What makes a city cyclist-friendly? Here at Inhabitat we think it takes a special mix of government advocacy, solid infrastructure, cyclist and driver education, and most importantly, a strong biking culture among residents. In recent years, we've seen a resurgence of bike-friendly policies around the world. While big cities like Beijing, San Francisco and New York City often capture headlines for their massive bike sharing programs, they're certainly not the only ones where travel by two-wheels is celebrated. To that end, we've rounded up just six of the most bike-friendly cities around the world. Rather than highlighting Copenhagen, Amsterdam and the like, we've focused on lesser-known cities that you might not have expected. If you're a dedicated bike commuter, or just long to live in a community that makes it easy to ditch your car, this list is for you.
Charleston, South Carolina
Besides being relatively flat and offering a temperate coastal climate, this old port city boasts a vibrant cycling scene. Downtown Charleston’s Real Estate Studio offers property tours on two wheels (they provide the bikes), and agent Kristin Walker is the founder of event website bikecharleston.org. In addition to cycling shops, festivals, and clubs, the city offers 3,680 bike trails to help you get around without your car.
Only 13 percent of residents in Bogotá own their own vehicles, so it’s no surprise that bike commuting is the norm in this small city. Although it doesn’t have a massive bike-sharing program like some European cities, Bogotá does what it can to make cycling safe and accessible. According to the Huffington Post, the city closes down 70 miles of roadway to vehicular traffic on a weekly basis so bikers can cycle the streets safely.
Just northwest of the bustling metropolis that is Denver lies the hipster-laden Republic of Boulder. Proud of its heritage as a bike-friendly city, Boulder dedicates 15 percent of its transportation budget to improving and promoting bicycle travel. As a result, Boulder is one of the few cities to achieve Platinum Bike-Friendly status from The League of American Bicyclists. Bike lanes are plentiful, and there’s even a pilot program that encourages kids to bike to school. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a bike-powered blender (pictured above).
This city’s official motto is “Most bicycle-friendly town in the world”, so it’s no surprise to find that Davis has more bikes than cars. According to Wired, which profiled the city in 2009, Davis “operates two bicycle advisory committees and employs two full-time bike coordinators, and has bike lanes on 95 percent of its major streets. It’s an innovative approach and long-term commitment to creating and maintaining bicycle-friendly infrastructure and policy.”
According to OttawaStart, Canada’s capital city has over 170 kilometres of bike paths in the city, and many major routes feature special bike lanes to make commuting easy. There are also plenty of bike-friendly events, from races to “Bike to Work Month”, and lots of resources for bike safety education.
Like many European cities, Trondheim encourages bike commuting through a city-wide bike sharing program. But it doesn’t stop there: in the late 1990s, Trondheim debuted the world’s first and only bicycle lift system, which pushes cyclists up big hills so they don’t have to kill themselves on the way to the office. That’s some serious bicycle love (and perhaps something they should consider in San Francisco?).