We've fallen to 13th place, down from 7th in the U.S. in previous Bike Score rankings from 2013. As it turns out, our earlier high score was artificially inflated.

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Friday is National Bike to Work Day, and I wish I had better news to report.

Seattle is no longer among the 10 most bikeable big cities in the U.S., according to rankings for 2015 released by Walk Score on Thursday. We’ve fallen to 13th place, down from 7th in the previous Bike Score rankings from 2013.

Some of the cities more bike-friendly than Seattle might come as a surprise, like Sacramento, Calif., and Tucson, Ariz.

If it sounds like this means that cycling in Seattle has gotten worse, that’s not the case. No, as it turns out, our earlier high score was artificially inflated.

Back in 2013, we got a bunch of points for our numerous “sharrows,” those hieroglyphic-like images of bicycles painted on the street that are meant to guide cyclists to the best place to ride. But for the latest Bike Score rankings, the methodology has been tweaked. Sharrows have been demoted because, according to the Walk Score blog, “they are less safe than heavier-weighted infrastructure like designated bike lanes and residential bike paths.”

As a cyclist, I’m afraid I have to agree.

In the new Bike Score results, Seattle earned 63 points out of a possible 100. We were credited for recent infrastructure improvements, including our first protected bikes lanes. But other cities made even greater strides. Chicago’s heavy investment in its on-street bike network helped increase its score by nearly nine points since 2013.

Minneapolis came in first place for big cities in the new rankings, with a score of 81.3 (and if folks there are cycling through Minnesota winters, they deserve the win). San Francisco and Portland round out the top 3, in that order.

Bike Score is intended to measure how good and safe a location is for cycling. It is based on four equally weighted components:

  • Bike lanes
  • Hills
  • Destinations and road connectivity
  • Share of local workers’ commutes traveled by bicycle

On three of these, Seattle is making progress. The hills, however, we’re stuck with.