The third biggest city in the country, Basel flaunts special left-hand turn lanes for riders, as well as bike lanes throughout the city. When you’re ready to escape the bustle, riding to nearby villages is a cinch, thanks to a sprawling network of signposted cycling routes—Veloland Schweiz—that crisscrosses the country, directing cyclists to dedicated bike trails or scenic, lightly-trafficked roads.
One of the best ways to get around this Catalonian retreat is on two wheels. With its 100-kilometer “Green Ring” of bike-only routes surrounding the urban core and a successful, six-year-old bike-sharing program called “Bicing,” the city has made huge strides in reducing pollution, roadway noise and traffic congestion. While there, be sure to check out a famous fat tire bike tour (with English-speaking tour guides!).
More than 400,000 Berliners (that’s 11 percent) pedal to work each day on the city’s 620-kilometer bike system. And, with around €3 million ($4.024M) being poured into upgrades every year, Berlin is well on its way to becoming a cyclist’s paradise. Not sure how to get from place to place? Use the city’s mapping website to plot bike-specific routes.
It’s become famous (or infamous, if you prefer) for the Stupor Bowl—the nation’s biggest, coldest, drunkest alleycat race, but Minneapolis is the full package where bike-friendliness is concerned. It has the 1,200-bike Nice Ride share system, a bike-crazed citizenry and dozens of miles of on-street bike lanes and off-street commuter trails (including the Cedar Lake Regional Trail, widely considered “America’s first bicycle freeway”). The one drawback to Mill City—and, let’s face it, nobody can help this—is its freezing-cold winters. But 9-to-5ers still brave the weather, and the city is good enough to plow dedicated commuter routes for them.
The hills that rise above this city can’t intimidate its eager cyclists, and 32,000 of who (that’s 18 percent) bike to school and work each day. But for those who aren’t keen to sweat in their suit on a daily commute, the world’s first installed bicycle lift (inspired by ski lift technology) allows riders here to glide uphill without having to pedal. Sound too good to be true? Check it out here.
This small college town likes to brag that it has more bicycles than cars. It was the first city in the U.S. to implement bike lanes (as far back as 1967), they now exist on 95% of its major streets. A leader of the bike movement, the city has spent $14 million on bike projects in the last decade alone, a huge sum for a city of just 65,000. The bike craze has gone so far in Davis that a penny-farthing is the official city symbol and, in 2008, the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame moved here from New Jersey.
For a mountain town, Boulder is pretty easy on commuters. Its cyclists enjoy 300-plus days of annual sunshine and a 300-mile network of bike lanes that links residents to downtown and beyond to the mountain bike playground of the Front Range. The city’s healthy, go-green attitude extends to its kids, too, as evidenced by a successful “Safe Routes to School” program, which focuses on infrastructure improvements that promote walking and biking among students.
This two-wheeled paradise lures 32% of workers to ride their bikes by spending a whopping $10-20M annually on cycling infrastructure improvements. That means that bike paths here (famous for having their own signal systems) are extensive and very well traveled. But there’s still plenty of room for you to soak in the culture astride an oh-so-sweet FREE public bicycle (your deposit is refunded once you return it). While you’re in town, cruise the carefree, car-free streets of the self-proclaimed “freetown” of Christiania to witness a sort of bike-dependent utopian society.
This runner-up city is widely recognized as the urban bike capital of the U.S., which is the result of decades of advocacy and planning. Today, Portland is the only full-on city (and one of only three total communities) to earn Platinum Status from the League of American Bicyclists, thanks to its near-10% commuter rate, 259 miles of bike lanes and off-street paths and its many on-street bicycle safety features. And, if you’re into it, the bike culture is pretty rocking, too, as evidenced by business like the Rolling Wrench mobile repair and local joe shop The Fresh Pot (North Location), which has more bike parking spaces outside than seats inside.
Amsterdam didn’t become the bicycle capital of the world overnight. In fact, as far back as the 1960s, its government made a conscious decision to encourage bike use over the noise, pollution and congestion of a car-centric city. Today, more than half of all trips in the city center are by bike, where riders have 300 miles of bike lanes, paths, tunnels and bridges, as well as—gasp!—more road rights than motorists.