When it comes to biking, not all cities are created equally. Some cities have a stronger culture of commuting by bike than others, and thus put infrastructures in place to accommodate cyclists and keep them safe. Some cities may also provide great off road trails for bikers to test their skills while others provide great scenic views of urban landscapes, nature, and historical sites. Taking all that and more into consideration, here are ten of the best biking-friendly cities around the world.
It’s the biking capital of the world, and estimates claim there are more than 800,000 bikes in Amsterdam. This essentially means there are more bikes than people. Residents commute by bike to get to work, school, or the grocery store, and it’s not uncommon to see adults transporting small children, pets, suitcases, and even furniture, on a bicycle.
This is perhaps the one city in the world where cyclists have earned the right of way, usually just by their sheer numbers. The government also took great pains to ensure residents and tourists could cycle safely. There are a great labyrinth of bike paths so safe that even the elderly and toddlers use them.
Some trace this development’s origins back to the 1970s when more than 400 children died in one year due to traffic accidents. This led to protests compelled the government to enforce better conditions for bikers to ride safely through the city.
Some might describe Paris as a cyclist’s haven. There are bike paths all over the city – along bridges, down one-way streets, and on the fringes of boulevards. Sometimes bike paths are even painted on sidewalks. There’s also a public bike rental system called Vélib, making it easier for tourists and residents to travel by bike.
With all the great nature views, historical sites, and beautiful architecture, there’s also much to see while touring the city. Tourists can hire guides to take them through the most scenic routes. Some of the best routes include the Alp d’Huez of Paris and the Hidden Garden Route.
Considered the biking capital of America by some, Minneapolis has successfully built something like a freeway for cyclists. Rather than run biking traffic alongside regular traffic, Minneapolis carved out a completely different path for cyclists.
The Grand Rounds Scenic Byway circles the city like I-285 does for cars in Atlanta. To build these bike lanes, the city made use of old railroad lines and began to connect different bike paths together. This allows cyclists to commute worry-free. There’s no concern about someone randomly opening a car door and knocking you off your bike, cars swerving or turning into the bike lane, or cars honking for cyclists to get out of the way.
Many tourists opt for public transportation or crowded tour buses to get a great view of Barcelona, but nothing beats a bicycle in this Spanish city. Biking is such a popular way to commute that residents can pay an annual fee to get a card allowing them to use bicycles from terminals all over Barcelona. According to Strava, some of the best routes include the 51-mile-long La Conreria-Sant Mateu-Céllecs, and the 72-mile-long Penedès.
This Austrian city provides 745 miles in bicycle paths, often bypassing areas with lots of traffic. This makes commuting by bicycle a very attractive option in Vienna. There are also many bike tours taking cyclists through the city and into the countryside. The countryside bike tours offer amazing views of the city and take cyclists through vineyards and other beautiful landscapes.
A local in Savannah once joked that most people bike out of necessity, since the lax drinking laws of this party town in Georgia often lead to plenty of DUIs and suspended licenses. But whatever the reason, it’s difficult to go anywhere in Savannah without running into cyclists, bike tours, and specialty bike shops. There are also plenty of bike trails for cyclists who love outdoor adventuring.
Germany in general ranks as a very bike-friendly place to live, and Hamburg is just one of the many German cities cyclists love. In 2011, almost 15% of daily trips happened on a bike, meaning more than 41 million biking trips per day. The number of cyclists continued to grow, since then.
There is even a bicycle sharing system called StadtRAD Hamburg, and it boasts roughly quarter of a million users. To boot, the city is also the annual home of the Vattenfall Cyclassics, and this attracts a lot of tourists alongside some of the best riders. Other cycling events include the Youngclassics, the Specialclassics, and the Vattenfall Schul-Cup.
While this Spanish city is nowhere near Paris or Amsterdam when it comes to creating a cyclist’s haven, Seville invested in bike lane projects to encourage residents to commute by bicycle, and it’s taken off. Since the building of the lanes, the average number of cyclists commuting each day has risen from 6,000 to over 70,000. The lines are also accessible by wheelchair users.
Over the past few years, Dublin struggled hard to build its image as a great city for cyclists, in spite of bad publicity from traffic accidents involving cyclists. Nevertheless, the Irish city is small enough for cyclists to commute just about anywhere and includes parks, beaches, mountains, shops, and canals along the way. Some of the best places to visit by bike are Sutton via Fairview, Georgian Dublin, and Howth Head via Malahide.
There are so many (plausible) reasons people would not think to add Montreal as one of the best places to be a cyclist. After all, it gets pretty cold and the streets are hilly. This makes it a pleasant surprise on the list. But how? Every year the Tour de L’Île, an annual mass bike ride involving up to 30,000 participants, takes place in Montreal. The bike tour has since encouraged many people to start biking and keeps cyclists on the streets for as long as it’s warm enough to ride.
There are many cities around the world that encourage residents to bike. When it comes to tourism, some cities are also better viewed from a bicycle than from an overstuffed tour bus window. To make this possible, cities around the world continually invest resources in bike paths, bike passes, and even big bike tours and races to grow the number of cyclists taking to the streets.