Bicycles have made a serious comeback over the last decade. They're cheap, healthy and beating the traffic always feels good - and that's not even to mention the benefit to the environment. No wonder so many cities are working on strategies to be more cycle-friendly. Now's the perfect time to get on your bike, especially in these ten tourist hotspots:
Amsterdam is so accommodating for bikers that more people are peddling to where they need to go than using any other transport. In fact, the city's bike lanes run for 240 miles and bike rental and repair companies are everywhere, so getting involved in bike culture is easy, even if you're on a short trip. Year after year, you'll find Amsterdam at the top of the Copenhagenize Index, a list that rates the world's bike-friendly cities.
The majority of Berlin residents don't own a car, because around half a million people cycle to and from work every day. To accommodate the cyclists, an extensive city-wide route has been set aside just for bikes. These are wide, clearly-marked paths that make it easy to join in with the city's bike culture. You won't have trouble finding facilities either, as companies like Berlin On Bike offer cheap daily cycle rentals and guided bike tours of the city's main attractions.
Bristol is a hilly place, which isn't always great news for cyclists - especially beginners. Still, the city is working to make it as easy as possible to change from petrol to peddles. Recently, the Pedal Power program has introduced ecologically-sound tricycles and the city has hosted the Bespoked UK Handmade Bicycle Show for the last six years. It might not be up there with Copenhagen yet, but the stage is set for big things to come.
You aren't meant to rush around Budapest. The city is like a museum that should be viewed at ground level. So, while paths aren't as suited for biking as some places, it's really the best way to see the city. In 2013, Critical Mass Budapest organised a rally across the Margit Bridge asking the city for better bike routes and the city is listening.
During the recession of the 70s, Copenhagen had to enforce Car-Free Sundays to conserve its resources, so the city is now a haven for cyclists and has 390 kilometers of cycle lanes, lock-up racks and free bicycle rentals. More than half the local population peddles to and from work, and every year the city invests more in its cycling infrastructure. Copenhagen is even creating a smartphone app that will let you book a rental bike from any Metro station to your destination.
According to Dublin Cycling, the number of bikes on the road in the city has gone up by 70% since 2004. As such, the city has made huge investments in new cycle routes, but the demand has already exceeded the supply.
Notorious hipster city, Portland is known for being environmentally conscious. You'd fit right in while squeaking around the city on a gearless cruiser with streamers on the handlebars and an ironic political sticker plastered on the frame. For all the grief people give Portland's cool kids, it's an amazing city that has a commuter bike program that caters for low-income families by offering an eco-alternative to the bus and the city has over 300 miles of bike lanes that connect the outer suburbs to the central business districts.
According to Sydney Cycleways, more than a million Australians drive less than five kilometres to work; under 15 minutes in a car. In response, Sydney has invested a lot of time and money into making cycle paths through business districts, suburbs and popular areas, and the city hosts free cycling courses that educate new and seasoned riders about biking along the demarcated routes, basic road safety and how to perform bike repairs. The award-winning YHA Hostel overlooking the harbour even has a dedicated bike repair area with tools, a lock-up and storage unit.
The nemesis of any Tokyo commuter is the dreaded traffic, so its no wonder the city's residents have embraced cycling. While the roads are crowded, speed limits are sternly enforced and motorists are courteous towards cyclists. The city's bike stations also save you from the impossible task of finding a free parking space. If you're nervous about going alone, you'll find a number of bike tours around the city to guide you while you find your feet.
Vancouver has embraced its growing population of cyclers by mapping out an extensive set of bike routes around the city. "Vancouver is incredibly bike-friendly. Not only are there existing bike lanes along the gorgeous 13-mile sea wall, but the city was also one of the first in North America to create a low-cost, low-impact network by creating bikeways along residential streets with relatively light traffic volumes. It's all part of the mayor's plan to make Vancouver the greenest city in the world by 2020", says Shannon Heth-Vergette, a PR executive for The Loden, a boutique hotel in the city that offers guests free use of their cruiser bikes.
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