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Lessons From the Best Biking Cities

Ashland, WI


City Rating
Population: 7,892 | Median Home Price: $131,948 | Diversity Index: 35

Home to less than 8,000 residents, Ashland, Wisconsin, epitomizes some of the things that can make small towns great for bicycling: It has a total area of 13.7 square miles and core services — things like doctors, dentists, grocery stores, schools, jobs and social services — are easily accessible by bike, no matter where you live. Plus, Ashland’s downtown is basically a dense grid of low-stress streets, ideal for biking.

Ashland’s far-north location on Lake Superior also makes it somewhat of a destination, not necessarily a place with a lot of highway through traffic. While that same location makes winter biking somewhat of a nonstarter, the town does have a strong three-season bike culture with a dedicated group of fat-bike enthusiasts come time for snowfall. A countywide bike map makes commuting by bike and identifying nearby mountain bike trails even easier.

From 2021 to 2022, Ashland’s City Ratings score skyrocketed from 28 to 63, bringing it into our Top 10 overall cities. The change is thanks to updates to the town’s Open Street Map (OSM) data, one of the primary inputs for our Bicycle Network Analysis, which in turn informs a place’s City Ratings score. While not necessarily the most glamorous reason for a score change, the massive shift still underscores the need for all cities to maintain good OSM data.


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