Best Cities to See from a Bicycle Seat - Page 2
|Bicyclist in Portland, Oregon (FogStock/Thinkstock)|
Indianapolis… really? This bustling heartland metropolis is going out of its way to cater to cyclists, both local and visiting. First, the city has almost 64 miles of on-street bike lanes, while an urban bikeway plan will add more than 200 miles of bike lanes across the city over the next 12 years. Starting in summer 2012, the Cultural Trail, a brand-new eight-mile urban bikeway, will link all six of the city’s cultural districts, allowing cyclists to effortlessly make their way from one neighborhood and attraction to the next. Not only is the ride smooth, but the sights along the way provide additional whimsy in the form of huge public art installments. On “Swarm Street,” cyclists are treated to LED-powered “fireflies” to mark the way, while the trail that goes through White River State Park, a 250-acre urban green space, provides stunning skyline views. At the Bike Hub, you can park and rent bikes and maybe even participate in an impromptu ride with locals at ActiveIndy Tours, which provides daily biking tours of the city. Lastly, the Monon Trail is a 10-mile-long rail-trail greenway that links with a number of other trails in the region.
It’s hard to beat Montreal, as it regularly tops the lists of the best North American bicycling cities. First, BIXI is a citywide bike-sharing system that runs 24/7 from April through November. Need a bike? Purchase an access card at one of 411 stations throughout the city, select a bike—there are more than 5,100 in the system—and return it to any station after exploring some of the 300 miles of bikeways and paths in the city. If you’d prefer a guided tour, Montreal on Wheels offers more than 150 bikes to choose from and almost as many tours.
Portland often tops the best-American-biking-city lists, and in 2012 the Rose City won top honors at Bicycling Magazine. Others agree, including Andy Clarke, president of the League of American Bicyclists, who says that Portland is “arguably the best big city in America for cycling.” Undoubtedly, this applies both for locals and visitors. For one, Portland has more than 318 miles of bikeways within city limits, ranging from bike lanes on local roads to bike boulevards and rail trails. The city also has the most bicycle commuters in the United States, a number that continues to grow each year; depending on the neighborhood, 4 to 7 percent more cyclists were reported biking to work, running errands, and just plain riding for recreational purposes in 2011 over the year before. Portland will also launch a bike-sharing program in spring 2013. With all of this bicycle love, you’ll find it effortless to explore downtown or wander off to check out the vibrant neighborhoods of the city. A favorite ride is the Waterfront Loop, an 11-mile ride that crisscrosses the Willamette River and provides a great introduction to the vibe and bustle of the city. Another option is the 19-mile North Portland Trail, where you’ll skirt lakes, parks, and both the Columbia and Willamette rivers. Portland Bicycle Tours offers both rentals and guided tours, while Waterfront Bicycles boasts of having the city’s largest rental fleet. Its Council Crest tour can be a bit hilly in parts, but the final destination is the point of highest elevation in the city, providing those who tough it out with a stunning 360-degree scenic panorama of several volcanoes in the Cascades.
San Diego, California
Even though full-time San Diego resident Jamie Ortiz originally hails from Portland, Oregon—and has traveled both the Pacific Coast and across Turkey by bicycle—she thinks San Diego doesn’t get the recognition it rightfully deserves for bicycle-friendly travel. The options are endless, but she first recommends a ride along the Pacific Coast along Highway 101 followed by an excursion on the Bayshore Bikeway around San Diego Bay, which can include a ferry ride back across the bay. Ortiz says one of the best things about biking in San Diego is date night with her husband. “We bike from Ocean Beach to downtown San Diego for dinner, drinks, and dancing, and then we ride along San Diego Bay’s bike path on our way home under the stars and clear skies.” Okay, her favorite part? “I always bike in my flip-flops,” she says. “Who can beat that?” To rent a bike of your own, try Cheap Rentals in Mission Beach or San Diego Bike & Kayak Tours.