Do great cities for biking equal great cities for (men’s) basketball?

March 20, 2019


So your team made it to the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament, but how does your team’s town stack up when it comes to bike infrastructure? Let’s find out! We’re looking at tournament games and sizing up the towns according to our City Ratings. Here’s how our ratings work: we rank cities based on five factors — Ridership, Safety, Network, Acceleration and Reach. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be predicting game outcomes based entirely on City Ratings. Round by round, we’ll publish our picks. Can biking forecast basketball?!

First up, let’s look at some Round-One contenders:

From the East, both Michigan State vs Bradley (Lansing, MI vs Peoria, IL) and Louisville vs Minnesota (Louisville, KY vs Minneapolis, MN) will put on great games. Despite seasonable intimidating weather, Minneapolis has a reputation for being a bike-friendly town. U.S. Representative James Oberstar was instrumental in improvements to bike infrastructure, especially in Minnesota. A scholarship at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs was named in his honor. While Louisville and Minneapolis are neck-and-neck when it comes to Network and Acceleration ratings, the Minnesota Gophers will barely edge out the Louisville Cardinals. The PlacesForBikes City Ratings prediction: Minnesota will move on to the second round with an overall City Rating  of 2.9 over Louisville’s 2.4.



From the Western region, Michigan vs Montana gives us Ann Arbor, MI against Missoula, MT. Ann Arbor cleans up when it comes to Safety and Acceleration, but Missoula has clearly put in the work with Reach and Ridership. With an updated comprehensive transportation plan, we wouldn’t be surprised to see Missoula in the dance next year. The PlacesForBikes City Ratings prediction: This will be a great match-up, but the Big Ten team will come out on top with an overall 2.9 to beat Missoula’s 2.2.

Generally, smaller towns tend to be nicer places to bike. Colgate College located in Hamilton, NY is in the tournament for the first time in 23 years. Up against the much larger, Knoxville, this would be a true Cinderella story. Other match-ups in the Southern region include, Wisconsin, who we predict will crush Oregon (Madison, WI vs Eugene, OR) with a run-away lead from start to finish. The PlacesForBikes City Ratings prediction: Home of our 2017 PlacesForBikes Conference, Madison will win 3.2 over Eugene’s 1.9. We know Eugene is in a building year — they didn’t submit a City Snapshot in 2018, but they did in 2019 — we’d love to see them next year with some strong Acceleration. Perhaps they can recruit some talent from their neighbors to the north.

A much closer game in the South will be Kansas State vs UC Irvine (Manhattan, KS vs Irvine, CA). While Manhattan has a strong Reach score, the underdog in California will come out on top because of their more complete bike network.


Seattle. Source: Dongho Chang.


Finally, the Midwest will give us some of the closest games. Utah State and Washington (Salt Lake City, UT vs Seattle, WA) will go back and forth for the entire game. They have identical 3.1 Network scores, and identical 2.4 Reach scores. Seattle took our top slot in the best new bikeways of 2018, and The PlacesForBikes City Ratings prediction is that they’ll also come out on top with a buzzer-beater 3.2 in Ridership to win against Salt Lake. Other highlights from the Midwest will include Ohio State (Columbus) over Iowa State (Ames), and Georgia State (Atlanta) over Houston.

Stay-tuned to see our Sweet-sixteen predictions!


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