“I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike, I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride it where I like,” says the lyrics of a famous song about what else? Bicycles.
Everyone knows that cycling offers countless health benefits – it makes our muscles stronger, it keeps our heart and lungs healthy, it promotes better blood circulation, and help us burn more calories, among many others.
While all these health advantages have been known for centuries, it seems like the message only clicked in recent decades. Recent surveys revealed that more and more people are riding a bike as a form of exercise and as a means to go to work.
Cycling experts predict that bicycling would continue to become more popular in the future especially now that people are more health and environment conscious. Riding a bike will not only benefit the rider but the environment as well.
We are all aware that bike riding is a pollution-free mode of transportation, but did you know that it also reduces your carbon footprint? Yes, it does!
Thankfully many cities around the globe acknowledge the many benefits of bike-riding, so they encourage their residents to do so. We have the list of these bike-friendly cities here as well as a list of the sketchy cities for bike riders. Read on!
20 Best: Copenhagen, Denmark
Copenhagen is always considered as one of the world’s healthiest cities, and considering the connection between bike-riding and good health, it is not surprising that Copenhagen is also regarded as the most biker-friendly city in the world. Biking is a way of life in the city that very young kids learn how to ride even before they are old enough to go to school and a majority of residents commute to work by bike. This interest wouldn’t have been possible without the bicycle-friendly measures implemented by the city. Copenhagen boasts of 242 miles of bike lanes and a “Cycle Super Highway” that connects the city to the town of Albertslund.
19 Questionable: Sydney, Australia
A world authority on transport who was invited by the State Government to promote bicycle use in New South Wales shared that Sydney’s cycling infrastructure is a decade behind that of London. And for you to better understand where he’s coming from, know that London is not even in the forefront of cycling in the world. Apart from serious lack of bike lanes, the expert also commented that the city needs a serious education campaign to create a more bike-friendly culture since he noticed that Sydney drivers are more hostile towards cyclists than motorists of any other country.
18 Best: Amsterdam, Netherlands
There are more than 800,000 bicycles in Amsterdam, almost the same number as the entire population of the city. This number alone is enough evidence on how friendly the city is for bike-riding folks. Known as Europe’s busiest cycle city, residents in Amsterdam use their bikes to drop children at school, get groceries, go to work, and basically to go around the city. Considering the people’s reliance on this mode of transportation, the streets of Amsterdam are always filled with bicycles. The city also encourages tourists to rent bikes and go on a guided cycle tour, stressing that riding a bike is an essential Amsterdam experience.
17 Questionable: Hong Kong
There are three factors that make Hong Kong challenging, if not worst for bikers – extreme density, topography, and climate. Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated places in the world so there’s not much space on roads. The city is also hilly, which makes riding a bike a very strenuous activity. Moreover, for over half a year, the city is too hot and humid, which does not necessarily encourage bike-riding. While the government promotes cycling for its health benefits, bike riding is not considered a form of transportation, which is why cyclists need to carry their bikes and use the pedestrian overpasses to cross highways and there are no protected cycle tracks or bicycle lanes.
16 Best: Portland, Oregon
While Europe is more known for bike-riding citizens, Portland, Oregon is trying to represent the United States in the biking world. Leading the charge is the Portland Bureau of Transportation who are continuously making improvements to help residents and tourists safely navigate the city using bicycles. Apart from numerous biking trails that help bike-riders travel from the busy inner city to more the more easygoing communities, there are also dedicated bike lanes and road rules that are favorable to cyclists in Downtown Portland. The city also implements a Biketown bike-sharing scheme, wherein anyone can rent high-quality bikes with real-time GPS and other accessories, for as low as $2.50.
15 Questionable: Delhi, India
The more hours you bike, the better for your health, right? Apparently, not in Delhi. A study by researchers at the University of Cambridge revealed that riding a bike in Delhi is only beneficial if the person only cycles for five hours or less a week because of air pollution. Delhi is one of the most polluted cities in the world, twice as bad as Beijing’s air pollution. So, people will just expose themselves to more harm when they ride a bike. In addition, the traffic condition in the city is also terrible and the cycling lanes have already fallen into disrepair.
