See the World on Two Wheels: The Best Bike-Friendly Cities4 min read
Exercise and physical activity are an essential part of leading a healthy and fit life. Regular physical activity helps you maintain a healthy weight as well as lower your risk of serious diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer and more.
However, when you’re traveling, your exercise regimen can fall by the wayside – you’d rather make the most of your time in a destination visiting tourist attractions, experiencing the culture and dining on the local cuisine than trying to fit in a daily workout.
Luckily, there’s a way you can do both: bicycle tours.
Cycling is a great, low-impact exercise that anyone can participate in regardless of age. The low-impact nature of cycling means that it causes less strain and injuries than other forms of exercise. Plus, it’s relatively easy – you just hop on the bike and start riding.
Just because it’s easy to ride a bike and it’s a low-impact form of physical activity doesn’t mean you won’t also get an excellent workout. As you pedal, you use all of your major muscle groups, especially if you turn up the resistance or pedal up a hill. Cycling also increases your stamina, overall strength and aerobic fitness level. Additionally, you can make your bike ride as intense as you want by increasing your resistance and/or speed.
When it comes to traveling, participating in a bicycle tour means that you’re killing two birds with one stone – you’re exercising and getting to see your destination from a different point of view. Plus, it’s fun! There’s a level of adventure and buzz from riding all around the city you’re visiting.
Here are the best cities to see by bike:
Copenhagen has been rated as one of the most bike-friendly cities in the world. More than half of Copenhagen’s residents cycle to school and work. The city is covered in more than 200 miles of cycle paths and lanes, which are raised from the roads and known for their safety. Greater Copenhagen even has a “Cycle Super Highway” which connects the city to the town of Albertslund with helpful amenities along the way, like air pumps and traffic lights at intersections timed to average cycling speed to minimize stopping. There are plenty of bike rental shops throughout the city, but you can also rent a Bycyklen, a city bike, that’s equipped with a tablet with built-in GPS to guide you to the best sightseeing in the city.
Cycling is a way of life in this city in the Netherlands. With over 800,000 bicycles, there are more bikes than people in Amsterdam. The city’s network of bike paths, cycle routes and flat landscape fuels this culture. Pedaling is one of the best ways to explore the city’s streets, canals and attractions. There are guided cycle tours you can choose from, in which you can travel in small groups to weave in and out of some of Amsterdam’s most interesting sights with a guide telling you stories and facts about the city. If you’re more independent you can rent a bike and pick up an illustrated booklet, intended to help newcomers learn how to get around the city efficiently and easily.
Over the past 10 years, this Spanish city has made efforts to make itself more friendly to cycling. In that time, the use of bikes in this city shot up from 1 percent to 7 percent. There are now up to 70,000 bikes used daily in Seville, which seems small compared to other European cities, but that figure was just 6,000 a few years ago. The city is ringed by green-painted cycle ways and offers Sevici, a bike rental plan, making the city easier to cycle around for both locals and tourists. Guided tours are also available for those who prefer a more structured tour of the city.
Rio de Janiero, Brazil
If your favorite vacations are to tropical places, Rio de Janiero is the perfect bike-friendly city to visit. With a thriving cyclist population, their bike-sharing program has more than 60 stations and 600 bikes across the city. For a small fee, visitors have unlimited access to the bikes and can take advantage of the numerous bikes lanes and trails along the beautiful beaches. If you’re up for a challenge, try the Corcovado route, which leads cyclists up a demanding trail to the well-known Christ the Redeemer statue. Complete the 6 mile journey to the top and enjoy some of the most scenic views of the city.
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
This Canadian city boasts nearly 400 miles of bike paths, nearly twice as many as Copenhagen. Rather than just commuting to work and school, the bicycling culture here is more focused on leisurely rides. Every May, Montreal hosts its Go Bike Montreal Festival, which is a week of bike-friendly events and cycling tours of the city. With one of the biggest bike share systems in the world, Montreal is perfect for visitors to explore through cycling. Whether you’re taking a leisurely ride to a nearby park or a lengthy tour of the city, your experience is sure to be spectacular.
What is your favorite city for cycling?
Photo from City Clock Magazine.