I don’t have a bucket list, but I do have a bike-it list.Unknown
Hands up if you like biking! Keep your hands on the handlebars if you’re currently riding. Don’t read and bike friends! All joking aside, I LOVE riding my bike. I’ve never had the pleasure of taking my bike on an international trip to partake in a pleasure cruise around a foreign country, but I have rented a bike in almost every country I’ve visited. I won’t call myself an expert, but I’m definitely an enthusiast.
Put those helmets on, store your valuables, and make sure you have plenty of water, because you’re in for a fun ride, ladies and gentlemen. Below are so (definitely not all) of the most bike-friendly destinations you can find on a map. All are on the list for a variety of reasons, but all of them have shown, year after year, that they know what they are doing when it comes to implementing cycle-safe infrastructure and just a good time to be had on two wheels. Read on to see my picks!
There’s a reason the world measures the bike-friendliness of a city based on the Copenhagenize Index. Copenhagen sets the precedent for the rest of the world when it comes to bike-friendly cities. When the majority of its population bikes to work or school it’s easy to see why.
Not only do its inhabitants love cycling, but the city has made incredible improvements over the years to enhance their cyclists’ safety and experience. Cycling bridges, bike lanes, and several politicians with anti-car stances have allowed bikes to take over the city.
As the capital of the Netherlands, the city has a huge opportunity to show the surrounding cities and countries just how successful incorporating bike infrastructure and tourism can become. They’ve done more than just merely accomplish this lofty goal. The Dutch have implemented ambitious plans for 2022 to improve bike parking and existing infrastructure.
As the city continues to grow, plans for more bike lanes and new paths to accommodate tourists and residents alike are currently underway. They’ve even gone as far as redesigning major intersections, limiting traffic in certain areas, and designated more bike-safe places. While most people think of Amsterdam’s canals, you’ll get a truly local experience by exploring the city by bike instead.
Named France’s premier city for bicycling, Strasbourg gives France a good name in the mind’s of cyclists. Strasbourg has consistently made efforts to encourage new riders to take up cycling in the city, improved existing bike lanes, and expanded cycle highways to reach to the suburbs. Now it’s easier than ever for bikes to explore all that Strasbourg has to offer instead of just certain areas.
This massive, bustling city might not seem like the ideal place to ride a bike, but it is quickly becoming a cycling hot spot. Paris has consistently improved upon their existing infrastructure of shared bike and bus lanes to make the city more friendly towards cyclists. New bikes-only lanes and biking facilities have been constructed. Not only have these changes been made, but local politicians remain firmly committed to providing future enhancements as well.
While some thoroughfares require more adjustments, but the city is making great strides to be more friendly. After all, when 30% of the city’s population commutes by bike, it’s necessary to adapt quickly and effectively.
Richmond, VA, USA
Just try and stop me from putting my hometown on this list! I spent most of my childhood, preteens, and even my adulthood riding my bike almost everywhere. Most people don’t realize just how bike friendly this city is. When I was younger, it was more “bike at your own risk” in the city, but the suburbs were biking havens.
As I got older, more and more people began to bike around the city and along the river. Today, organizations have successfully gotten the city’s officials to build designated bike lanes, improved and created more bike-friendly infrastructure and bike shares, and offer tours all over the city to show off its history, art, and unique culture. Want more than just road cycling? Richmond also has extensive trails for mountain bikes and hosts a few competitions/races throughout the year for professional bikers and cyclists.
Helsinki is known around the world for its strides in sustainability and cycling is a major part of this initiative that benefits everyone living and visiting this Finnish city. The past few years have witnessed gradual changes in the biking culture within the city. Bike shares are becoming more widespread each year, making it easier for locals and tourists to ditch the cars and explore by bike.
Helsinki can boast of over 800 miles of bike paths and 12 miles of cycling highways. Now that is pretty incredible, especially with the fun fact that 87 more miles are currently under construction. The only thing the city is lacking is a powerful voice to keep pushing these improvements forward at a faster pace. For now, we can all enjoy the positive improvements the city has made and get excited for what’s to come.
Bogota is basically the coffee capital of the world, so why not bike off the jitters from drinking too much coffee so you can go drink more? While the city center still remains congested with cars, Bogota (and Colombia as a whole) is leading the way in South America for safer biking initiatives and implementing cycling infrastructure.
My favorite part is the community-based Ciclovia event that occurs every weekend. Each Sunday the city closes many of its streets to cars so bikers of all ages and cruise around unimpeded. Is this just a few blocks? Nope. It’s 60 miles of routes, making it a massive undertaking and putting Bogota on the map as far as bike-friendly cities are concerned. More is on the way as well in the form of bike shares, way-finding apps, and bike lines throughout the city.
Biking through Barcelona is one of my favorite memories of my trip. Since many of the sites to see and areas to explore are spaced out, we decided to rent bikes and join a biking tour for the day. Many streets are closed to cars, making it safe for bikers of all ages and in the more congested areas, there are bike lanes to keep everyone safe. It’s honestly the best way to explore the city as the trails go along the beaches, into the city center, and even in the outskirts as well.
The city is currently incorporating more bike share programs to give those without bikes greater access. In addition, Barcelona is adding over 190 miles of biking lanes throughout this incredible city.
Budapest was one of my favorite cities on the planet before we decided to take a bike tour and then that cemented it as one of my favorite places to bike as well. Hop on the hilly trails in Buda and hit the streets in Pest, there’s something for everyone here. There’s so much to see in Budapest that it’s almost impossible to do even with a week’s stay, so it’s best to be able to move quickly and a bike is your best option if you’re up for going the distance.
Tours are an extremely popular option in the city and they take you to all of the major spots around town. While some areas are congested with cars, I never once felt unsafe. There are dedicated bikes-only zones and lanes for bikes in other areas as well as trails where you can fully immerse yourself in nature. Want to grab a quick bite to eat between your cycling destinations? Most cafes offer bike parking and some will even service your bike is repairs are needed while you eat!
We were supposed to travel here this winter, but sadly the coronavirus halted our travel plans. One day I will be able to give you a first-hand account! While most people picture Tokyo and think “wow that’s a big city, I don’t think I’d feel safe riding my bike there with that many cars”, it is actually one of the best (and most interesting) places to ride your bike.
Millions, and I mean millions, of people commute by bike in Tokyo. With that many people on two wheels instead of four, it makes it one of the safest places to ride as well. While the infrastructure greatly prioritizes cars, officials are starting to see the trend towards riding bikes and are making plans to make the city even more bike-friendly in the years to come.
Have You Ridden Your Bike In Any of These Places?
Tell me about it in the comments below! Was your favorite travel biking experience not on my list? Share your stories with me and I will try to use them in future posts and give your city a shoutout! Thanks for reading, friends!