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10 Best U.S. Bike Cities of 2011

7. Gainesville, Fla.
Number of bicycle commuters: 3,047
Bicycle commuters' share of overall population: 6.3%
Yes, you can teach a Gator to ride a bicycle.

A solid 42% of Gainesville residents are University of Florida students and make up the bulk of Gainesville's bicycle commuters. That's no small feat, considering Gator skin comes in pretty handy from May through September when average high temperatures top out around 90 degrees with a heavy helping of torrential rain and humidity. That includes an average of nearly seven inches of rain in the month of August alone.

That hasn't prevented Gainesville from developing a fairly devout bike culture. Its annual cycling festival celebrates its 31st year in October with races, tours and rides through acres of horse farms and wildlife preserves. The 17-mile Gainesville Hawthorne rail bed bike trail is perhaps the city's greatest gift to cyclists, with a hard-packed path that passes lakes, prairies, country roads and herds of bison and wild horses.

Gainesville encourages its cycling community and began a bicycle repair station pilot program earlier this summer. The small stations made out of recycled bike parts allow riders to put their bike up on a rack and make minor repairs using connected air pumps, screwdrivers and wrenches. The city also holds a bike-vs.-car commute race each May between its mayor and a University of Florida squad car to illustrate how much more efficient it is to commute through Gainesville by bike. The mayor's Trek 3900 hasn't lost yet.

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