15 of the World’s Most Bike-Friendly Cities

istock
istock

Biking is a great way to stay active and reduce your carbon footprint. Here are some cities that are actively encouraging this green mode of transportation. 

1. COPENHAGEN, DENMARK 


Copenhagen is often considered the most bike-friendly city in the world. Tourists are often overwhelmed by the number of bicycles flying by, and children are taught to ride before they’re even old enough to go to school. Thanks to bicycle-friendly measures taken by the city, nearly half of all Copenhageners commute to work by bike, and 35 percent of all people who work in Copenhagen—those who live in the suburbs included—commute on their bicycles. Cyclists enjoy 390 kilometers (about 242 miles) of designated bike lanes, and Greater Copenhagen now has a “Cycle Super Highway” which connects the city to the town of Albertslund with plenty of amenities along the way, like air pumps, safer intersections, and traffic lights timed to average cycling speed to minimize stopping.

2. AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS 


You can’t really experience Amsterdam without taking a spin on a bicycle. There are over 800,000 bicycles in Amsterdam, which means there are more bikes than people. The relatively flat streets often filled with bicycles: People use them to go to work, drop children at school, and cart around groceries. If you’re visiting, there are plenty of places for tourists to rent a bicycle and start exploring, not to mention guided tours and illustrated booklets intended to help newcomers learn how to get around efficiently. 

3. PORTLAND, OREGON 


It’s hard to beat Europe in terms of bicycle-friendliness, but Portland is trying its best. The Portland Bureau of Transportation is slowly making improvements to help citizens and tourists safely get around safely on two wheels. Cyclists can snag free printed city and neighborhood maps, safety information, and more to help better navigate when visiting. There’s also a public bike rental system that’s considered one of the greenest in the world; they’ve managed to cut down the need for excess kiosks by utilizing pre-existing bike corrals. The city offers other amenities, too, including bike lockers, bike riding classes, and etiquette guides. 

4. BOULDER, COLORADO

Boulder’s residents already have a reputation for their love of the outdoors, so it makes sense that cycling would be a popular way to get around. The city’s 300 miles of bikeways include on-street bike lanes, contra-flow bike lanes, designated bike routes, paved shoulders, multi-use paths, and soft-surface paths. There’s also a bike registration program to help protect bicycles from theft. 

5. MONTREAL, CANADA 


The bustling Canadian city of Montreal has an impressive 600 kilometres (about 373 miles) of bike paths—almost twice as many as Copenhagen. In the spring, cyclists take to these designated paths, making pit stops along the way at various food and drink stands. What’s more, each year the city hosts a bike festival, welcoming bikers of all ages and skill levels to take a tour around town. 

6. TOKYO, JAPAN 


About 14 percent of all commuters in Tokyo are bicycle riders. While that may seem paltry compared to Copenhagen’s impressive 50 percent, it’s impressive considering how large and dense Tokyo actually is. Those who choose to hop on a bike can enjoy ample parking, lots of bike paths, and cycling tours. Japan is also known for making wonderfully constructed bicycles that stand the test of time. 

7. RIO DE JANIERO, BRAZIL 


Rio got on board with bicycles in 1992, which is when they first started building bike lanes. Today, the city has a thriving cyclist population. Their new bike-sharing program boasts 60 stations and 600 bicycles distributed throughout the city. Bike Rio offers monthly passes for R$ 10,00 (that’s about $2.50 in U.S. dollars), allowing residents and visitors unlimited access to the program’s bikes. On the weekends, riders can take a trip on one of the beach avenues for a lovely view of the water as they ride. 

8. STRASBOURG, FRANCE 


The little city of Strasbourg is a great place to bike—mainly because it’s really, really pretty. Eight percent of the city’s population currently rides a bicycle, but the city is working hard to get that number up. They aim to double the number of cyclists by 2025. 

9. BARCELONA, SPAIN 


Barcelona is taking baby steps towards becoming a more hospitable place for bikers. They continue to expand their system of bike paths, and their bike share program is one of the most frequently used in the world. Bicycle safety is also a huge priority: city officials have recently instituted measures intended to slow car traffic. If you’re just visiting, there are a number of different bike tours you can sign up for—and plenty of scenic paths that pass right by the water. 

10. BUDAPEST, HUNGARY 


Residents of Budapest can currently get around town on 200 kilometers (124 miles) of cycling paths, which bring riders through the center city or in and around its many stunning parks. The city also offers a number of guided tours, including one that ends with a nice bowl of goulash.

11. AUSTIN, TEXAS 

Austin is committed to helping its residents live greener lives, and it shows in their biking initiatives. There are plenty of paths and hundreds of bike racks for riders to use. If you’re visiting, pick up a cycling map from one of the town’s many bike shops, then hit the trail. There are three major paths to help riders navigate downtown: the Lance Armstrong Bikeway, the Rio Grande Roadway, and the Pfluger Bicycle and Pedestrian Bridge.

12. PARIS, FRANCE 


Thanks to flat roads, slow traffic, and conscientious drivers, Paris is a remarkably easy place to ride a bike. The city’s Vélib bike-sharing program is the largest in the world outside of China. (The name is a mashup of the words vélo, meaning bike, and liberté, meaning freedom). There are about 20,000 rental bikes available at 1800 stations throughout town. Since the introduction of the bike-sharing program in 2007, bikeways have begun to pop up all over the bustling city. 

13. SEVILLE, SPAIN 


Seville is no match for cities like Amsterdam or Copenhagen, but they’re quickly becoming a contender in the battle to be “bicycle friendliest.” Seville offers 160 kilometers (100 miles) of bike paths, and sees about 70,000 bicycles hitting the streets every day. Compare this to the measly 6000 bicycles being used just a few years ago, and it quickly becomes apparent how much effort the city has put into upping their cycling game. They too offer a bike-sharing program (Sevici), which has been running for eight years, and bike shop owners claim that lately, they’ve been struggling to keep up with demand as more and more residents have taken to pedaling the streets. 

14. DUBLIN, IRELAND 


Dublin’s bike-sharing program, dublinbikes, features more than 100 stations across the city, and an annual subscription costs just €20 (about $22). A number of tour companies in Dublin offer guided excursions too, tailored to both beginner and advanced cyclists.

15. BERLIN, GERMANY 

Bikers in Berlin make the most of the city’s flat terrain, wide streets, and numerous bikeways. The 900 kilometers (about 559 miles) of cycling paths make it easy to get around without worrying about car traffic. There are plenty of themed tours for tourists, often geared towards sports or food.

12 Behind-the-Scenes Secrets of Easter Bunnies

This child clearly can't get enough Easter Bunny in her life.
This child clearly can't get enough Easter Bunny in her life.
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Every year, thousands of families, church groups, and event planners enlist entertainment companies to dispatch a costumed bunny for their Easter celebrations. These performers often endure oppressive heat, frightened children, and other indignities to bring joy to the season.

It can be a thankless job, which is why Mental Floss approached several hares and their handlers for some insight into what makes for a successful appearance, the numerous occupational hazards, and why they can be harassed while holding a giant carrot. Here’s a glimpse of what goes on under the ears.

1. They might be watching netflix under the mask.

Has a bunny ever seemed slow to respond to your child? He or she might be in the middle of a binge-watch. Jennifer Ellison, the sales and marketing manager for San Diego Kids’ Party Rentals and a bunny wrangler during the Easter season, says that extended party engagements might lead their furry foot soldiers to seek distractions while in costume. “We book the bunny by the hour and he is often booked for multiple hour blocks,” she says. “Listening to music definitely helps the time pass.” One of her bunny friends who does a lot of shopping mall appearances has even rigged up a harness that can cradle a smart phone. “It sits above the bunny's nose, resting right at eye level for the performer inside, easily allowing the performer to stream Netflix, scroll through Facebook, or check emails.”

2. They can’t walk on wet grass.

Bunnies that appear at private functions, like backyard parties or egg hunts, have to maintain the illusion of being a character and not a human in a furry costume. According to Albert Joseph, the owner of Albert Joseph Entertainment in San Francisco and a 30-year veteran of Easter engagements, one of the cardinal rules is never to set foot on wet grass. Why? “They wear regular shoes under their giant bunny feet,” he says. “If they step on wet grass and then walk on cement, they’ll make a human foot print, not a bunny print.”

3. There’s a reason they might not pick up your kid.

Bunnies might be amenable to posing for a photo with your child on their lap, but they’re probably not going to grab the little tyke and sweep them off their feet. According to Steve Rothenberg, a veteran performer and owner of Talk of the Town Entertainment in Rockville, Maryland, deadlifting a kid is against the rules. “The last thing you want is to lift them up and have them knock off your head,” he says.

4. Giant carrots will invite inappropriate behavior.

A person dressed as the Easter bunny.
As the 3-foot-long carrot proves, adults are easily the least mature guests at a child's Easter party.
lisafx/iStock via Getty Images Plus

Joseph’s warren of party bunnies usually come equipped with a 3-foot-long giant carrot as a prop. While children are amused by the oversized vegetable, the adults at the parties usually can’t help making observations. “Practically every visit, there’s always someone saying, ‘My, what a big carrot you have,’” he says.

On one occasion, Joseph attended a function at a retirement home. One of the women, who he estimated to be in her 80s, commented on his big feet in a lascivious manner. “She told me she was in room 37.”

5. Clothes make the bunny.

Easter bunny at the White House.
Every year, a well-dressed Easter bunny visits Washington, D.C. for the annual White House Easter Egg Roll.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

While “naked” (i.e., unclothed) bunnies remain popular, Ellison’s lineup also includes Mr. Bunny, a “classy lad with a top hat and vest,” and a Mrs. Bunny sporting a purple dress. Why would kids care if a bunny has sartorial sense? “Kids can probably better relate to a giant, furry character if it's dressed like a human,” Ellison says. “[And] we just thought the costumes looked cute.”

6. They can’t wear dark clothing underneath.

If a bunny wants to wear a black shirt under his or her fur, it stands to reason there wouldn’t be any issue: It's all hidden from sight. But Joseph insists that his cast stick with white apparel only. In addition to being cooler, it serves a practical function. “There’s always an opportunity to see a little something around the neckline or near the feet,” he says. Light clothing helps preserve the character.

7. They use an upholstery cleaner for their heads.

Most bunny costumes can be tossed in any regular washing machine, with the feet going in a larger commercial-use unit. But the heads, which are typically massive and unwieldy, get special attention. “You know those upholstery cleaners you can rent from a grocery store?” Joseph asks. “We use those. There’s a wand attachment to it for cleaning carpet.”

8. There’s a trick to keeping cool.

Costumes made of fake fur in the spring can be a recipe for disaster—or at least some lightheadedness. While none of the bunnies we profiled had experienced fainting spells, Ellison says that the trick to staying cool is actually adding a layer underneath the outfit. “Light, breathable clothing underneath the suit usually does the trick, but some people choose to wear an ice vest under the suit as well.”

Many bunnies also work in intervals: 45 to 50 minutes “on,” and 10 to 15 minutes in a private area to cool off and drink water. “Clients are usually understanding and sympathetic of the bunny and will allow even more breaks if necessary,” Ellison says.

9. Mints are essential.

Bunnies may favor carrots and grass, but their human operators need something other than that in order to deal with the humidity. Rothenberg says that his bunnies usually nibble on mints while working a crowd. “They’ll typically chew gum or have some kind of mint to keep their throat from drying out,” he says.

10. They use bunny handlers to prevent knockdowns.

A person dressed as the Easter bunny.
An Easter Bunny makes a young girl's day.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Any professional bunny knows that having an assistant watching their back is the best way to ensure an appearance goes smoothly. “Your vision is limited and you can’t really look to the left or right,” Rothenberg says. “Having an assistant prevents kids from running up behind you.”

11. They have damaged butts.

In order to ease apprehensive kids, Joseph advocates for his bunnies to squat near a child rather than bend over. “It gets them at a child’s level so they can touch and feel for themselves,” he says. “But a bunny that does a lot of squatting winds up needing their [costume] butts re-sewn. I’ve repaired a lot of them.” Joseph will also invite mothers to sit on the bunny’s lap so fearful children are more likely to approach. “You don’t want to prod the kid,” he says.

12. They’re not just for easter.

While bunny costume season is a fleeting few weeks, companies are happy to roll out their rabbits for other occasions. Once, Ellison sent out a bunny for a customer’s Alice in Wonderland-themed gathering. “The client wanted the White Rabbit, so we dressed up our bunny in a vest and top hat and gave him an over-sized pocket watch. It worked out great.”

This piece originally ran in 2017.

The 48 Most Frequently Banned Wedding Songs

Bogdan Kurylo/iStock via Getty Images
Bogdan Kurylo/iStock via Getty Images

Who among us hasn't attended a wedding and cringed at the playlist? In 2017, stats/polling site FiveThirtyEight asked more than two dozen professional DJs who had DJ’d around 200 weddings what songs couples ban from their weddings and, after surveying 182 wedding playlists, came up with a list of 48 songs. They gave each song a percentage, which represents the share of weddings that banned the song.

The first 10 on the list represent silly dances people like to do but shouldn’t do, like The Chicken Dance, The Macarena, and The Electric Slide. After that, the list starts to see overplayed songs like “Don’t Stop Believin',’” “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” “Dancing Queen,” and “Sweet Caroline,” and call-and-response songs like “Shout.” The list contains a mix of new and old hip-hop, R&B, and pop hits, and several songs ended up tied.

Interestingly, a few songs from FiveThirtyEight’s 2016 ultimate wedding playlist also appear on the banned list, including “Hey Ya!,” “Uptown Funk,” “Sweet Caroline,” and “Call Me Maybe.”

You may or may not agree with this list, but don’t feel bad if you decide to ban any of these songs from your own wedding playlist—chances are, someone out there agrees with you.

  1. “The Chicken Dance”

  1. “Cha-Cha Slide” // DJ Casper

  1. “Macarena” // Los Del Rio

  1. “Cupid Shuffle” // Cupid

  1. “YMCA” // Village People

  1. “Electric Boogie (Electric Slide)” // Marcia Griffiths

  1. “Hokey Pokey”

  1. “Wobble” // V.I.C.

  1. “Happy” // Pharrell Williams

  1. “Shout” // Isley Brothers

  1. “Love Shack” // The B-52's

  1. “We Are Family” // Sister Sledge

  1. “Blurred Lines” // Robin Thicke

  1. “Celebration” // Kool & The Gang

  1. Cotton Eye Joe” // Rednex

  1. “Dancing Queen” // ABBA

  1. “Don’t Stop Believin’” // Journey

  1. “Single Ladies” // BeyoncÉ

  1. “Sweet Caroline” // Neil Diamond

  1. “Turn Down for What” // DJ Snake & Lil Jon

  1. “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)” // SilentÓ

  1. “Hot in Herre” // Nelly

  1. “Mony Mony” // Billy Idol

  1. “All About That Bass” // Meghan Trainor

  1. “Baby Got Back” // Sir Mix-a-Lot

  1. “Booti Call” // Blackstreet

  1. “Gangnam Style” // Psy

  1. “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)” // Big & Rich

  1. “Stayin’ Alive” // Bee Gees

  1. “Sweet Home Alabama” // Lynyrd Skynyrd

  1. “Uptown Funk” // Mark Ronson & Bruno Mars

  1. “Wagon Wheel” // Nathan Carter

  1. “What Do You Mean?” // Justin Bieber

  1. “All of Me” // John Legend

  1. “Bohemian Rhapsody” // Queen

  1. “Brown Eyed Girl” // Van Morrison

  1. “Call Me Maybe” // Carly Rae Jepsen

  1. “Footloose” // Kenny Loggins

  1. “Get Low” // Lil Jon

  1. “Hey Ya!” // Outkast

  1. “Hotline Bling” // Drake

  1. “I Will Survive” // Gloria Gaynor

  1. “My Heart Will Go On” // CÉline Dion

  1. “SexyBack” // Justin Timberlake

  1. “Shake It Off” // Taylor Swift

  1. “Sugar” // Maroon 5

  1. “Total Eclipse of the Heart” // Bonnie Tyler

  1. “You Shook Me All Night Long” // AC/DC

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER