Sarah Braker, communications manager
We are down to the last two months of our eight-month search for the best U.S. city for “everyday biking.” In case you?re just joining us, we define “everyday biking” as casual, utilitarian trips around town. How will we determine the winner, you ask? It’s pretty simple.
Each month, bicycle advocates in cities across the country pick an intersection and from 4:30 — 5:30pm on a specific day they count the total number of bicycles as well as a specific category of bikes or bike riders. This month that specific category was riders in costumes. (Check out our previous counts of racks, cargo bikes, skirts/dresses, kits, kids and office attire).
One of the most exciting things that has emerged from this experiment is the tight battle for the title between Tucson, Arizona and Memphis, Tennessee. From bike racks to cargo bikes to kids on bikes, these two cities have gone neck and neck month after month. October was no different.
This month we had four cities participate. We should note that Atlanta and Boston would have counted as well, but there was an important public meeting in Atlanta and a celebration for the expansion of Hubway in Boston. Of our participating cities, two spotted some creative costumed riders and two did not. Despite high numbers of total bikes Denver (336 bikes) and Portland (358 bikes) were costume-free. That means that it really came down to, you guessed it, Memphis and Tucson.
So how did these two cities, who have been battling each other all year long, fare this month? In terms of total number of costumed riders, Tucson’s 47 beat Memphis’ 16 handily.
Not to be outdone, Memphis took the top spot in terms of the share of costumed riders among total riders counted.
As with all our previous counts, we ultimately declare a winner by taking our two metrics (number and proportion) and grading each one on a curve. The top-scoring city in each category gets 100 points and other cities get points in proportion to their own relative scores. Then we average the two equally-weighted scores. It should be no surprise that less than four percentage points separated Memphis and Tucson, but the latter ultimately took the title this month.
We have only one more count left, and then we will announce our winner. After turning the count over to the ladies in June for a skirts/dressed count, we figured it was only fair to give the men a count of their own. So for November, in honor of cooler temperatures (at least in most places), we’ll be counting riders with beards. Stay tuned to find out who wins next month and which city will ultimately be crowned the best city for “everyday biking.”