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Designated as a Silver-level Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists since 2007, more than half of Austin’s streets have dedicated bicycle lanes.
In fact, during the past three years, the city has actually reduced the number of motor vehicle lanes on roadways to install bike lanes (the master plan calls for 900 miles by 2020).
You can count on a 5- or 10K almost any weekend, or just log miles on the 18-mile Charles River path.
Families can do much more than run in Boston, of course. One of the largest, 527-acre Franklin Park, is a hub for pick-up soccer games, tennis, cycling, and, well, yes, running—since 1997, the Boston Middle School Cross Country Championships have been held here.
The city is home to Mellow Johnny’s, Lance’s massive bike shop, and numerous cycling clubs, like Social Cycling Austin (“Putting butts on bikes since 2009”), which organizes weekly rides that range from hardcore workouts to “Caffeine Cruises.”Lesser known is the fact that Austin is also a great all-around adventure-sports town.
The Barton Creek Greenbelt stitches together seven miles of waterfront parks, providing hiking and (awesome) mountain-biking trails and, in the spring, kayaking spots and swimming holes.
Best For: Living by bike It starts with the biking, of course.
Portland, which has been leading the country’s cycling lifestyle revolution, boasts 181 miles of bike lanes, some 80 miles of off-street bike paths, and the highest percentage of bike commuters of any large city in the U. (6 percent, compared to the average of 0.5 percent). Kids can join weekly “bike trains,” group rides along prearranged routes to public schools. The Columbia and Willamette rivers run through town, providing flatwater kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding.
Boston is also surprisingly easy to escape for a major city: the Berkshires, the White Mountains of New Hampshire, the Green Mountains of Vermont, and the beaches of the Cape and North Shore are all within three hours.Minnehaha Park, overlooking the Mississippi River, contains family-friendly bike paths and forested riverside walking trails that snake along limestone bluffs.Despite brutal winters—average lows dip into the single digits—Minneapolis consistently ranks among the top biking cities in the U. thanks to its extensive bikeways (including 92 miles on city streets and 85 off-street paths) and progressive biking policies.The new five-and-a-half-mile Midtown Greenway, which is separated from car and pedestrian traffic and plowed in the winter, allows for rapid cross-town pedaling.Then there are the lakes, some 750 of them, including the Chain of Lakes, which offers everything from swimming and sailing to logrolling and canoeing.Mountain bikers have their pick of numerous singletrack trails in the canyons east of town, which also contain hundreds of rock-climbing routes.The Middle and Lower Provo rivers offer blue-ribbon trout fishing. Our first assumption: kids like being around other kids.Then we considered health, removing any metropolitan areas that were above the national rate for adult obesity. So we looked for cities where a high percentage of the population is under age 18.Families ready for bigger water adventures can make the four-hour drive north to the 1.1-million-acre Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, one of the largest wilderness areas east of the Rockies.Best For: Urban recreation Largely thanks to Lance Armstrong, Austin has developed a reputation as a cyclist’s town—a label that’s endured even after the seven-time Tour de France champion’s fall from grace.