15 of the World’s Most Bike-Friendly Cities
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.