Biking is a great way to become intimate with a city and get excercise at the same time. There are many amazing cities for biking throughout the world - these gems allow you to explore the city at ease and safely. The 11 most accessible and bike friendly cities are listed below, but these are merely a sampling of the bike friendly paradises that exist throughout the world. (Please scroll to the end of the article for a look at the factors that went into determining this list.)
Amsterdam, a.k.a. the bike capital of the world, has 40% of all traffic movements by bicycle. They have created a bicycle friendly city that promotes a healthier, more active lifestyle for its residents. An extensive network of safe, fast and comfortable bicycle routes has been developed, the road safety of cyclists has been increased, a theft-prevention program was set up as well as the number of bicycle sheds increased.
Amsterdam is home to the famous Amsterdam Bike Ramp at Centraal Station which holds some 7000+ bikes for commuters to park while they travel by train.
Highlights: Designated street lanes and traffic signals. Bicycle safety concerns. Biking is core to its transportation infrastructure. Rent public bicycles. Underground sheds and outside racks, which hold thousands of bikes under guard. Large bicycle culture.
Portland has a varied bicycle network that connects all parts of the city. This network has proven successful in dramatically increasing bicycle use. Portland also has a strong bicycle culture where all types of cyclists can find opportunities to enjoy riding a bicycle. Portland's Create-a-Commuter program is the first project in the United States that provides low-income adults with commuter bicycles as well as a session on commuter safety. The bikes come outfitted with lights, a lock, a helmet, a pump, tool kits, maps and rainwear.
Much headway is being made in 2010 towards further expansion of the Portland Bicycle Network. Bicycle use has quadrupled over the last 20 years without any increase in crashes. The city still has 38 miles of bike lanes left in order to achieve its master plan. But in some neighborhoods bike commuters are as high as 9%.
Highlights: Extensive on/off road trails, designated street lanes, and traffic signals. Bicycle culture with Community Cycling Center that offers education and encouragement.
Named as one of Forbes Top Ten Places To Live In Europe, Copenhagen is also home to the world's most successful community bicycle program. In Denmark practically everybody has a bike, and for many years Copenhagen has been known as The City of Bikes. Copenhagen estimates that it spends between $10 million and $20 million per year on bike infrastructure additions and improvements.
Currently 32% of workers bicycle to work and 50 percent say they cycle to work because it is fast and easy. The city's bicycle paths are extensive and well-used. Bicycle paths are often separated from the main traffic lanes and sometimes have their own signal systems. Already one city neighborhood, the notorious commune Christiania, is completely car-free. In other places, cars are charged $5 per hour to park, so having a bike is a great money-saver.
The city provides public bicycles which can be found throughout the downtown area and used with a returnable deposit of 20 kroner, your money is refunded when you return the bike to one of many racks.
Highlights: Free public bicycles. Streets with dedicated lanes, paths and routes that are either clearly marked or separated from vehicular traffic by curbs. Bike paths and other bike-friendly facilities are a part of the planning of every new or rebuilt road. Large bicycle culture.
Great public programs that help promote safe biking and encourage its use such as Boulder Safe Routes to School pilot program. One school reported that 75 percent of their students walked or biked to school â€” a 620 percent increase from before the pilot. More than 4,000 people participate in Boulder's Bike to Work Day.
At least 95 percent of arterials have bike lanes or trails on them. They recently completed two major underpasses, and offers online bike mapping. Boulder has spent an average 15% of its transportation budget on building and maintaining bicycle traffic over the past five years
Highlights: Designated street lanes, traffic signals, and an in depth local bike map. Biking is core to its transportation infrastructure. Boulder's Bike to Work Day. Education and encouragement.
This small city of 65,000 people has over 100 miles of bike lanes and bike paths. 17% of Davis residents commute to work on bicycles. Davis was one of the first cities in the U.S. to actively start planning for and incorporating the bicycle into its transportation infrastructure. Davis residents enjoy an extensive network of bike lanes, bike paths, and grade-separated bicycle crossings. The flat terrain and temperate climate are also conducive to bicycling. City residents voted to get rid of public school busses many years ago, so many children walk or bike to school.
Davis has a comprehensive local bike map with tips and resources on the back. This map is multi-colored, it is free, and it is distributed through the city, university, and local bike shops. Bicycling is so core to this community's identity that the city's logo is a bike. The City of Davis and UC Davis are in the process of establishing a west coast bicycle museum. Davis has more bikes than cars and is the only place to earn platinum status on Bicycle Friendly Community's list of top cities. The city has a number of bike tunnels for riders to enjoy a seamless experience throughout the city.
Highlights: Designated street lanes, traffic signals, and an in depth local bike map. Biking is core to its transportation infrastructure. Month-long celebration of the bicycle called Cyclebration in May. The university, UC Davis, bans almost all car traffic. Major development funding. Vigorously Enforced Laws and regulations regarding bicycle use on both bicycles and motorized vehicles.
