April 7, 2016 / Luxury Lifestyle

10 of the World's Most Bikeable Cities

Thanks to bike-sharing programs, leisure rentals, and expanding networks of bike paths, cycling is enjoying a renaissance

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While some destinations have always had a robust bicycle culture—Amsterdam and San Francisco come to mind—more cities around the globe have followed suit in recent years, introducing or expanding bike-sharing programs, upgrading bike routes, and adding measures that help ensure cyclist and pedestrian safety. As a result, residents and travelers around the world are embracing cycling in ever greater numbers.  

The benefits are universal: Whether for fitness or recreation, transportation or sightseeing, or even commuting to work, cycling is adding a new dynamism to city living. Destinations also benefit: In a Wired magazine article, the Copenhagenize Design Company, which produces an annual index of the world’s most bike-friendly cities, states “studies from Denmark tell us that for every kilometer cycled, society enjoys a net profit of 23 cents.”

Explore 10 bike friendly locales throughout the globe:

1. San Francisco, California

This architectural gem on Telegraph Hill is San Francisco at its finest, offering luxury, culture, and views of the brilliantly bikeable Bay Bridge.Scenic San Francisco is a national leader in environmental protection, and its efforts to make streets safer for bikers has helped reduce its citizens' carbon footprints as they pedal.

Whether making streets safer for cyclists or passing legislation on such measures as eliminating plastic grocery bags, Bay Area communities are constantly seeking to improve quality of life for residents as well as lessen their environmental impact. In recent years, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has added more protected bike lanes. Last year, the agency also announced plans for improvement of more than 24 additional miles of bike lanes and infrastructure. 

2. New York, New York

The Citi Bike system has thousands of New Yorkers riding to work, and exploring the city's parks and waterfronts on two wheels.This Greenwich Village duplex offers privacy and intimacy and is located just moments from the city’s best biking up and down the Hudson River Greenway.

Introducing a bike-sharing system to a metropolis as dynamic as New York City is no easy feat, and Citi Bike, which launched in Manhattan in 2013 with 6,000 bikes and 300 stations, has had its fair share of growing pains. Still, the Citi Bike program has been a massive success. The program has continued expanding across Manhattan and begun moving into communities in Brooklyn and Queens, adding more than 100 new stations and more than 1,000 new bikes. Ridership increased 21% in the last year alone. 

3. Paris, France

This magnificent apartment in the 16th arrondissement features extensive views of Paris and is perfectly situated for cycling along the banks of the Seine.Paris was an early adopter of bike sharing, launching its first program nearly 15 years ago. Today, the "Vélib" (short for "Vélos en libra-service") has docking stations at major cultural attractions across the city.

When the City of Light launched its bike-share program more than 14 years ago, it was a trailblazer in the space. To date, Vélib—shorthand for “vélos en libre-service”—counts more than 20,000 bicycles across its vast network. Vélib has redefined Parisian living for residents as well as visitors; docking stations include such central destinations as the Champs-Elysees and the Louvre.

4. Chicago, Illinois

Chicago's new Streets for Cycling Plan, slated for completion in 2020, will include in a new, 645-mile network of bike lanes, and an expansion of the city's popular Divvy bike share program.This Southport Corridor residence—a new build by GVP Development—features an eat-in kitchen with butler’s pantry and a massive master bedroom with two walk-in closets and is located close to several Divvy bike docks.

While Chicago has long been home to an active community of cyclists—thousands turn out each year for the charitable Bike the Drive event, which takes place along a scenic, 30-mile stretch of Lake Shore Drive—the Windy City is in the midst of a massive push toward becoming even more bike friendly. The full realization of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Chicago Streets for Cycling Plan includes completion of a 645-mile network of on-street bikeways and the continued expansion of the Divvy bike share system, all of which is slated for completion by 2020.

5. Portland, OregonThis Pacific Northwest gem has exceptional indoor and outdoor living spaces with sweeping views of the the Cascade Range and the Willamette River, which boasts several scenic bike paths.The city of Portland, Oregon, has been a key player in reviving everyday bike culture in the United States for some time. This success is largely due to the Portland Bureau of Transportation, which has built a network of more than 300 miles of bike lanes and “bike boulevards.” With the highest percentage of bike commuters in the U.S., Portland recently announced that its popular bike-share program has a new partner (Nike), a new name (Biketown), and will be expanding its fleet and reach.

6. Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Pedestrians and cars yield for cyclists in Amsterdam, where the ratio of bikes to people is 1:1. Biking around this historic city is a wonderful way to take in its architecture and picturesque canals.This lovingly restored, 19th-century villa is considered a national monument, and its neighborhood, which contains the large and verdant Vondelpark, is idea for cyclists.

Cyclists rule the streets of Amsterdam, the picturesque Dutch capital known for its many canals, charming row houses, and laissez-faire temperament. While there is no official bike count, it’s estimated that the ratio of bikes to residents is 1:1. Something of a gold standard when it comes to bikeable cities, Amsterdam is well equipped with bike paths and lanes, although cyclists just as often ride in the streets. Bicycles here are commonly adorned with garlands of flowers or other creative flourishes.

7. Washington, D.C.
Known as the “Green House,” this 1910 property, boasting four finished levels, four fireplaces, and a gourmet kitchen, sits on Rainbow Row, a street perfect for biking along.Taking a cue from European capitals, Washington, D.C., was among the first U.S. destinations to create a bike-share program. Originally called SmartBike DC, the initiative launched in 2008 with only 10 pick-up/drop-off stations and 120 bikes. Today, Capital Bikeshare includes approximately 3,000 bikes and a network of 350 stations located not only in Washington, D.C., but in Arlington and Alexandria, Virginia, and Montgomery County, Maryland, providing residents an efficient and affordable way to commute to work and visitors a hands-on approach for seeing the sights.

8. Stockholm, Sweden

Sweden's capital is composed of numerous islands, but it's relatively flat, making it easy to tour by bike. One island in particular, Djurgarden, is home to botanical gardens and an amusement park, perfect for an afternoon ride and picnic. This waterfront villa in Dalarna, Sweden, includes gardens, guest cottages, and a jetty, and is surrounded by country lanes that welcome bicycles.

Internationally known for its quality of life and commitment to green living, the Swedish capital is a cyclist’s paradise. Composed of many islands connected through an extensive network of bridges and ferries, Stockholm also has relatively flat terrain. Cycling is the best way to explore its Djurgarden, an island that is essentially one giant park with minimal car traffic and an abundance of recreational activities including several museums, an amusement park, and botanical gardens

9. Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Jackson, founded in 1894, is popular for year round recreation including hiking and biking through the mountains.Nestled on 10 acres, this classic Rocky Mountain retreat serves up stunning views of the Teton Range and makes a great home base for outdoor activities from cycling to hiking.

Snow sports, hiking, hunting, cycling—Jackson Hole is a popular destination for outdoor recreation year round. While only the heartiest cycle during winter in cold-weather cities like Chicago and New York, bike tours are just as popular here in the winter as in the summer. Local outfitters conduct what are called “fat bike tours” in the winter months—tours on hard-packed snow routes on mountain bikes outfitted with 4- to 5-inch tires. Fat bike tours are just one more way to enjoy Jackson Hole’s legendary winter wonderland.

10. Bordeaux, France
With history dating back to the 13th century, this centrally located chateau offers easy access to the region’s nearby wine country, best explored by bike.“What Bordeaux has achieved in the past few years is remarkable,” notes the Copenhagenize Index, citing the city’s ongoing investment in infrastructure, growth of the VCub bike-share program featuring French-made Peugeot bikes, and an overall commitment to boosting “bicycle urbanism.” Bordeaux and bicycling go hand in hand, whether one wishes to cycle through the streets of this neoclassical city (designated an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007), along paths adjacent to the Garonne River, or through the legendary wine-growing region.

Explore more great cities around the globe 

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