Whether you want to reduce the amount you spend on gas or do your part to save the planet, city biking is the solution. You don’t have to sit in traffic jams at rush hour and cycling is a great way to burn all those extra calories you indulged in the night before. Cruiser bicycles and helmets are the only things you really need to shop for to get started.
Bikers Form a Tight Community
The one thing you will quickly notice when you start city biking is that you instantly become part of the cool biking community. It will be very surprising if you don’t get a head nod or wave from every cyclist you pass.
You can be brand new to a city, and instantly feel like you have a ton of friends. Many cities have actual cycling clubs or scheduled meet ups you can join.
City Biking Safety Tips
It is common to feel a little nervous about city biking, when you are first getting started. Keep these tips in mind to stay safe.
- Protect your head with a helmet.
- Try to stay visible at all times. This means using bicycle lights at night and being aware of blind spots of cars next to you.
- Always use hand signals and look before you follow through with your actions. Make eye contact with drivers, so you know they see you. But don’t assume they will stop.
- Be on the lookout for obstacles at all times.
- Go with the flow of traffic.
- Be aware of traffic around you, and don’t weave around cars.
- Don’t be distracted by listening to music or talking on the phone.
- Obey traffic lights and laws.
- Make sure your bike is properly adjusted for optimal comfort and performance.
- Check your brakes and tires before you start your ride.
Most Bike-friendly Cites in America
Are you looking to move somewhere, but haven’t settled on a location? Below are America’s most bike-friendly cities.
- Minneapolis, MN – More than 120 miles of bike paths and indoor bike parking are in Minneapolis.
- Portland, OR – From free bike lights to designated bike space at traffic lights, Portland has several innovative programs for city biking.
- Boulder, CO – In addition to 120 miles of trails, 95 percent of the arterial streets in Boulder are bike-friendly.
- Seattle, WA – Seattle actually has $240 million dedicated to a 10-year bike plan to add more than 450 miles of bike paths on top of what is already there.
- Eugene, OR – Lit bike paths and ample bike parking are just a couple reasons Eugene makes the list.
A few additional bike-friendly cities include San Francisco, Madison, Chicago, Denver, Austin, Phoenix, Albuquerque, and New York City. From experience I can tell you the New York City bike tours are fantastic.
World’s Most Bike-friendly Cities
If you currently live somewhere other than the United States, or are considering an overseas move, below are the top 10 most bike-friendly cities in the world.
- Amsterdam, Netherlands
- Nantes, France
- Copenhagen, Denmark
- Seville, Spain
- Antwerp, Belgium
- Berlin, Germany
- Paris, France
- Eindhoven, Netherlands
- Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
- Malmo, Sweden
- Montreal, Canada
- Budapest, Hungary
- Dublin, Ireland
- Tokyo, Japan
- Munich, Germany
- Montreal, Canada
- Nagoya, Japan
- Barcelona, Spain
- Hamburg, Germany
Recommended City Bicycles
City bicycles are generally less expensive than other styles. Unlike technical bikes, these ones don’t typically have as many costly features. Of course this is good news for consumers in urban areas where theft can be a problem. Since a wide range of bikes can be used in these areas, many manufactures now offer hybrids.
Hybrids have the relaxed design of mountain bikes, but their tires are smoother to ride on concrete. They are also lighter than cruisers, which make them a little faster.
What are Cruisers?
Technically, cruiser bicycles are a specific style of bike that piqued in popularity from 1930 to 1950. Today, the term is loosely used to describe any bike with a relaxed design that isn’t associated with a particular branch of cycling, such as road cycling or mountain biking.
Many cyclists agree that the upright position cruisers promote makes them a more comfortable option. They are also generally heavier and less expensive than other options. These bikes may not win races or tackle unforgiving terrain, but they are perfect for a casual ride around the city.
What About Fixies?
Fixies have once again become quite popular. The simplistic design of these single speed bicycles makes them perfect for urban riding. This style is often associated with hipsters because they tend to favor them. Fixies can be challenging to pedal in hilly cities though.
Biking for a Better City
Whether you are using city biking to help save the planet or not, your actions still have a positive effect on the environment. Cycling has been viewed as an efficient means of transportation in European cities for many years.
City planners in North America are starting to catch on to this beneficial trend and are including bike lanes and paths in their master plans.
As a result, cycling in cities is now safer than ever. City biking reduces traffic congestion, which in return improves air quality. Of course, cycling makes you healthier overall. Improved health combined with a cleaner city results in a better quality of life.
Books about City Biking
For more information, there are some informative books about city biking. Take a look: