September 2, 2010
Coast through the last weeks of summer with a spin through a bike-friendly city. These 10 destinations are so cycle-crazed that all rent bikes by the hour, by the day, or even for free with a returnable deposit (thanks, Copenhagen!) just in case your own set of wheels didn’t fit in your checked luggage. With thousands of miles of bike lanes, greenways, and public paths to explore, it’s time to get rollin’.
1. Amsterdam, Netherlands
Cycling through the network of canals is a quintessential do-as-the-Dutch experience in a city considered one of the biking capitals of the world. (With 40% of all traffic due to cyclists, it sometimes seems there’s as many bikes as people!) Bike rental shops abound, though as IgoUgo member Jim says, most are “no gears, bare bones”--though it’s hardly a problem in a city that’s fairly flat and easy to ride in. For tours (on wheels, of course) check out the visitor’s info on iamsterdam.com.
2. Portland, Oregon, USA
If you’re pedaling through this cycle-laced city, you’ll be in good company: Portland has the highest amount of bike commuters in the United States, and over half its police force patrols on wheels. For rentals, check out BikePortland.org’s comprehensive list--the editors report everything about the vibrant Portland bike scene.
3. Copenhagen, Denmark
Free bikes! Free bikes! Well--practically free. Around 2,000 public bikes are scattered throughout the downtown area, and can be used with a returnable deposit of 20 kroner. The city has an ambitious goal to get 50% of Copenhageners commuting by 2015--as JaimeParis notes in her Copenhagen journal, “it’s the preferred mode of transport.” Help add to the wildly-growing biking scene by climbing in the seat yourself.
4. Davis, California, USA
With over 100 miles of bike lanes and bike paths, Davis stands out--even in a state filled with other bike-loving cities. It was the first city in the United States to implement the now ubiquitous bike lane, and just this year became home to the United States Bicycling Hall of Fame (so yeah, they take biking seriously!). Snag a bike from Davis Bike Rentals while you’re in town--they’ll even drop it off for you.
5. Trondheim, Norway
It’s so hilly in Trondheim that the city came up with a solution for cyclists’ tired leg muscles: a bicycle lift called the Trampe. Inspired by a ski lift, a cyclist can hook a foot into a footplate and be transported uphill. For this novelty alone, the third largest city in Norway is worth a visit--and with 125 citybikes available through Trondheim’s tourist office, it’s easy to join in the fun.
6. Montreal, Canada
It’s incredibly simple to catch a ride in Montreal, all due to their innovative Bixi bike-share program. Just grab one of the 3,000 specially designed bikes from one of 300 stations, pay at the automated station, and you’re off! For $5 CAD you get 24-hour access to bikes, which are meant to be used for short, point-A-to-point-B trips--rides longer than 30 minutes cost extra.
7. Berlin, Germany
Less than half of residents of Berlin even own a car, so how do they get around? You guessed it: biking. Tons of bike rentals dot the city, and almost every major road includes a bike lane. Check the useful Berlin BBBike route planner for safe paths throughout the city.
8. Basel, Switzerland
When in Basel, head straight to the unique Rent-a-Bike underground bike park to get fitted for wheels (don’t forget to grab a free helmet, too!). Then explore on the well-marked bicycle lanes that crisscross the city, or check out the bike-specific trails that connect to other parts of Switzerland.
9. Paris, France
Besides that famous tower, Paris is home to Vélib’, the world’s largest public bike rental program: over 20,000 bicycles are available to rent, 24 hours a day! Just a few euro buys you a day or week pass for the bikes, though, like Montreal’s program, rides longer than 30 minutes cost extra. (And PS, don’t steal a Vélib' bike--it’s equipped to sound an alarm if you carry it too far away.)
10. San Francisco, California, USA
San Fran is one of the most densely populated major cities in the United States, so the bicycle has become a key tool for commuters. And for you? The hot spots that can be explored by bike tourists are endless, and--unlike many cities--electric bikes are available for day rental here (making that Golden Gate Bridge trek a snap!). Alexonthewharf calls the electric bikes “perfect” and a “can’t miss experience.” Check out the SF Bikemapper tool to plan your route, and opt for the flattest path--a great option in a city filled with lung-burning climbs and spectacular views.
Where to refuel and re-energize (or sleep!) after your bike adventure:
Amsterdam Hotels and Restaurants
Portland, OR Hotels and Restaurants
Copenhagen Hotels and Restaurants
Davis, CA Hotels and Restaurants
Trondheim Hotels and Restaurants
Montreal Hotels and Restaurants
Berlin Hotels and Restaurants
Basel Hotels and Restaurants
Paris Hotels and Restaurants
San Francisco, CA Hotels and Restaurants
Posted by LonelyHighway (Kelly L. Phillips)