanes and shared lane markings on major roads to improve regional connection. Cost: Annual Membership ($85), Monthly Membership ($20), 24-Hour Pass ($6), 3-Day Pass ($12); thehubway.com
Miami Beach, Florida
Not surprisingly, Miami Beach’s year-round balmy temps and oceanfront paths make for prime cycling. And locals utilize 75% of Miami Beach’s Decobike share. (Other cities’ bike-share programs cater mainly to tourists.) Despite its high cost of living, Miami Beach has the lowest rate of automobile ownership in Miami-Dade county, according to Colby Reese, co-founder and CEO of Decobike. Miami Beach operates 100 kiosks with 1,000 bikes connecting to Surfside and Bay Harbor Islands, and will add 50 more stations and at least 500 bikes in downtown Miami by early 2014.Cost: Various Monthly Memberships for Residents; Various Hourly and Monthly Rates for Visitors — decodebike.com/miamibeach.
New York, New York
With almost 600 bikeable miles already in place, the city finally launched its much-anticipated Citi Bike share program this past spring. NYC plans to go from 311 kiosks to 330 by midsummer, and within two years, have 600 in place. The fleet started with 6,000 bikes strong and should reach 10,000 in two years. The Citi Bike program may soon spread to outlying neighborhoods in the five boroughs such as Williamsburg, Greenpoint, and Long Island City.Cost: Annual membership ($95), 7-Day Pass ($25), 24-Hour Pass ($10); citibikenyc.com.
Twin Cities, Minnesota
The land of 10,000 lakes is no doubt one of the chilliest places to cycle outside, but that didn’t stop the Twin Cities from launching one of America’s first metropolitan bike-share programs back in 2010. Currently 1,500 bikes and 170 kiosks connect St. Paul, Minneapolis, and select suburbs, and are available to ride from April to November. In 2012, roughly 35,000 commuting trips were taken on foot and bike, and over the past five years, the Twin Cities has seen a 56% increase in bike commuters. Nice Ride, another bike-share group, added 24 new stations this year, and according to executive director Bill Dossett, the organization is considering launching the program in other cities in the state.Cost: Annual Membership ($65), 24-Hour Pass ($6); niceridemn.org.
Bike commuting to and from the Windy City’s downtown area has increased a whopping 200% since 2005. Plus, thanks to a bike-friendly mayor, former presidential chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, Chicago has more than 200 miles of bike lanes and aims to provide a network of 645 miles by 2020. This proves Chicago had been well prepped for the brand new bike-share program that launched on June 28. Riders can utilize 75 stations and 750 available bikes, and by summer’s end there will be 300 kiosks and 3,000 bikes. By spring 2014, the city plans to add another 100 kiosks and 1,000 bikes to the fleet. Businesses can sign up and score discounted annual memberships for employees.Cost: Annual Membership ($75), 24-Hour Pass ($7); divvybikes.com.
Salt Lake City, Utah
It certainly doesn’t have the largest fleet, but Salt Lake City’s three-month-old Greenbike is a prime example of what other medium-size cities should do when trying to make riding easier on bike commuters. With 10 kiosks and 100 bikes in its fleet, it plans to add another kiosk, and extra docks on existing kiosks, this summer. By summer 2014 the number of stations will double. But what’s really impressive, is that the share program—in conjunction with the city’s new Bicycle Master Plan (completion expected in December 2013)—will help the city add to its existing 180 miles of bikeable lanes and paths with a wider network throughout the city, according to Colin Quinn-Hurst, Salt Lake City transportation planner. Construction will begin in 2014. Want a bonus for joining now? Registering for an annual membership online gets you a free helmet. Pick it up at a local bike shop downtown.Cost: Annual Membership ($75), Weekly Pass ($15), 24-Hour Pass ($5); bikeslc.com.
If you’re not committed to commuting several miles by bike from your apartment to your office door, try multi-modal transit. Madison B-cycle offers easy access to downtown for commuters who prefer to park free of charge near one of its 35 kiosks and grab one of the 350 bikes to ride the remaining two or three miles. Combined transportation still saves upward of $12 per day in parking fees, according to Madison City manager Claire Hurley. And though commutes from the city’s outskirts straight to downtown via B-cycle aren’t possible yet, the program will soon spread out to nearby neighborhoods, starting with a station at the new Central Library.Cost: Annual Membership ($65), 24-Hour Pass ($5); madison.bcycle.com.
For obvious reasons, stress in the nation’s capital runs high. And while signing up for the city’s Capital Bikeshare might not be your first thought to reduce anxiety, the share program’s report, released this year, found that 31.5% of nearly 7,000 surveyed members felt less stressed if they cycled to and from work. Capital Bikeshare has 1,950 bikes and 233 stations so you can cruise D.C.’s 57 miles of lanes and 55 miles of trails, worry-free. Plus, via bike, you can forget stop-and-go traffic. As an added bonus: Capital Bikeshare members reported saving an average of $800 annually on travel. That’s enough for an all-inclusive vacation to the Bahamas.Cost: Annual Membership ($75), Monthly ($25); Daily Key ($10 + $7/day), 3-Day Pass ($15), 24-Hour Pass ($7); capitalbikeshare.com.