Author Topic: Do you live in a bicycle friendly mid-sized city?  (Read 7589 times)

meteor

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Do you live in a bicycle friendly mid-sized city?
« on: January 15, 2015, 09:40:09 PM »
I'm interested in exploring bicycle friendly towns (population 100,000 or less). Ideally a college town that has a farmer's market, healthy living etc...If you live in a town like this, can you tell me why you like living there?

iamlindoro

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Re: Do you live in a bicycle friendly mid-sized city?
« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2015, 10:00:04 PM »
Sounds like Davis, CA to me.    College town, Farms and farmers markets, ~66K people, consistently rated the best biking city in the country (depending on whose list it is, but usually in the  top 3).  Great weather, nice people, vibrant college atmosphere, and all the usual perks of being in California.  Good access to Sacramento and San Francisco if you want a night on the town or an international airport.

Downside is, of course, the priciness relative to the rest of the country-- but very affordable compared to the Bay Area, and a number of smaller towns in the Davis area are more affordable.
« Last Edit: January 15, 2015, 10:03:05 PM by iamlindoro »

Lanthiriel

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Re: Do you live in a bicycle friendly mid-sized city?
« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2015, 10:59:30 PM »
I no longer live here (sadly) but I use to live in Anchorage, Alaska and it has everything you are looking for plus some of the greatest biking (etc...) trails I have ever been on all right within the city limits...

A few warnings about Anchorage (from someone who loves it here), it's a sizable city (300k+), and those awesome trails are groomed for skiing in the winter. It's tough to get around here in the winter on a bike.

That said, you might like Eugene, OR. College town. Reasonably flat. Somewhat near the coast. A little methy, but I heard good things about it when I lived in Portland.

lb

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Re: Do you live in a bicycle friendly mid-sized city?
« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2015, 11:05:42 PM »
Corvallis, OR: population 54,000. 1.5hrs south of Portland. Oregon State University is located there. A quote from the City of Corvallis website:

"Corvallis is one of the best cities in the nation for bicycling. In fact, we're #1! In 2011 The American Community Survey (an arm of the US Census) released its analysis of the Journey to Work question, revealing that Corvallis has the highest percentage of bicycle commuters and second highest percentage of pedestrian commuters of any city over 50,000 population in the United States. The compact nature of the city, combined with its excellent bicycle facilities and relatively flat terrain, allows almost any trip to be accomplished by bicycle in less than 15 minutes. Approximately 98 percent of the collector and arterial roadways in Corvallis have bike lanes (46 miles) and there are 18 miles of multi-use paths."

http://www.corvallisoregon.gov/index.aspx?page=162

darkadams00

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Re: Do you live in a bicycle friendly mid-sized city?
« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2015, 05:25:56 AM »
Triangle area of NC. Several living styles here to choose from--suburban (Cary/Morrisville/Chapel Hill) small town (Apex/Holly Springs/Louisburg) rural (New Hill/Moncure) to name a few. Suburban = less driving, more biking, possibly including commute, public transit available. Small town = less driving, more biking, commute likely requires driving due to distance. Rural (outside small towns) = more driving, less biking for eveything.

Three ACC colleges of different stripes (private, liberal arts, and technical). Farmer's markets in several of these towns (we go to three), and ongoing community events for the warmer nine months of the year. Bikeability is very much a function of housing choices and routes. There are several areas in these bikeable towns that would make the area seem nearly unbikeable. I don't live in such a neighborhood.




ak907

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Re: Do you live in a bicycle friendly mid-sized city?
« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2015, 06:04:02 AM »
I like the idea behind this post as I would like to find a good city to live a mustashian lifestyle in. Keep the reply's coming!

MayDay

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Re: Do you live in a bicycle friendly mid-sized city?
« Reply #6 on: January 16, 2015, 06:12:09 AM »
Ames, IA is lovely and flat.  Home of Iowa State university, population is a bit over 50k, I believe, plus the college students.  Lots of good cultural stuff, cheap ethnic restaurants, a great co-op, multiple good bike shops, 2 farmers markets, awesome bus system, etc. 

There aren't a ton of dedicated bike paths, but the city is very bike friendly overall with lots of connecting less busy streets that you can safely ride on even with kids.  Plus tons of students biking so people are just used to it.

Schools are good. 

Iowa City, IA has many similar attributes, is larger (large enough for a costco, for example) but much more sprawl.  But you could probably bus it out to costco. 

Both are pretty cheap.  Both are in the Midwest so cold winters, hot but not awful summers, flat (this is good IMO as I hate biking with hills).  There is great camping and hiking up in MN, and it's a one day drive to CO for skiing and hiking.  I grew up in Ames and would like to move back. 

Eric

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Re: Do you live in a bicycle friendly mid-sized city?
« Reply #7 on: January 16, 2015, 10:56:40 AM »
I hear Madison, Wic. is a great biking town but have never been there myself.

It is, but it has about 250K people, so I don't think it fits the OP's definition of mid-sized.

Mr. Frugalwoods

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Re: Do you live in a bicycle friendly mid-sized city?
« Reply #8 on: January 16, 2015, 01:03:07 PM »
Check out Lawrence, KS.  Cheap living, good beer.  It's a college town, so it's more liberal than the surrounding state.

senecando

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Re: Do you live in a bicycle friendly mid-sized city?
« Reply #9 on: January 16, 2015, 01:15:53 PM »
I hear Madison, Wic. is a great biking town but have never been there myself.

It is, but it has about 250K people, so I don't think it fits the OP's definition of mid-sized.
True but maybe, like my example of Anchorage, AK above, sometimes a city with a larger population may seem smaller if it isn't surrounded by a bunch of other small cities. Here in SoCal I live in a city of under 200K people - it's just the 20 or so million other people who live near by that make it a messed up place :-)! Anchorage (and maybe places like Madison) may be larger but have no or little sprawl compared to some "small" cities..

There isn't much sprawl here (but I'm from LA); a real population estimate would include the populations of Middleton (88k), Fitchburg (28k), Monona (8k) and others. 400k?
« Last Edit: January 16, 2015, 01:18:03 PM by senecando »

Russ

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Re: Do you live in a bicycle friendly mid-sized city?
« Reply #10 on: January 16, 2015, 02:10:58 PM »
I would hesitate to call any city <100k population a "city"... Madison sits at 83rd in the US by population, and there are still over 200 cities between it and one with a population of 100k (see Wikipedia).

here's some bicycle-friendly towns:
http://www.bicycling.com/news/featured-stories/5-small-bike-friendly-cities
note that most places that small won't have much reason for bicycle-specific transit planning, as the volume is so low in the first place

Russ

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Re: Do you live in a bicycle friendly mid-sized city?
« Reply #11 on: January 16, 2015, 02:14:07 PM »
To echo everybody else though, Madison is 100% rad for bikes. I'd be glad to provide a tour by bicycle for any visitors

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Do you live in a bicycle friendly mid-sized city?
« Reply #12 on: January 16, 2015, 02:18:08 PM »
I'll plug Emmaus, PA specifically and more generally the Lehigh Valley where I live now. It's adjacent to Allentown, which is over 100k in population and thus has jobs, but even better it's adjacent to a substantial system of trails and parks on the mountain that makes up the southern edge of the Lehigh Valley. It has a central shopping district easily accessible by bike or walking from nearly anywhere in town. The old grid system of streets is fantastic for biking because less-traveled streets run parallel to busy ones. It does have a farmer's market, though Allentown's is definitely bigger. If I was more of a badass, I would bike to the grocery store. It would not be hard. Housing is not expensive.

jopiquant

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Re: Do you live in a bicycle friendly mid-sized city?
« Reply #13 on: January 16, 2015, 02:19:34 PM »
Bellingham, WA

I don't live there, but my family does. It's a college town with somewhere around 80,000 people. Very crunchy and bike-friendly. It's got a healthy Pacific Northwest vibe. A bit less rain than Vancouver. Nice access to additional recreation out of town, lots of nice bike infrastructure in town. All the mod-cons even though it's a small city. Decent music scene.

Static Void

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Re: Do you live in a bicycle friendly mid-sized city?
« Reply #14 on: January 16, 2015, 02:49:36 PM »
Santa Cruz, CA. 63000, bike-friendly (even the cars are mostly polite).
University town, crunchy, good cafes and all that.
90 minutes from San Francisco.
Near the ocean.

Expensive, though.

iamlindoro

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Re: Do you live in a bicycle friendly mid-sized city?
« Reply #15 on: January 16, 2015, 02:56:32 PM »
Santa Cruz, CA. 63000, bike-friendly (even the cars are mostly polite).
University town, crunchy, good cafes and all that.
90 minutes from San Francisco.
Near the ocean.

Expensive, though.

Coming from someone who loves Santa Cruz and also lives in the Bay Area, the downside about Santa Cruz to me is the disproportionately high violent and property crime rate.  You're more likely to be a victim of violent crime in Santa Cruz, statistically, than you are in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Salinas, Watsonville, and many others.

The good news is Santa Cruz residents are starting to get tired of it and that things might finally start to get better in the near future.

dradam168

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Re: Do you live in a bicycle friendly mid-sized city?
« Reply #16 on: January 16, 2015, 06:05:20 PM »
...plans are to live in the downtown area of a smallish city where I can be car free and walk or bike everywhere, and that is surrounded by green areas (mountains, forests, rivers, lakes, ocean) that are easily accessible by bike or occasional car.

Madison is great, and a great place for bikes (if you can handle the winters) but I think that you would find that living downtown will mean the need to drive to most nearby green places (no mountains or oceans either).  I live in the center of Madison and on the most direct path (a very nice bike path though) it would take me at least an hour to bike out of what I would consider to be "the city" and then I'd still be largely biking through farmland, which means biking along roads.

Russ

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Re: Do you live in a bicycle friendly mid-sized city?
« Reply #17 on: January 16, 2015, 08:14:52 PM »
"Go west, young dradam168"
It's less than 30 miles, 100% on multi-use path, to Blue Mounds, where there's bicycle-specific camping. Makes an awesome weekend trip if you need some outdoors time. Yes it's more than an hour ride, but the "nature" starts as near as Fitchburg!
« Last Edit: January 16, 2015, 09:52:41 PM by Russ »

senecando

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Re: Do you live in a bicycle friendly mid-sized city?
« Reply #18 on: January 16, 2015, 09:33:10 PM »
If green means "being able to observe hawks and wild turkeys and seeing wild watercress growing in the middle of winter", then you just have to go as far as the arboretum. I've heard great things about owen conservation park, too, which is apparently a birder's paradise. Both are "in the city" but are hella green. Not to mention Tenney lagoon with its muskrats and gigundo carp and fowl.

My preferred green spot is Cross Plains state park. I take the auto there, but that looks to be about 12 miles from down town, a little over an hour.

Static Void

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Re: Do you live in a bicycle friendly mid-sized city?
« Reply #19 on: January 18, 2015, 10:35:50 AM »
Santa Cruz, CA. 63000, bike-friendly (even the cars are mostly polite).

Coming from someone who loves Santa Cruz and also lives in the Bay Area, the downside about Santa Cruz to me is the disproportionately high violent and property crime rate.  You're more likely to be a victim of violent crime in Santa Cruz, statistically, than you are in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Salinas, Watsonville, and many others.
future.

Sad but true. There's some plausible arguments made that the ratio of visitors/residents skews the stats. (Tourist destinations, especially those with plentiful drinking establishments, trend high.) But the facts are the facts.

http://www.city-data.com/crime/crime-Santa-Cruz-California.html
http://www.city-data.com/crime/crime-San-Francisco-California.html

Shows overall Santa Cruz 457 to San Francisco 412 crimes per hundred thousand per year. Murder rate twice as high.
At least auto thefts are lower. (Which is the one crime I've been a victim of! In 1992, amazingly, vehicle was recovered.)

DeltaBond

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Re: Do you live in a bicycle friendly mid-sized city?
« Reply #20 on: January 18, 2015, 05:10:53 PM »
Monterey, Sand City, Pacific Grove, Marina, Seaside, Carmel, or San Jose, California

capital

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Re: Do you live in a bicycle friendly mid-sized city?
« Reply #21 on: January 18, 2015, 05:35:59 PM »
...plans are to live in the downtown area of a smallish city where I can be car free and walk or bike everywhere, and that is surrounded by green areas (mountains, forests, rivers, lakes, ocean) that are easily accessible by bike or occasional car.

Madison is great, and a great place for bikes (if you can handle the winters) but I think that you would find that living downtown will mean the need to drive to most nearby green places (no mountains or oceans either).  I live in the center of Madison and on the most direct path (a very nice bike path though) it would take me at least an hour to bike out of what I would consider to be "the city" and then I'd still be largely biking through farmland, which means biking along roads.
Yeah the lack of ocean, as well as mountains, and distance to either will take away most inland places from my list. But Madison sounds like a fun place to visit and stay awhile but maybe not forever.


You aren't near the ocean, but you're not all that far from this:


Likewise, you're not near real mountains, but you're not far from this:



Southwestern Wisconsin isn't the most spectacular natural environment that the US has to offer, but it ain't Oklahoma either. And you can bike pretty much the whole distance from Madison to Lake Michigan and the Mississippi Valley on lovely rail trails, too.

Basically, Madison is:
-walkable and bikeable in its core neighborhoods
-more culturally vibrant than its population suggests, as a state capital and the host to a large university
-pretty cheap for a city of its caliber
-economically vibrant

So it's certainly worth consideration in my book.

Another cold, bike-friendly college town of a bit smaller scale is Missoula. It has huge mountains right at the edge of town, albeit no ocean.

And, of course, there's always Longmont. It'll probably have fewer cultural opportunities in-town compared to Madison or Missoula, however.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2015, 05:40:35 PM by ehgee »

mm1970

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Re: Do you live in a bicycle friendly mid-sized city?
« Reply #22 on: January 18, 2015, 05:45:47 PM »
Quote
'm interested in exploring bicycle friendly towns (population 100,000 or less). Ideally a college town that has a farmer's market, healthy living etc...If you live in a town like this, can you tell me why you like living there?
Santa Barbara, CA

But mustachian, it ain't

About 80k people, UCSB and SB City College.  Our farmer's markets are year round and they are 6 days a week, not to mention the farm stands.

Beach AND mountains (though it's a couple hours or more to find snow).  Bike paths and lanes, but it is CA, so you have to be careful of the car culture (I used to bike to work regularly).

If you are looking to live cheaply, that's tough.  I have a friend who lives in a converted bus and rents space in an industrial area for cheap.  But apartment living or house living won't be.

I think about leaving the area, selling the house, and retiring.  But man, I love it here.  Just today, I walked the kids 1/2 mile to the local park, where I met neighborhood friends for our weekly brunch potluck. Kids played, dogs had fun too.  Then we went to the YMCA pool to swim and had a smoothie.  We could have just as easily gone to the beach (the water is wetsuit weather for me, but not for the boys).  Or we could have gone for one of many hikes - some right from our house.

My coworkers go backpacking in the "backcountry" fairly often.   My boss and ex-boss go on 30-100 mile bike rides down the coast or in the mountains.

I belong to a CSA, my neighbor shops at the farmer's market weekly, there's a local produce store a mile from my house.