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June 19, 2024

The most bike-friendly cities in the world  

By Arushi Sakhuja 
Travelling is an adventure. But if you really wish to make the most of your vacations, we’d suggest following the traditional quote that says “Don’t listen to what they say. Go see.” Bicycles can be a great way for travellers to enjoy a city and quite frankly, they help you reach corners that you may never know existed. It’s an experience like no other to truly immerse yourself in the city’s culture. Once considered a necessary playtime activity for kids, cycling today has caught on big time with the increasing tribe of experimental travellers eager to explore different places differently. Condé Nast Traveller presents its pick of the ten best cycle-friendly places in the world. 
You can rent a bike and pedal around most cities, but some go out of their way to make exploring on two wheels easy and convenient. From spacious bike lanes run parallel to roads to making traveling by bike more efficient than calling a cab and guided tours, many cities across the globe are cashing in on this trend and are going all out to promote the joys of travelling on a two-wheeler. So, the next time you pin down on a new destination to visit, take a moment to figure out the city bike network (or rent a bike for the weekend) and experience the city how the locals do.  
However, not all cities are bicycle friendly, and the last thing you want is a stressful vacation pedalling around an a city where vehicles rule. To help you narrow done your selection, here are the world’s best biking cities and where you’ll want to pedal once you get there. 
Beijing, China 
Beijing, China
Known as the cycling capital of the world, Beijing is one of the few cities where perfectly normal to see more cycles on the road than cars. With dedicated lanes and routes for cyclists, one of the best ways to experience China’s capital would be on a bicycle. Whether you’re simply riding on city roads or through the majestic mountains surrounding the Great Wall, there are plenty of bike rental facilities along with guided tours to help you explore this fun and environmentally friendly way of sightseeing. 
Antwerp, Belgium 
Antwerp, Belgium
Antwerp ranks No. 3 on the latest Global Bicycle Cities Index and offers a great mix of historic landmarks, modern architecture, world-class museums, and some of the best shopping and dining in Europe. With flat bike-friendly roads, the city is surrounded by greenery, making it a therapeutic way to spend time alone.  The city has several established cycling routes that are tailored to first timers and tourists, including a river route that takes you along and across the river Scheldt and through nearby villages. The 37 km journey starts and ends in the centre of Antwerp and delivers a wonderful introduction to the city and surrounding areas. 
Amsterdam, Netherlands  
Amsterdam is a bike lover’s paradise and for good reason! According to reports, there are more bicycles in Amsterdam than people, and locals even use bicycles to travel to and from work and school. Here, about 50% of all local trips are made by this mode of transport. This is how they get to work, buy groceries, go out, and visit friends. The capital of the Netherlands has an excellent infrastructure, parking lots, low-speed and wide bicycle lanes for safe overtaking, and special protection at intersections. For a scenic trail, follow the Amstel River south on the Ouderkerk aan de Amstel to see the landscape and windmills that inspired Rembrandt’s paintings and pass through the historic village of Ouderkerk aan de Amstel. 
Copenhagen, Denmark  
One of the most bike-friendly cities, in Denmark, the first bike lane was set up in 1892 in Copenhagen. Today, the capital has 385 kilometres of bike lanes. Today, nine out of 10 people own a bike and 25 per cent of people opt to bike when the journey is less than 5 ilometres. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that the capital city of Copenhagen is a paradise for bikers. The extensive Cycle Superhighway joins over 25 municipalities and the capital. For those who love design, there’s a 22-kilometer route that covers the buildings of innovative architect Bjarke Ingels. The Harbour Circle route offers 13 kilometres of waterside sites. Famous Tivoli Gardens is an easy ride from the center of the city.   
Montreal, Canada 
Make your way to the beautiful French-Canadian city of Montreal which is the most popular cycling city in North America. It has more than 800 km of bicycle paths, which are integrated into the Quebec Route Verte (one of the best in the world, according to National Geographic). In Montreal, the bicycle is considered part of the city’s transportation system, and there is also an annual Go Bike Montréal festival. The city’s most popular route for cycling is along the Bergé track, which connects the Verdun district to the western limits of Lachine, skirting the entire length of the St. Lawrence River and the North-South axis. The twisting road in Parc du Mont-Royal also offer some of the city’s best views. This bilingual city, set on an island in the St. Lawrence River, has embraced bicycles in a big way. Now, the city plans to expand, by adding about 200 kilometers of protected, dedicated bike lanes over the next five years. It also has the first urban bike-sharing infrastructure in North America—the Bixi programme—making it convenient for travellers to simply rent a cycle and embark on a green adventure.  
Bogotá, Colombia  
Bogotá, Colombia
It might be unusual to find a city like Bogotá in the list, but it  is the best cycling city in Colombia, with the most extensive network of bicycle paths in Latin America. Here, the La Ciclovía tradition was founded in 1974, when every Sunday, a large part of the road is dedicated to pedestrians and cycling enthusiasts. Since then, Bogotá has been a leader in bicycle promotion initiatives and an example to follow. This city first tested the mobile app for cyclists, Biko, which promotes cycling culture and gives special bonuses for riding. 
Seattle, USA 
While most of the top bicycling cities are in Europe, a tourist favourite in the United States is Seattle. Seattle is one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the United States. One-third of the city’s residents use this mode of transportation regularly and the city has many beautiful places to bike and explore Emerald City. Tourists should remember that it has hilly terrain, but this problem is easily avoided if you get creative with your itinerary. 
Barcelona, Spain  
Barcelona, Spain
Barcelona is a firm leader among the best cycling metropolises in the world. Traffic is heavy in this city, but even beginners should not be afraid to take a trip through it. There’s a very high cycling culture and over 300 km of bike lanes. Barcelona is a lively city on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. Beautiful hills surround it, so the best way to get acquainted with it is to take a leisurely bike ride.  By starting at Plaça Catalunya and biking for a while you’ll cover most of the highlights, including Sagrada Familia, Arc de Triomf, and Casa Batlló. Take a right onto Av. Portal de l’Angel, left onto Carrer dels Arcs, then head to El Born, home to Museu Picasso de Barcelona. This route ends at Las Ramblas, a pedestrian-friendly walkway lined with cafes, bars, and shops. 
Barcelona recently started Bicing—bicycle-sharing programmes—across the city where travellers can simply rent a cycle by using a card that unlocks the bike.  The best districts to ride in are Eixample, Gràcia, Sant Martí, Sants and Sant Andreu and for the more adventurous cyclist, there are plenty of routes along Montjuïc (a hill located near the centre of Barcelona) offer challenging rides. 
Tel Aviv, Israel 
Israel’s sophisticated, Bauhaus-styled city on the Mediterranean Sea has the makings of a bicycling paradise. It already features flat topography like Copenhagen but offers warmer, sunnier weather. And the city government has an ever-increasing commitment to cultivating a world-class bicycling culture and the city touts the time-savings that biking can give visitors. Don’t forget a ride from Rabin Square, the main plaza in Tel Aviv, to lush HaYarkon Park which is about seven minutes away. Popular Gordon Beach is also a short bike ride away.  
Tokyo, Japan  
In Tokyo, the bicycle is a favourite mode of transportation for residents of this world’s largest metropolis. Given its well-developed network of bike lanes, parking lots, and bike-sharing programs, it is a pleasure to pedal along the quiet and safe streets of the city, where small temples, quaint family stores, parks, and museums are hidden. Hop on a bike and cruise through the city’s surprisingly quiet (and safe!) streets or make your way to the waterfront, where you can cruise along the Sumida River, which flows into Tokyo Bay.  
Paris, France  
Cycling in Europe
Riding a bicycle in Paris has become fashionable. There are now more green travellers and riding children than ever before. The city of love is best explored on a two-wheeler. If you have a day of sights planned in Paris, the easiest way to get around (and avoid traffic) is to pedalway through. You can make your way toward the Eiffel Tower along the Seine River or pedal across the river to the right bank to shop on the Champs-Élysées. Half the fun is cruising alongside Parisians, who use the city bike system to bypass traffic and delayed trains.
 
