PORTLAND, Ore. ( TheStreet) -- When New York debuted its bicycle sharing program last month, the tabloids and columnists had their collective freakout and Citibank (C)-sponsored CitiBike was not only still standing, but going strong with more than 20,000 members. That may have been the bike boom's mainstream moment.
Yes, the system is still a glitch-ridden mess thanks to a falling-out between equipment company Bixi and its software designer. Yes, Chicago's new Divvy bike share program is riddled with the same issues, as is the system in Chattanooga, Tenn. But just having New York and Chicago on board removes the biggest obstacle to expanded use of those programs in America's large cities and -- like Boston's Hubway system and Minneapolis' Nice Ride systems before them -- dispels the myth that such programs are strictly for small cities and college towns.
Walk Score, a mapping service that generally rates cities and neighborhoods based on their density, their access to public transportation and their distribution of amenities, has begun factoring a city's "bikeability" into its rankings as well. A city's Bike Score takes into account its bike infrastructure (bike lanes, turn boxes, trails, racks, etc.), the numbers of bikers on its streets per capita, its hilly terrain and other factors when considering just how highly a city should rank.
It started offering that data last year after The League of American Cyclistsnoted that American bicycle commuting jumped 47% between 2000 and 2011. It also noted that cities where more bike lanes, accommodations and even new buildings with bike storage and repair shops saw bike commuting jump 80% during that same span.While Walk Score put out a Top 10 listof cities that garnered its best Bike Scores, it included only cities with a population of 500,000 or more. No offense to No. 1 Portland, Ore., but it wouldn't even make the list if smaller towns with higher scores were thrown into the mix. For a more fair representation, we scoured Walk Score's complete list of Bike Score data and came up with the Top 10 cities for cyclists overall: