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Biking in the Mountain West has soared since the pandemic, but there might be speed bumps ahead

A protected bike lane in downtown Seattle. There is a person riding a bike in the lane while wearing a helmet.
Seattle Department of Transportation
Flickr Creative Commons
Many U.S. cities are adding protected bike lanes, like this one in Seattle, which is helping biking grow across the country.

Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, bike riding took off all over the country as people looked for ways to get outside and exercise. A new report reveals that the biking boom is still growing in many cities, including parts of the Mountain West.

Between 2019 and 2022, daily bike trips grew 37% nationwide, according to StreetLight, a transportation data company.

In Las Vegas, biking activity surged about 70% – the biggest jump in the Mountain West and fourth-biggest jump in the country. New York City saw the largest increase at 97%, followed by San Diego (71%) and Bakersfield, Calif. (70.8%).

In Denver, daily bike trips increased 36%, nearly mirroring the national average. Meanwhile, biking in Boise, Albuquerque and Salt Lake City climbed less than 10%, ranking as some of the lowest growth among major U.S. cities.

Many metro areas improved their safety infrastructure, such as adding protected bike lanes and paths, said Emily Adler, director of content at StreetLight.

“For other places maybe that haven't, but still saw growth in biking, it's a signal that that infrastructure will need to be in place,” Adler said. “Or else A) you're going to see enthusiasm drop off or B) you could see some safety risks.”

In 2022, bike trips flattened out compared to the previous year, according to the report. Adler said that’s a warning sign that further growth will depend on more bike-friendly investments across the country.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, KUNC in Colorado and KANW in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Kaleb is an award-winning journalist and KUNR’s Mountain West News Bureau reporter. His reporting covers issues related to the environment, wildlife and water in Nevada and the region.

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