A casual bike ride can show you sides of a city not seen on foot and can transport you to distant attractions in no time. But not all bike lanes are created equal. Here are 10 cities that are particularly hospitable to two-wheeled tours.
Amsterdam is bike-friendly to a fault. With more bikes than people, the city is structured with cyclists in mind. Low speed limits in the centre curb the impact of the four-wheeled menace, while bike racks on public transport make it easy to take a load off if the saddle gets to be too much. Rental shops are ubiquitous, the terrain is famously flat, and an online bike-specific route planner makes it especially easy for non-locals to get around. Further afield, a countryside of tulip fields and windmills lies within a 30-minute ride from the city centre. It’s no wonder almost half of Amsterdammers commute on two wheels.
Not riding a bike in Copenhagen is like not riding the trains in India – you’re missing out on a quintessential part of the experience. It’s just a nice bonus that riding a bike is the most convenient way to wander around Copenhagen’s best attractions. Bike lanes abound, as do bike lane-specific traffic signaling. Though Copenhagen’s famous free city bike share recently closed down, a new system is expected soon. The new “gobike” system should prove to be even better than before, promising to incorporate tablet PC’s into the bikes for a 21st century spin on 19th century technology.
If there’s one city in North America built for bicycles, it’s Montreal. However, it’s only been in the past decade that the city has exploited its compact size for the benefit of the cyclist, installing hundreds of kilometers of bike lanes around the city, many segregated from traffic. Coupled with a thriving bike culture and scenic routes around and to its most famous parks, the city makes hopping on a bike an easy decision. And if you don’t already have one, Montreal is home to Bixi, the public bike share company that has exported its modular bike share system technology around the world, from Melbourne to Minneapolis.
Bogota’s ciclorutas crisscross the city, offering cyclists the chance to explore the Colombian capital in the company of the locals. It is by far the most bike-friendly city in South America, with arguably the most extensive bike path network in the world. The cycling network has been integrated with the local bus system, which offers bike parking at stops and stations, and it has been specifically designed to allow bike traffic to flow over Bogota’s topography. Each Sunday several primary and secondary roads are closed to automobiles for the leisurely enjoyment of cyclists and pedestrians.
Cycling has been a part of Barcelona’s infrastructure for ages. Any visit to tourist districts of the city will uncover a dozen or more bike tour operators vying for his business. Of course, this enthusiasm for cycling implies that it’s just as easy to tour the sights of the city on your own. In a few hours of riding you can see the iconic Gaudi sculptures in Parc Guell, the Sagrada Familia, the massive Nou Camp soccer stadium and the famous cityside sand of Barcelona beach. The city’s protected cycle lanes and well-signed navigational aids will ensure that you won’t get lost.