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 5 cities that are particularly hospitable to two-wheeled tours.
Western Australia’s isolated capital is actually one of the most liveable metropolises in the world thanks to unimpeachable weather and smart city design. A large chunk of the intelligent infrastructure work has come in the form of hundreds of kilometres of bike paths, which allow Perthites to get into and around their city with ease. Commuters enjoy bike lockers and change stations, which are found across the city. For the visitor, numerous scenic routes line the coastline and the local Swan River. What’s more, the best way to see Rottnest Island, a vehicle-free nature park just next to the city, is naturally by bicycle.
American cities are historically notoriously anti-bike. The road networks and suburbs were built for automobiles, long commutes and few pedestrians. But Portland, America’s favourite oddball and progressive city, is decidedly at the forefront of the American bicycle revolution. More than its ubiquitous bike lanes and popular bike share program, the thing that sets Portland apart is the rabid bike culture. The city boasts more cyclists per capita than anywhere else in America, and many restaurants and cafes maintain bicycle parking racks. However, the biggest upshot of all this for the visitor whose chain has fallen off is that seemingly every second person is also a bike mechanic.
The mega-city of Tokyo has one of the most expansive and futuristic public transit networks on the planet, but its residents still swarm the streets (and sidewalks!) on their bicycles. Though the extent of bike lanes is still limited compared to other transit infrastructure, safe drivers help ease the tension between car and cyclist. Unique automated underground bike parking garages provide for a bit of a technological thrill when you need to stash your ride. Meanwhile, cycling tours of Tokyo are as popular as bike commuting is with the locals, as its the best way explore the world’s largest city on a more intimate level.
Paris‘ Velib’ public bike sharing system is second only to Hangzhou’s in size of fleet and extent. Some 20,000 Velib’ bikes prowl the almost 500 kilometers of bike paths around the French capital. And with so much to see, it’s nice to know that a healthy chunk of those bike paths are protected from manic Parisian motorists. The greatest feature of Paris’ bike system, however, is its ubiquity. A Velib’ station is almost always within sight, or just around the next corner. So after a moonlight cruise past the Eiffel Tower or a sunny ride down the Seine, you need not worry about being left in the lurch.
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. 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.