Cleveland’s bike accessibility matches the national average, but less than it could be

CLEVELAND, Ohio — The Cleveland area has collectively improved the lives of its cyclists over the past decade by installing new bike lanes and other projects, but how bikeable is the city and surrounding suburbs compared to to the rest of the country or even the world?

About average, according to the nonprofit PeopleForBikes’ 2022 bike network analysis.

But that’s not necessarily a reason to be proud of a job well done. Out of a score of 100, the United States has an average score of 24. Cleveland’s bike network score is 26.

The PeopleForBikes Cycling Network Analysis measures how well cycling networks connect people to where they want to go in low-stress scenarios, mostly without significant detours or traffic. It covers more than 1,300 locations in North America, Europe and Australia and primarily constructs scores using six criteria: people, opportunities, basic services, shopping, recreation and public transport.

People measurement is based on how the cycling network connects you to other people. Opportunity measures the degree of accessibility of schools and workplaces via the network. Basic services are related to essential needs like grocery stores and hospitals. Commercial measures where the nearest commercial district is. Leisure calculates the number of available parks and off-street bike paths. And public transport sees how well cycle paths interact and are combined with public transport. Each category then has its own sub-categories.

The categories in which Cleveland scores best are road access to K-12 schools and trails at recreation parks, with a score of 51 and 55. However, the city has poor access to basic services like doctors and hospitals, with an average score of 24, as well as minimal bike paths to workplaces and vocational schools, contributing to an opportunity score of 30.

Finally, bike lanes do not lead to the city’s limited transit hubs, scoring a 16, according to the analysis.

Bike paths in Cleveland are disjointed and only serve parts of the city. Credit: PeopleForBikes credit, cycling network analysis, bna.peopleforbikes.org

This is in part because Cleveland and its suburbs have significant gaps in safe bike lanes, with even recent opposition to bike-friendly sidewalks in part of the city. Much of the city’s census tracts score low, with only certain neighborhoods like West Boulevard, Ohio City, Hough, Mount Pleasant, and Lee Harvard having above-average access for cyclists.

“Like most American cities, Cleveland needs many more miles of protected bikeways, especially where they can connect people to common destinations and connect existing bikeways,” says Rebecca Davies, program director of PeopleForBikesh Cities Rating.

The census tract map below tells the story of safe bicycle access for pockets of Cleveland, but is unavailable as a reliable source of transportation for much of the city.

Cleveland Cycling Access by Census Tract

Overall, the majority of census tracts do not have adequate bicycle access in the city. Credit: PeopleForBikes credit, cycling network analysis, bna.peopleforbikes.org

However, the effort some neighborhoods and special projects are making to make Cleveland more bikeable is pushing the needle forward, pushing the city’s overall score from 23 in 2020 to 26 in 2022. Notable increases include access to vocational schools , community centers, dentists, social networks services and parks. There were 34.2 additional miles in low stress areas and 5.2 miles in high stress areas with higher traffic levels.

The best performing place in the world, according to the analysis, is Zwolle in the Netherlands, with a score of 93. Zwolle scored over 90 in each of the six categories, except for access to hospitals, which scored 83—Cleveland scores 15 in the same category. The Netherlands claims the top three cycling spots in the world.

#4 is tied between two US cities, Fayette, Missouri and Provincetown, Massachusetts, each with a score of 88. While each city excels in bicycle access to basic services and opportunities, they both fall short in the recreation category, ranking in the 60s. Cleveland scores a 34 in recreation. However, due to the small size of these places compared to Cleveland, they completely lack access to basic services like hospitals, vocational colleges, and public transportation.

Bike path extension of Crocker Road

The Cuyahoga County Engineer’s office, upon completion of the Crocker Road extension in 2008, proposed to include a wide multi-use path along the road. Westake said yes; North Olmsted said no which resulted in the path ending at the town border and this sign is still displayed there.Rich Exner, cleveland.com

In Ohio, Athens, home to Ohio University, has the highest score in the state at 52. It performed best in areas regarding access to colleges and to recreational trails, but hesitant on roads leading to health services such as dentists. Cleveland, a city much larger than Athens, ranks 17th out of 34 in the state, beating out Cincinnati, Akron, Toledo, and others.

The analysis also suggests that larger cities have a harder time changing their infrastructure to be more bike-friendly. The high place with a population of 300,000 or more is Brooklyn, New York, with a score of 65. It is closely followed by San Francisco (61), Seattle (58), and Queens, New York (57).

For the complete analysis of the cycling network of places with more than 300,000 inhabitants, see below. Some mobile users may need to use this link instead to view the graph.


Ranking Town BNA rating
1 Brooklyn, New York 65
2 San Francisco, California 61
3 Seattle, Washington 58
4 Queens, New York 57
5 Manhattan, New York 54
6 Portland, OR 52
seven Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 48
8 Bronx, New York 43
St. Paul, Minnesota 43
ten Detroit, Michigan 42
11 Washington, District of Columbia 41
12 Denver, Colorado 37
Minneapolis, Minnesota 37
San Juan, Puerto Rico 37
15 Staten Island, New York 36
16 Colorado Springs, Colorado 35
Milwaukee, Wis. 35
Stockton, California 35
19 New Orleans, Louisiana 34
Oakland, California 34
St. Louis, Missouri 34
22 Tucson, Arizona 33
23 Omaha, Nebraska 32
24 Austin, TX 30
Sacramento, California 30
26 Aurora, Colorado 29
Boston, MA 29
Kansas City, Missouri 29
29 Albuquerque, New Mexico 28
Phoenix, Arizona 28
San Diego, California 28
32 Long Beach, California 27
33 Cleveland, Ohio 26
Columbus, Ohio 26
Los Angeles, California 26
36 Atlanta, Georgia 25
Charlotte, North Carolina 25
San Jose, California 25
39 Cincinnati, Ohio 24
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 24
41 Tulsa, Oklahoma 23
42 Mesa, Arizona 22
43 Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 21
Santa Ana, California 21
Virginia Beach, Virginia 21
46 Miami, Florida 20
47 Fresno, California 19
Honolulu Hawaii 19
Las Vegas, Nevada 19
Riverside, California 19
51 Raleigh, North Carolina 18
52 Jacksonville, Florida 17
53 Anaheim, California 14
Baltimore, Maryland 14
55 San Antonio, TX 13
Tampa, Florida 13
57 Memphis, TN 12
58 Bakersfield, California 11
59 Lexington, Kentucky ten
Nashville, TN ten
61 Houston, TX 9
Louisville, Kentucky 9
63 Corpus Christi, Texas 8
Dallas, TX 8
Indianapolis, Indiana 8
66 Wichita, Kansas seven
67 Arlington, TX 6
El Paso, TX 6
Fort Worth, TX 6
70 Chicago, Ill. 5
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