The trend towards green living seems to be here to stay with more and more people making life choices that benefit the earth and themselves. Take biking for example – formerly the mode of transport for your local “tree hugger,” biking is rapidly becoming the go-to choice of transportation for more and more Americans.
Need proof? Oregon’s own hippie hub, Portland, ousted Copenhagen as the # 2 Most Bike-Friendly City in the world! In Portland, all parts of the city are connected by a varied network of bike lanes and trails (offering faster routes or routes with fewer hills). Other American cities are also embracing the trend! In Davis, California more people bike to work than drive. And Chicago pledged to be the Most Bike-Friendly City in the U.S by 2015!
Why is biking suddenly so popular? In addition to being great exercise, biking is cheaper (no insurance, less financial investment) and does not produce one single ounce of pollution for our atmosphere.
Of course, Amsterdam remains the # 1 Bike City in the world (hence the nickname “Bicycle Capital of Europe”) with 40% of commuters on two wheels. Amsterdam has extensive biking trails and lanes and a network of safety set up to ensure that drivers treat cyclists with respect and caution. To prevent bike theft, many grassroots organizations have popped up and the government has invested in more public sheds (for temporary storage when you’re out running errands).
Copenhagen comes in at #3 with 32% of commuters traveling by bike. One neighborhood, Christiania, is entirely car free! And don’t worry if you don’t bring your own bike – there are hundreds of rent centers around the city which offer returnable deposits. That’s right – you rent the bike, use it all day, return it and get your money back!
Boulder, Colorado is the fourth most bicycle-friendly city in the world and the second American city on the list. What makes Boulder’s biking great is the variety of public programs available that educate people on bike safety and maintenance, self protection (using safety vests and equipping your bike with lights), road rules and more.
With over 100 miles of bike lanes, Davis, California is #5 on the list. Davis was one of the first U.S cities to incorporate bicycle lanes and cycling into its transportation infrastructure. It even voted to eliminate school buses a few years ago! Davis is currently in the process of building a massive underground bike-only tunnel that would run the length of one of the city’s main roads.
Back in Europe, Sandnes, in Norway, is #6 on the list followed by Trondheim. Both of these cities were chosen by the Norwegian government as test cities in 1990 to try to reduce car traffic and pollution. Clearly, the program was a success! Trondheim is, after all, where the bike lift was invented.
At #8 is San Francisco with about 40,000 people biking to work regularly.
At #9 is one of Europe’s largest capitals – Berlin. Despite having a population of around 3 million people, Berlin has managed to create 130 kilometer of bike lanes and about 400,000 people bike on a daily basis (accounting for 12% of street traffic)!
Last but not least is beautiful Barcelona in Spain. Each September, Barcelona celebrates Car Free Day and the Sustainable and Safe Mobility Week where residents are encouraged to forgo cars and choose bikes (or walking or public transport) as their mode of transport, and to educate themselves on eco-friendly, healthy transportation alternatives. The city designated a “green ring” around the metropolitan city center that functions as a bike path and Barcelona currently has over 3,000 bike parking spaces.
Other notable North American cities making strides for cyclists include Chicago, Ottawa, Tucson, Philadelphia, Austin, Lincoln, and Montreal. Local organizations and governments are changing the transportation landscape in these cities by providing more bicycle lanes, bike repair classes, free visibility vests and lights for biking at night, and more resources to get people biking!