14 Best: Boulder, Colorado
Residents of Boulder have a love affair with bicycling, probably because they have always loved the outdoors. The city has 300 miles of bikeways which is why it is normal to see tons of bike riders getting a quick workout during their lunch breaks, riding to and from work, or cycling leisurely around town during the weekend. If you come to visit and interested in discovering the city like a local, Boulder has a bike-sharing program. Just look for B-cycle kiosks located around town and you can check out a bike and ride it for half-an-hour. You can go wherever you like, you just have to return it to any of the kiosks when your time is up.
13 Questionable: Moscow, Russia
Moscow is known for having the worst traffic congestion in the world and while this should prompt commuters to ride their bikes, only 0.04% do so because of several factors. First and foremost, bike-riders need to navigate their way through car-choked highways. This means that they need to risk their safety, deal with road rage, and poor driving habits of residents. Secondly, bikers cannot cross highways directly. They must carry their bicycles up and down 30 to 40 steps to cross bridges and underpasses. Some cyclists use the sidewalks to avoid numerous cars, but they are a nuisance to pedestrians.
12 Best: Montreal, Canada
Biking is so popular in Montreal that there was one instance wherein motorists actually complained that the city was removing snow from the bicycle lane faster than the roads. Why wouldn’t residents enjoy biking when Montreal has an impressive 373 miles of bike paths. Bicycle lanes in the city are not just a narrow strip of pavement on the side of the road but a separate path as wide as a whole car lane, separated from the rest of the street with a cement curb. The city also has countless traffic signs to ensure the safety of bike-riders. The city also hosts a week-long “Go Bike Montreal Festival” every year, welcoming bikers of all ages and skill levels.
11 Questionable: Cairo, Egypt
Bike-riders in bicycle-friendly cities are seen as individuals who care about their health and environment, but in Cairo, cycling is regarded as a mode of transportation for lowly delivery men. Women who cycles are also highly at risk of sexual harassment. Apart from the negative stigma, Cairo’s terrible traffic and pothole-filled roads also present serious dangers to bike riders. If residents are able to push through all these barriers, the air pollution would then haunt them. Cairo’s air is ranked as one of the worst for pollution by particulates or the tiny fragments of soot or dust that are most damaging to the human lungs.
10 Best: Tokyo, Japan
Cycling is a great way to go around the city of Tokyo. About 14% of all commuters in the city ride their bikes and while this may seem like a small number compared with other bike-friendly cities, you should remember that Tokyo is huge and highly dense, comparable to London and New York City. Note that only 2% and 1% percent of commuters travel by bike in London and NYC, respectively. Individuals who choose to pedal toward their destination can enjoy ample parking spaces, numerous bike paths, and cycling tours. More importantly, considering Japan’s valued culture of respect, anyone can leave their bikes unlocked on the streets of Tokyo without fear that it would be stolen.
9 Questionable: Beijing, China
Beijing was once dominated by bicycles but today over five million cars are causing massive traffic jams and serious air pollution. If you are wondering how risky it is to ride a bike in Beijing, you would be concerned to know that over 10,000 of China’s 67, 759 traffic related accidents in 2009 involved cyclists. Cycling has also been branded as the mode of transportation for “losers”. While the government tries to promote cycling as the primary mode of transportation, it may not happen anytime soon considering the culture. Moreover, while there are bike lanes, they are used as parking for cars, a walkway for pedestrians, and parking spots for rickshaws.
8 Best: Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
Biking became a lifestyle in the city of Rio when its leaders decided in 1992 to focus on this means of transportation because of its health benefits and economic advantages, particularly for small service businesses. From then on, the government started building bike lanes around the beaches and later in the city. Today, Rio is known as the second city with the largest bicycle route in Latin America, with almost 280 miles of cycle lanes. The city also has a shared bicycle rental program with 60 stations and 600 bicycles distributed in various areas. If you ever visit Rio, all you need is your passport and you can rent a bike and explore the city.
7 Questionable: Nairobi, Kenya
Nairobi is one of the worst cities for bike-riders because, while it is a healthy and beneficial activity in most cities, it is dangerous in Nairobi. While many cities across the globe are recognizing the importance of cycling as a mode of transport, Nairobi is lagging behind. There are no roads designated for cyclists, so they have no choice but to use the main roads alongside cars and other vehicles. Attempts to have bike lanes were made by marking the pavements, but it has caused confusion for both cyclists and motorists.
6 Best: Strasbourg, France
Strasbourg is the official seat of the European Parliament and famous for its sandstone Gothic Cathedral, medieval churches, and other brilliant works of architecture. Given all the wonderful things you can see, bike-riding in Strasbourg is such a delight. Bike-riders enjoy 310 miles of biking lanes and since a large part of the old city is a car-free zone, bike riders can navigate and sightsee without risk. Strasbourg started its bicycle infrastructure in 1978. Today, 8% of commuters in the area ride their bikes to get around but the city’s cycling plan is working to double the number (16%) by 2025.
5 Questionable: Mumbai, India
In Mumbai, cyclists receive no respect as they are regarded as lowly delivery men and newspaper vendors. The roads are also disordered, chaotic, and packed with motorists who do not care about traffic signs, signals, and regulations. Residents share that nobody commutes by bike in Mumbai because the bus drivers, the truck drivers, and everybody on the road wouldn’t care about cyclists. Apart from hostile road conditions, the environment is another serious problem. Early this year, the World Health Organization (WHO) ranked Mumbai as the 4th most polluted megacity in the world. Imagine cycling in this condition, your lungs and heart would definitely pay for it!
4 Best: Barcelona, Spain
Barcelona’s journey to being one of the most bike-friendly cities in the world started in the 1990s when the first bike paths were laid out in the city. From then on, the city’s cycle path continued growing but what made bike-riding popular in the city was the introduction of the public bike-hire scheme called “Bicing” in 2007. From a mere 600 bicycles when the program started, the number is now 6.000. Ultimately, who wouldn’t enjoy bicycling in Barcelona with its pleasant climate, manageable distances, and environment-conscious residents, right? So, the next time you visit Barcelona, skip the cab and sign up for a bike tour.
3 Questionable: Sao Paulo, Brazil
Sao Paulo is notorious for its traffic. The situation is so bad that wealthy people travel by helicopters just to avoid it. Biking would have been a perfect solution to this problem but cycling in the city is like testing one's bravery for sure. If you think this is an exaggeration, just look at the 2012 numbers – 18 cyclists were hurt in New York, 14 in London, and 52 in Sao Paulo. The biggest problem is that people just drive too fast and does not care about the safety of other vehicles, let alone bike riders.
2 Best: Budapest, Hungary
Budapest has a lot to offer to biking-lovers – tons of cultural sites to explore, adventurous hilly trails for mountain biking, and a picturesque route along the second-largest river in Europe, the Danube. The city has over 124 miles of bike lanes which helps riders navigate the many astounding parks and the center city. Budapest also has a bike-share system wherein visitors can use a Bubi bike for a week at only $7.27. Bubi bikes have three gears, adjustable seats, automatic front and rear lights, and a frame-mounted storage space for holding maps and other small items you may have.
1 Questionable: Orlando, Florida
Florida is considered the most dangerous state for cyclists as it recorded an annual average of about 5.7 cyclist accidents per million residents. Out of all the cities in this state, Orlando is regarded as the worst when it comes to riding a bike. Apart from not having enough bike lanes, the drivers in the city also have a hostile attitude toward cyclists. In addition, many motorists have no understanding and appreciation of bicycle safety laws or regulations. Drivers also have no qualms shouting and honking at bike riders. Ultimately, cyclists are considered invisible and insignificant on the road.