San Diego is a sprawling metropolitan area, making it an excellent destination for bike riding as long as you stick to bike-friendly neighborhoods. The region has been on a concerted effort to improve bike access, adding hundreds of miles of bike lanes in recent years. Many of those dedicated lanes are in the city's most scenic areas.
In response, bike rental shops and docking stations for Discover Bike, a city bike-share program, have popped up in every neighborhood in the city.
San Diego has also welcomed dockless bike companies that don’t require a station. The yellow, green, and orange bikes that are unlocked using a smartphone app are easy to find. Bikes from the three dockless companies (LimeBike, Ofo, and Mobike) are three-speed and small-framed, with a basket and bell. They are not a good choice for climbing hills.
All that adds up to a favorable rating based on a data-driven city rating system from People for Bikes, the nation’s largest bike advocacy organization. San Diego was recently ranked #9 on the list and was the largest city in the United States to make the top 10.
Where exactly are the best places to ride? Here are some popular places to pedal.
Balboa Park. If you’re looking for a bike-share, look near the western entrance to the park. You’ll also have an easier time finding a shared bike along Sixth Avenue in Hillcrest, downtown, or on Park Boulevard, which leads to the park’s northern and southern entrances. Supplies are very limited inside the park itself.
San Diego Bay. The city’s harbor area is lined with bike lanes and sidewalks from the Hilton San Diego Bayfront to Liberty Station. It’s an easy, flat, and scenic six-mile ride, taking you past the convention center, the airport, Harbor Island, and other San Diego icons. Dozens of hotels and top attractions are within a few blocks of the waterfront, so staying and riding is a great option.
Mission Beach and Pacific Beach. Cruise the coast on a popular 3.4-mile boardwalk that stretches from Mission Point on the south end to Law Street on the north, where the boardwalk ends. Bike share is everywhere, and there are also dozens of traditional rental shops. You will need to dodge and be respectful of the heavy pedestrian, skateboard, and scooter traffic if you go.
The 12-mile Mission Bay Bike Path is a more relaxed ride that circles the bay and offers excellent leisure cycling with fewer things to dodge. It’s also kid-friendly, with 10 public parks and two wildlife reserves as part of the ride.
The Gaslamp Quarter, the Hillcrest neighborhood, University Heights, Beach Barber, and the Bayshore Bikeway are a few other bike adventures worth the ride.