Munich, Germany 
Munich is the bicycle capital of Germany with more than 80% of its inhabitants owning a bicycle. The city’s bicycle network covers around 1,200 km and a trip around Munich on two wheels is a treat. Take a ride along the Isar River, and see the majestic Maximilian Eum, the parliament building, and the Maximilian Bridge.  
 
Melbourne, Australia 
Melbourne’s scenic beauty, culture spots and casual eateries are that much more fun when you arrive by bike. The city has more than 135 kilometers of biking roads. One riding highlight is the Capital City Trail where cyclists share its 29 kilometers with pedestrians. It circles the inner city and goes through some eastern and northern suburbs.The Maribyrnong River Trail has an easy grade and takes riders past the Flemington Racecourse, a major horse racing venue, as well as Pipemakers Park, where visitors can explore the historic buildings and wetlands.  The Main Yarra Trail offers up to 33 kilometers  of great river views.  
Curitiba, Brazil 
Exploring cities on a bicycle
Curitiba is known to be one of the best-planned and organised cities. With winding roads and small colonies, a ride through this rustic city is the perfect way to soak in the culture of Brazil.  The city has dedicated bike lanes and expanding cycle routes, making it a fabulous place to ride. When in Curitiba, sights like Jardim Botânico and Torre Panorâmica—a peak offering a panoramic view of the city from an observation deck – are a must do!  
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Arushi Sakhuja

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