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10 Great Retirement Towns for Biking

Category: Best Retirement Towns and States

September 9, 2020 — Although the pandemic has been horrendous for activities like dining out or social gatherings, others are experiencing a gold rush. One of those is biking (cycling to our British brethren). Walk into a bike shop now and say you need a bike – get ready for a 3 month wait. Want a used bike… sorry. The same goes for bike parts and repairs. As people avoid mass transit and have more time on their hands, biking has never been more popular.

While it is a great activity, it is a lot more enjoyable when you live in a place where the infrastructure is set up for it. When bikers and cars are kept separate it is a lot safer and more fun. Bike lanes, special traffic signals, concrete barriers, and under/overpasses make all the difference. No one wants to bike along a narrow berm next to speeding cars, or face daunting intersections with multiple lanes to cross.


This article will highlight 10 towns and cities to retire where biking is easy, safe, and fun. To develop this list we used, in addition to our own research, data and rankings from PeopleForBikes as reported by REI. PeopleForBikes scored cities around five questions:

  • How many people ride bikes?
  • How safe is it to ride a bike?
  • How easy is it for people to get around on a bike?
  • How fast is the network of bike trails and routes growing and expanding, and can the bike network access all neighborhoods in the community?

Great places for around town biking and commuting.

Boulder, Colorado. The PeopleForBikes named this city #1 in 2019. For many cyclists, Boulder is a biking dream. City parks and trails flourish in a town that celebrates being green and athletic. Mountain biking begins within the city limits.

Eugene, Oregon. Ranked 3rd on the PeopleForBikes list, the city manager signed an action plan for Vision Zero, which aims to eliminate deaths and serious injuries within Eugene’s transportation network. PeopleForBikes gave Eugene, a great college town for retirement, 3.8 out of five points for safety. 

Madison, Wisconsin. This exciting college town has a goal of making bicycling “an integral part of daily life.” To that end there are miles of bike paths and trails, traffic lights, lighting, even snow-plowing. Many people cycle to work. State Street, a car-free zone, links the campus with the capital square.

Lawrence, Kansas. PeopleForBikes gave Lawrence high marks for effort in the safety and growth categories. This college town has restaurants, microbreweries, and coffee houses. Lawrence’s Massachusetts Street has a lively atmosphere and is filled with restaurants, bars, galleries, shops, and music venues. 

Fort Collins, Colorado. The city, home to Colorado State University, was named the most bike-friendly city by PeopleForBikes in 2018. There are more than 280 miles of designated bikeways in Fort Collins, including on-street designated bike lanes, and the paved Spring Creek and Poudre River Trails. Residents also a dirt trail, the 5.8-mile Foothills Trail. The Fort Collins Bicycle Library lends bicycles to visitors, students, and residents looking to explore the city of Fort Collins. Real estate is getting pricey here but nothing like in Boulder.

Minneapolis, Minnesota. This bike friendly town has 120 miles of on- and off-street bicycle trails and lanes. You can find indoor bike parking and other cycling-friendly facilities too.

Arlington, Virginia. This charming old city on the Potomac is committed to cycling, in fact it has automated counters to keep track of bicyclists and pedestrians. Some of the bike trails in the city see 500,000 bike trips a year.  The downtown is a walkable treasure with restaurants and shops.

Austin, Texas. . The city has a plan for incorporating bicycles into all new projects and is rated high for biking. The University of Texas and its young students makes this a very different Texas city.

Long Beach, California. One of the greatest bike paths anywhere is the one that goes for miles along the beach. It’s paved and great for exercise and people watching. On top of that, Long Beach is considered a very walkable city, and less expensive than the LA Metro to the north.

Gainesville, Florida. Another college town (Univ. of Florida) Gainesville is working hard to create bike boulevards, a low-traffic alternative for bikers. The city building code is being changed so that every new construction project comes with a bike parking facility.

Tempe, Arizona. Home to Arizona State University, planners here are trying to make intersections safer by building eight protected intersections. One of the most impressive initiatives is to build underpasses so bikes can bypass intersections all together.

Comments? Did we miss any great biking towns, or do you live in one we should know about? Have you seen andy advances that towns are taking to make biking safer and more fun. Here in Connecticut we have a great new bike trail, but unfortunately it is very hard to expand it. Let us know in the Comments section below.

Posted by Admin on September 9th, 2020

8 Comments »

  1. How about Tucson, AZ. Ever hear of The Loop? https://www.visittucson.org/things-to-do/outdoor-adventure/cycling/loop https://tucson.com/map-of-the-loop-trail/image_6fa59374-287b-11e8-8df4-7bf1ce46d05e.html

    Editor’s comment. Wow, what a fantastic trail system! Thanks for sharing this one.

    by ljtucson — September 9, 2020

  2. I might add Edwardsville, IL. Home to Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. There are two SIU campuses, the other at Carbondale.
    Edwardsville may not be a recognizable name but the biking trails are worth checking out.
    There is a unique seven loop set of trails totaling 135 miles. These trails loop all around Madison County IL. More info can be found on the website— mcttrails.org.
    Edwardsville is a small city included in Metro East, part of the greater St Louis metropolitan area. Edwardsville is on the IL side of the Mississippi River near Interstates 55 and 270.
    Anyone looking for a great Midwestern spot for a biking trip might want to check this out. In addition,
    it is near Cahokia Mounds state historical site as well as the Great River Road.

    by B Dodson — September 9, 2020

  3. Consider Palm Coast, Florida. I live there on the barrier island. Lots of sidewalks and biking trails, including the one on historic/scenic A1A that runs for miles parallel to the ocean. And, I can ride my bike to Publix (using my handy bike basket). Added benefit: because of the flatness and weather, you can ride your bike virtually every day. I do!

    Jan Cullinane, author, The Single Woman’s Guide to Retirement (AARP/Wiley)

    by Jan — September 10, 2020

  4. As a graduate of SIUE, I’m glad to see that Edwardsville and Madison County have an extensive bike trail system. Although I haven’t been back there for 40 years, I have a lot of found memories of Edwardsville and SIUE.

    We have been in the DFW area for the last 22 years and have just signed a contract to build a downsized home in a new development in Denton County just north of Fort Worth. While I preferred to move to Robson Ranch, an active adult community in Denton County, my wife wasn’t having it. She didn’t want to be among just “old people” (she is age 65). We will be building in Canyon Falls instead. This will be a very large development when completed and the developer has set aside 350 acres of green space which includes 14 miles of paved and natural hiking and bike trails throughout the community. I can’t wait to get out there and make use of them.

    by LS — September 10, 2020

  5. It seems everything is about cities. Even the Tucson reply. All too big and crowded to appeal to me! I carry a mountain bike on my class b RV and find many nice places to bike in AZ, NM, and CA away from all the hubbub of cities.

    by Bob — September 10, 2020

  6. Bob raises a good point. Most of the groups that rate places for biking (or walkability) concentrate on cities and not small towns, because it is a lot harder for the former to offer a safe and fun experience than it is a smaller town. But that doesn’t mean some small towns try harder than others to make biking safer. For example, towns like Key West have installed bike lanes on some important one lane streets that are a lot safer than they would be on narrow two way streets. Hendersonville NC has installed curves and pedestrian areas downtown to slow cars down. Santa Monica, CA has a paved path along the beach that goes for miles and miles. Pedestrian streets, which many towns are putting in, aren’t great for bikers but they sure are nice for walkers. Does anyone know some small towns that have made big improvements for bikers, such as bike lanes and over/underpasses that physically separate cars from bikers?

    by Admin — September 10, 2020

  7. Another city that is very bicycle-friendly is St. Petersburg, Florida. We rented a home during the winter a few years ago, and we were impressed with the bike trails and barriers in some intersections. You can ride on the Pinellas Trail which connects to the Downtown Trail going right through the city, and then on to the North Bay Trail. The city has a biking map and an active biking club. The Pinellas Trail goes through the small towns of Dunedin and Gulfport which would also make nice retirement towns for those who enjoy biking.

    by Jemmie — September 11, 2020

  8. We snowbird in Gainesville. There is access to the Gainesville-Hawthorne Trail which is well-maintained and offers parking along the trail at different start points. Gainesville offers really great bike shops who will assist with maintenance regardless of brand and purchase location. The Gainesville Cycling Club offers the opportunity to rides in groups based on ability in addition to cycling advocacy. They are branching out to gravel riding to minimize riding on paved roads. Joining a club is highly recommended as a way to meet people with similar interests and remember: there’s safety in numbers. Just down the road in Alachua which offers mountain bike trails at the San Felasco State park. A little further away to the south is Ocala home to Santos State park that offers a 15 mile paved trail and miles of off road cycling.

    by Mark Phillips — September 13, 2020

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