In 1990 the government decided to start a 4-year pilot bicycle project in order to reduce car traffic and Sandnes was chosen to be one of two pilot towns. The two main goals of the project were to make the town more friendly for cyclists as well as to make more people use the bicycle. The campaign has continued well past the 4 year mark and Today Sandnes has the best facilities for cyclists in Norway.
The public bike system in Sandnes starting in June 1996 as the first city in Norway were you are able to subscribe to a plan of use.
Highlights: Designated street lanes. Biking is core to its transportation infrastructure. Rent or subscribe to public bicycles. Great bicycle parking. Large bicycle culture.
Yes, Norway is 6th and 7th on the list! They have invented the worlds first Bicycle Lift (Trampe) which actually has become one of Trondheims most popular tourist attractions and has become a success.
The bicycle lift carries cyclists uphill. Inspired by the ski lift technology, the cyclists could be pushed uphill without having to get off of the bicycle. Taking into account the topography of Trondheim, it is no surprise that the idea of a bicycle lift was conceived here.
Trondheim is an environmental friendly city that promotes cycling. It has a public bike project were you can rent bikes. 18% of the population of Trondheim is using their bike as a daily means if transport to work or school. Norway aims to raise bicycle traffic to at least 8% of all travel by 2015.
Highlights: Bicycle lift. Designated street lanes. Biking is core to its transportation infrastructure. Rent or subscribe to public bicycles.
San Francisco is the second most densely populated major city in the U.S, so a core bicycle system is key here and it also is consistently ranked by Bicycling Magazine as a top city for cycling. Bicycling is a popular mode of transportation in San Francisco, with about 40,000 residents commuting to work regularly by bicycle. There are 63 miles of bicycle lanes and paths throughout the city.
The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition endorsed eight candidates for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, and all were elected. The board, which is the transportation authority for the city and county, puts highest priority on pedestrian and cycling needs, followed by mass transit.
With the number of commuters growing, all public transportation has been equipped to carry bicycles, and driving lanes are being converted into bike lanes.
Highlights: Designated street lanes and traffic signals. Biking is core to its transportation infrastructure. Large bicycle culture with some political influence.
Berlin is the country's largest city, and the second most populous city in the European Union. In Berlin where less than half of residents own a car, it has become downright common to ride a bike every day.
Riders have access to 390 miles of bike paths with over 90 miles of mandatory bicycle paths, 120 miles of off-road bicycle routes, 40 miles of bike lanes on the roads, 50 miles of shared bus lanes which are also open to bicyclists, 60 miles of combined pedestrian/bike paths and 30 miles of marked bike lanes on the sidewalks. Around 500,000 daily riders account for 13% of total traffic.
Online bicycle router BBBike determines the best bike route between two points in Berlin. Just enter your origin and destination point.
Highlights: Designated street lanes, independent bike paths, traffic signals and bike maps. Bike rentals. Events, education and encouragement. Online bike router. Large bike culture.
On March 22, 2007, Barcelona's City Council started the Bicing service, a bicycle service for public transport. Once the user has their card, they can take a bicycle from any of the 100 stations spread around the city and use it anywhere the urban area of the city, and then leave it at another station.
Barcelona City Council is working day and night to expand, rationalize and improve the network of routes and cycle paths in the city. The city has created a 'green ring' that surrounds the metropolitan area of Barcelona with a bike path. There are currently 3,250 parking spaces for bikes at street level. Barcelona City Council is constructing a new underground car park for bicycles; this forms part of a pilot program to prevent theft and provide security for bicycle users.
In September, deliberately aimed to coincide with Car Free Day, the Sustainable and Safe Mobility Week takes place, in which a whole day is dedicated to the bicycle. Bike Week was held for the first time between May 21 and 26 in 2002. It's another step forward along the same path that was started by the Festival of the Bicycle, which is integrated into Bike Week. Apart from the festive and leisure activities or the presentation of various projects that are centered around the bicycle, it is a call to use pedal power to get around.
Highlights: Designated street lanes, independent bike paths, traffic signals and bike maps. Activities and events that raise awareness and education for bike safety. Ample bike parking.
The City of Basel is surrounded by a rich agricultural region where fruit trees and grapevines are cultivated and cattle are raised making for beautiful countryside bike tours with clearly-marked networks of bicycle routes and paths that criss-cross both the city as well as the surrounding region.
Basel is a very bicycle-friendly city, with many well-marked bicycle lanes throughout the city, and even traffic signals and left-hand turn lanes for bikes. Special route maps are also available for cyclists.
Bikes can be rented locally from the Rent-a-Bike underground bike park. Besides local commuter bike lanes, there are specific bike trails that connect to other parts of Switzerland. These bike trails are indicated by signs at some intersections.
Highlights: Designated street lanes, independent bike paths, traffic signals and bike maps. Bike rentals. Events, education and encouragement.
What are the Five Es?
A bicycle friendly city is judged in five categories often referred to as the Five Es. Created by The Bicycle Friendly Communities Campaign as an award program to recognize cities that actively support bicycling.
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