Better health, lesser pollution, saves gas, saves money, saves the environment – the benefits of using a bicycle over a car are endless – and the sooner one realises this, the better! In today’s world, where cars have become more of a status symbol than a mode of commuting, there still exist a few sensible cities where (sensible) people prefer bikes over cars. Here’s a list of 10 bike-friendly cities where cycling is much more than a form of exercise – it’s a way of life (pack your backs and emigrate now!).
1. Amsterdam, Netherlands
It would be a tad unfair to start this list with any other city than the ‘bicycling capital of Europe,’ Amsterdam! No, there are no contenders for this spot. Known to be one of the most bike-friendly cities across the globe, Amsterdam goes all guns blazing in promoting biking with its massive network of biking lanes, availability of public bikes, and a distinctive bike culture that sees no age or class barriers (evident by the fact that over 40% of the city’s commuters prefer shuttling by bicycles!).
2. Paris, France
Thinking of the charming quays and punts along the river Siene, the soaring Eiffel tower, and the quaint cobbled streets, there’s definitely no better way to explore Paris than on bike. Besides, Paris is home to the ‘Velib’ – one of the world’s largest public bike rental programs! With over 20,000 bikes distributed over 1,450 bike rental stations across the city (ride for free if you need the bike for less than 30 mins), Paris scores BIG on its bike-friendly reputation.
3. Copenhagen, Denmark
Women in high-heeled boots, women in jilbabs, men in suits, parents with toddlers strapped into child seats, students heading to university, children going to school – the incredible diversity of Danes commuting on bicycles in Copenhagen is truly striking. Yes, almost one-third of Danes, move around near or far, on bikes. The efficient bike infrastructure here and the superb biking network takes the biking culture here to a new level altogether.
4. Berlin, Germany
Silently trying to catch up with its European neighbours, Berlin’s boost in biking has been impressive too (considering Germany’s history with manufacturing cars)! Wide streets, flat terrain, proper infrastructure, a booming bike culture, and just the right attitude towards biking, contributes a lot towards the realm of biking in Berlin.
5. Portland, Oregon, USA
Often referred to as the “bicycle capital of the US”, Portland, Oregon; sees bicycling deeply rooted in its culture, which is almost like a way of life for the citizens of the city. Giving out the feel of a European city, Portland incorporates over hundreds of miles of bike paths, bike lanes, low-traffic bike boulevards, and more, in its biking arsenal. Besides, there are an array of races, rides and biking events held annually in Portland, heavily adding to the ‘fun’ element in biking.
6. Trondheim, Norway
Hands down, Norway is one of the most scenic countries on the planet. Brimming with lakes, fjords, mountains, meadows, and glaciers, exploring this surreal country on bike is bound to be something unforgettable. Especially Trondheim, a city in Norway, is the ultimate place for a cycling tour, since it is home to the ‘Trampe’ – the world’s first bicycle lift! This lift acts like a ski tow, carrying cyclists’ uphill, without them having to pedal! So basically, pedalling uphill is never going to be problem as long as you’re in Trondheim – how amazing is that!
7. Barcelona, Spain
Etching its name amongst the premier bicycle-friendly cities of Europe, Barcelona’s rise on this front has been nothing less than impressive. The credit for this goes to the ‘Bicing’ service that was initiated by the city in 2007. This nifty bicycle service provides users a card, which they can use to take and leave a bicycle from any of the 100 stations across the city! Ample bike parking spaces, extensive network and paths, and numerous biking events each year, further alleviate and encourage the use of bicycles.
8. Basel, Switzerland
When it comes to Switzerland, there is hardly need for explanation as to why cycling anywhere in this drop-dead-stunning country is going to be something legendary. Basel, in Switzerland is a great place to kick-start your Swiss biking adventure. Dotted with grapevines, meadows, a picturesque countryside, as well as an array of flawless bicycle paths and designated lanes, Basel is an absolute delight for cycling aficionados.
9. Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo? Yes, Tokyo! What better inspiration to other cities than one of the world’s largest cities preferring bicycles over cars. Since the distances in Tokyo tend to be long, not many people prefer cycling to work, however, cycling is a big hit with the locals when it comes to getting around the neighbourhood and covering short distances. Nearly 14% of all trips undertaken in Tokyo, are made on bike. Though you won’t find dedicated bicycle paths here, biking on the sidewalks and footpaths sure sounds adventurous enough and fun!
10. Bogota, Colombia
Shifting the focus from Europe to South America, Bogota in Colombia sure has an edge over its other Latin American counterparts. A perfect model of change for cities throughout Latin America, Bogota keeps its cyclists happy with miles and miles of dedicated bike paths, and a weekly Sunday event known as ‘Ciclovia’, wherein, over 70 miles of streets are closed for vehicles and are dedicated solely to pedestrians and cyclists!