Some cyclists love feeling the wind in their hair. Others like to feel it all over — so much so that a global movement has brought this special group of cyclists quite literally out of their shell.
In the U.S., the World Naked Bike Ride takes place between June and September. Butt (’scuse our pun), where can you let your hair down — along with other body parts — without running (or pedaling) afoul of the law?
LawnStarter compared the 200 biggest U.S. cities to find 2022’s Best Cities for Naked Biking.
We first studied the regulatory landscape in each city to help naked bikers avoid legal (and other) bumps on the road. We then considered the local popularity of naked biking, the size and activeness of the cycling community, and, of course, the climate.
Check out the best cities for biking in the buff below, followed by some highlights and lowlights. (Please try not to stare.)
- City Rankings
- Highlights and Lowlights
- Surprising Findings
- Behind the Ranking
- Exposing the Truth About Bike Fatalities
See how each city fared in our ranking:
Overall Rank (1=Best)CityOverall ScoreNaked Biking-Friendliness RankPopularity RankSafety RankClimate Rank 1Chicago, IL63.29101581 2Portland, OR59.61123342 3Seattle, WA58.2186846 4Austin, TX56.6213323173 5St. Louis, MO56.2221163126 6Philadelphia, PA55.9631811112 7San Francisco, CA55.141352126 8Madison, WI55.134217142 9Los Angeles, CA54.68144581 10Boston, MA51.621516255 11Milwaukee, WI51.337177761 12New York, NY50.379126113 13Houston, TX49.0863654183 14Buffalo, NY48.659712757 15New Orleans, LA45.94532187185 16Columbus, OH45.20117251130 17Boise City, ID44.9924192541 18Denver, CO43.849671289 19Minneapolis, MN43.491828158 20Washington, DC42.511741214109 21Lincoln, NE42.2518572496 22San Antonio, TX40.40443028176 22Tulsa, OK40.40291498154 24Eugene, OR40.1211641445 25San Diego, CA39.89123106533 26Albuquerque, NM39.6134632652 27Pittsburgh, PA39.44682447118 28Atlanta, GA39.18214590146 29Rochester, NY38.8564503360 30Dallas, TX38.81283479155 31Omaha, NE38.7117918778 32Amarillo, TX38.3043464995 33Alexandria, VA37.66175139109 34Salem, OR37.63331084644 35Sacramento, CA37.43114542237 36Fort Collins, CO37.40122491089 37San Jose, CA37.27141313526 38Springfield, MO37.102212760127 39Pasadena, CA36.9812620682 40Tempe, AZ36.8799701599 41Miami, FL36.63872548182 42Louisville, KY36.48317774119 43Macon, GA36.44744243172 44Honolulu, HI36.2135938639 45El Paso, TX36.1754609286 46Lexington, KY35.98301874098 47Salt Lake City, UT35.92170914349 48Anchorage, AK35.853712813199 49Providence, RI35.8278893875 50Charlotte, NC35.77765857120 51Huntsville, AL35.582018288151 52Las Vegas, NV35.4477618062 53Phoenix, AZ35.251042912299 54Olathe, KS35.176514842121 55Syracuse, NY35.02708272107 56Little Rock, AR34.982662180108 57Arlington, VA34.961843918109 58Des Moines, IA34.90381637085 59Orlando, FL34.74698831198 60Jersey City, NJ34.731219216115 61Tucson, AZ34.719340119129 62McAllen, TX34.665114144176 63Oklahoma City, OK34.654156159139 64Durham, NC34.648311830147 65Wichita, KS34.584510697140 66Birmingham, AL34.5216117186167 67Oakland, CA34.51144478126 68Grand Rapids, MI34.471103811279 69Laredo, TX34.426619229176 70Lubbock, TX34.364213011097 71Vancouver, WA34.31172791742 72Colorado Springs, CO34.271172315374 73Killeen, TX34.264918045173 74Plano, TX34.244716853155 75Overland Park, KS34.235715569121 76Fremont, CA34.17159693826 77Midland, TX34.17521835094 78Sioux Falls, SD34.0536100113141 79Bridgeport, CT33.99801615577 80Sunnyvale, CA33.981541071926 81Raleigh, NC33.957268123147 82Cleveland, OH33.83855913571 83Kansas City, MO33.8225125169121 84Montgomery, AL33.7423113149179 85Cincinnati, OH33.727351155168 86Mobile, AL33.7119154160186 87McKinney, TX33.656099111155 88Fort Worth, TX33.6250101124155 89Arlington, TX33.6055116104155 90Pomona, CA33.59155351522 91Brownsville, TX33.586712476169 92Dayton, OH33.567511211769 93Winston-Salem, NC33.528248168136 94Mesquite, TX33.466214275155 95Irving, TX33.385316971155 96Frisco, TX33.345814391155 97Kansas City, KS33.324081178121 98Santa Rosa, CA33.2513467832 99Long Beach, CA33.181335213425 100Reno, NV33.168853126152 101Irvine, CA33.0814680612 102Paradise, NV33.061051733262 103Baltimore, MD32.851136666128 104Garland, TX32.845917794155 105North Las Vegas, NV32.841011843462 106Nashville, TN32.7118315131143 107Toledo, OH32.66901715676 108Greensboro, NC32.648183141136 109Bellevue, WA32.62192268546 110Henderson, NV32.60951475962 111Rockford, IL32.46921496488 112Tampa, FL32.331205552194 113Shreveport, LA32.3232167148171 114St. Paul, MN32.31198732058 115Savannah, GA32.275695154180 116Spokane, WA32.181691114140 117Mesa, AZ32.131097810799 118Orange, CA32.02118129672 119Aurora, IL32.001039610281 120Naperville, IL31.99981706281 121Grand Prairie, TX31.7463196130155 121Fontana, CA31.74160431822 123Indianapolis, IN31.681862713680 124Corpus Christi, TX31.6748193142170 125Richmond, VA31.6513937162131 126Chandler, AZ31.461128411899 127Scottsdale, AZ31.469712211699 128Salinas, CA31.371681603726 129Columbus, GA31.3679140140166 130Huntington Beach, CA31.19137651712 131Denton, TX31.1639165145155 132Gilbert, AZ31.1511510510099 133Santa Ana, CA31.00165981252 134Anaheim, CA30.71138751722 135Escondido, CA30.661514419033 136Yonkers, NY30.6594159132115 137Aurora, CO30.611241049989 138Fort Lauderdale, FL30.601027489189 139Garden Grove, CA30.561581091382 140Detroit, MI30.531307614653 141Joliet, IL30.521001818281 142Torrance, CA30.501431231052 143Pasadena, TX30.316118636183 144Augusta, GA30.3071151157187 145Chattanooga, TN30.2117128177153 146Glendale, CA30.151611141472 147Cary, NC30.1386166133147 148Baton Rouge, LA30.1227132191188 149Akron, OH30.118917616570 150Elk Grove, CA29.9316611512137 151Fullerton, CA29.80149861642 152Peoria, AZ29.7811915312899 153Jackson, MS29.7746195188175 154Chula Vista, CA29.6616411013733 155Riverside, CA29.601321571632 156Fayetteville, NC29.5184175174147 157Fort Wayne, IN29.47189907351 158Glendale, AZ29.2511115215699 159Hayward, CA29.2515017412926 160Worcester, MA29.141789410154 161Fresno, CA29.0213115815850 162Newark, NJ28.96128178108125 163Knoxville, TN28.8416287151114 164Lancaster, CA28.711361211892 165San Bernardino, CA28.681481021922 166Spring Valley, NV28.6410519911462 167Oxnard, CA28.451631621762 168Springfield, MA28.421791349655 169Modesto, CA28.4114212016672 170Lakewood, CO28.3712512615089 171Ontario, CA28.271531361852 172Tacoma, WA28.1517315010946 173Oceanside, CA27.9814017217333 174Virginia Beach, VA27.94187103103132 175Paterson, NJ27.62145198139115 176Thornton, CO27.6212913817989 177Corona, CA27.501271791952 178Rancho Cucamonga, CA27.471521371962 179Bakersfield, CA27.2713513918487 180Palmdale, CA27.161471901942 181Hollywood, FL27.1317722197189 182Sunrise Manor, NV27.0610519917562 183Moreno Valley, CA27.051671851932 184Memphis, TN26.9419664170138 185St. Petersburg, FL26.8818885115194 186Santa Clarita, CA26.731571192002 187Port St. Lucie, FL26.7218513178181 188Norfolk, VA26.6618016493132 189Tallahassee, FL26.6417613595197 190Newport News, VA26.3319097144132 191Cape Coral, FL25.2919118984200 192Stockton, CA25.0815618819872 193Chesapeake, VA24.80195144161132 194Murfreesboro, TN24.67193145167143 195Enterprise, NV24.6310519419962 196Hialeah, FL24.47200146106189 197Pembroke Pines, FL24.25199156120189 198Jacksonville, FL23.93181133183196 199Miramar, FL23.62197191127189 200Clarksville, TN23.10194197181143
Highlights and Lowlights
Chicago Wins the Race
Hold on to your bells, handlebars, and everything in between — the Windy City is our inaugural Naked Biking Capital.
Chi Town not only finished first in the Popularity category, but it’s also one of a handful that hosts a (warning: NSFW) World Naked Bike Ride. It’s au(nly) naturel that locals can barely contain their excitement about the event: Chicagoans searched for “naked bike ride” more times in the past 12 months than Googlers in any of the other 199 cities.
Chicago’s quite safe for biking in your birthday suit, too (No. 5). Contrary to popular belief, Chicago isn’t as windy as its nickname suggests. The average wind speed here tops out at 10.3 mph. Strong breezes are a bigger danger in Boston, our No. 10 and the actual windiest city in America.
Keeping Austin Weird and Naked
Austin, which finished No. 4 overall, sped past the other 199 cities in our Naked-Biking Friendliness category, thanks to some of the most lax public nudity and bicycling laws in the U.S. It’s one of only four cities where total nudity won’t land you a ticket or jail time.
Austin’s No. 4 ranking makes sense, then, for a city with the 30th highest nudist population, who frequent the naturist haven Hippie Hollow Park.
The city even had its own local near-naked biking fixture, Leslie Cochran, years before there was ever a Naked Bike Ride. He’s gone now, but there’s a plaque in his memory on 6th Street.
Sore (Saddle) Losers
Better hide the family jewels before heading out for a ride in the South, which dominated the rear end of our ranking. Our not-so-bare bottom 10 includes cities like Clarksville, Tennessee (No. 1 worst), Jacksonville, Florida (No. 3), and Chesapeake, Virginia (No. 8).
What do they have in common? These are the cities where residents would clutch their pearls at the thought of biking — with only their pearls. In other words, they’re Conservative with a capital C. Objectively speaking, they simply performed poorly in just about every category.
Ironically, though, some of these cities have a liberal streak. For example, Jacksonville ranks third worst overall but is home to an above-average nudist population — in size, that is. Clarksville also has many nudist residents despite finishing last. Clearly, there are plenty of closet nudists in these conservative cities.
Florida Leads — in Bike Fatalities
Naked biking might mean “clothing-optional,” but it’s always smart to wear a helmet, especially in the Sunshine State. Here’s why: Five Florida cities — Hollywood, Tampa, and St. Petersburg among them — make up half of our top 10 cities with the most biking-related deaths per 100,000 residents.
That’s a bit of a head-scratcher, considering most of these cities boast high Bike Scores and many roads in great shape. In fact, Jacksonville has the lowest share of bad roads among all 200 cities. Fort Lauderdale and Tampa have programs curbing traffic deaths and injuries.
This city-level trend tracks with national stats. Of the 846 total U.S. bike deaths in 2019, nearly a fifth occurred in Florida. Failure to yield the right of way and collisions with light trucks were mostly to blame. So, when turning (or turning heads) on your bike in Florida, watch out for light trucks.
Begging to Bike in Their Birthday Suits
Some of the cities that Googled “naked bike ride” the most times over the past 12 months either aren’t participating in the global event this year or have never hosted one.
Cities like New York (No. 12), San Diego (No. 25), and Atlanta (No. 28) held naked bike rides pre-pandemic but haven’t committed to doing so in 2022, likely for the same reason.
On the other hand (or in this case the other cheek), Nashville, Tennessee, has never hosted a naked bike ride but ranked No. 8 in total Google searches yet 106th overall. Clearly, the people of Nashville — and previous host cities — need an outlet for their bare-biking dreams.
Behind the Ranking
For each of the 200 biggest U.S. cities, we first gathered publicly available data on the factors listed in the table below.
We then grouped those factors into four categories: Naked Biking-Friendliness, Popularity, Safety, and Climate.
Next, we calculated weighted scores for each city in each category.
Finally, we averaged the scores for each city across all categories. The city that earned the highest average score is considered “Best” (No. 1), while the city with the lowest is “Worst” (No. 200).
Sources: Bike Index, City-Data.com, CriminalDefenseLawyer, FindLaw, The Frisky, Google Ads, The League of American Bicyclists, Meetup, National Center for Disaster Preparedness, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Refinery29, TRIP, True Nudists, U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, USA Cycling, Vision Zero Network, Walk Score, World Naked Bike Ride, World Population Review, and Yelp
Disclaimer: This report is intended to provide entertainment value only. It should not be relied upon as a source of legal information. Our research on public nudity and toplessness laws is limited to aggregated data from several sources listed above, which may be updated without our knowledge. It is each reader’s responsibility to verify the most current rules in their city and/or state.
Exposing the Truth About Bike Fatalities
World Naked Bike Ride is in full swing until September, and cities across the U.S. are gearing up for their own.
The global movement, with “bare as you dare” as its motto, started in 2003 to protest the world’s oil dependency. Since then, the cause has aimed to expose the vulnerability of cyclists in a car-centric society and promote body positivity.
In the U.S., preventable bike deaths have risen 44% over the past decade, and they tend to peak in August.
Why is LawnStarter ranking cities on naked biking? Our Best Cities for Naked Gardening study is a favorite from year to year, so why not rank the Best Cities for Naked Biking?
Whatever you might do naked in your garden or on a bicycle is your business, but don’t ever mow your lawn naked. Wielding any kind of lawn care equipment in the buff is far more dangerous than a road rash from falling off your bike in the buff.
Main Photo Credit: Paul Sableman, CC BY 2.0, via Flickr