The humble bicycle experienced a peak in popularity in the 1890’s; more than 25 years after its invention. But in recent years, participation in cycling has jumped by huge leaps and bounds; prompting cities to enact policies and create bike lanes to keep up with the demand. In fact, the League of American Bicyclists reports that cycling increased by 43 percent in eight years. What is behind this cycling craze that is taking place around the world?
For some, cycling is an opportunity to show off the latest cycling fashions. Others have taken up the sport as a low cost activity to maintain fitness and health. The most popular reasons are transportation cost savings and preservation of the environment. Bicycle riding, walking and car sharing have become transportation options for millions of eco-conscience citizens. Whatever the motivation, the craziest biking enthusiasts are just as excited about where they bike as by the bicycle itself.
Adelaide City, Australia
Adelaide is located in the lovely southern region of Australia. The city offers exceptional dining, shopping and sight seeing opportunities. It is known as the cycling city for its amazing views and flat, visitor friendly streets as well as the dedicated network of bike paths and lanes.
Adelaide offers residents and visitors bicycles, helmets and bike locks at absolutely no cost at three bike depots located around the city. And while cyclists agree that getting out of heavy traffic in the city is quite easy, Adelaide was recently in media spotlight regarding an intersection with a wicked "hook" that posed a danger to cyclists. The extreme road was featured in a video on the Internet which prompted cries for safer bike lanes in the area.
A recent research report on bicycling trends in large U.S. cities revealed that Portland is the leading cycle-friendly city among the top nine popular biking cities in the country. Bicycling in the city has increased by over 230 percent, or a six fold increase, since 1990. Among the main reasons for its ranking is the comprehensive infrastructure that promotes cycling in addition to polices and programs that ensure safety and enjoyment of bicycling within the city. Portland’s bike culture includes a serious biking network, continuous cycling events plus corrals and boulevards dedicated to cycling.
The extremely beautiful views along biking routes in Melbourne make it one of the most popular cycling cities in the world. The comparatively mild climate and flat landscape is an ideal environment for commuters and cycle enthusiasts who enjoy breathtaking beauty which includes Brighton Beach with the city in the background. About 8 percent of peak hour traffic in Melbourne is comprised of cyclists. The city now boasts of over 50 bike stations and 83 percent increase in cycling over an eight year period. Melbourne shows no signs of slowing and looks forward to even more growth in the bicycling industry going forward.
Minneapolis is considered a biker’s paradise for many reasons which include planned bike lanes, laws enacted to protect cyclists and free bike rides. The city encourages cycling by providing designated bike lockers, recreational bike trails and even dedicated snowplows. The city is in the process of converting railroad beds running from the suburbs to the city in a 15 mile route. The state’s Department of Transportation is involved in supporting cycling. The Department hosts an annual state bicycle tourism summit and actively participates in the Mississippi river trail route, which runs through ten states along the river. The abundance of state and national cycling news that is made available to citizens of Minneapolis also contributes to successful cycling in the city.
Brisbane is a popular cycling location primarily for bicycle touring. Completely organized bicycle tours encourage cycling and allow cyclists to enjoy the phenomenal views in the area. As Australia’s third largest city, it has recently named one of the best places to live in Australia due to its lovely climate, rich culture and the beauty of the Brisbane River seen along the tour routes. One word of caution: bikers are encouraged to engage in biking tours suitable to their health and level of fitness. According to some experienced bikers, the massive hills in Brisbane can be quite challenging for the novice cyclist.
The capitol of the United States is among the most popular cycling destinations in the country. The area is filled with dozens of trails; from a few miles to the extreme Chesapeake and Ohio Towpath trail that runs over 180 miles from DC to Maryland. Bike commuting is a popular way to beat rush hour traffic in warm weather. The city is equipped with mass transit with bike friendly options, multi use biking trails and on street bike routes.
What makes the biking trails in Gainesville unique is that they are interconnected. Cyclists can ride a continuous 22 miles by staying on four major bike trails, which wind their way through parks, quaint towns and lovely scenery with interesting changes in terrain. One of the largest trails, the Gainesville-Hawthorn, runs 16 miles. In 2011 Bike Florida, the annual 300 mile bicycle and camp tour, ended the tour at the Gainesville-Hawthorn biking trail.
Broken Hill, Australia
Broken Hill is among the list of craziest cycling cities because of the versatile landscape which offers endless cycling options. Broken Hill is located in an area surrounded by national parks, nearly desolated towns and totally unpopulated landscape. Summers in Broken Hill are extremely hot. These challenges, combined with the magnificent views, are what draw extreme cyclists to the area to take advantage of the low traffic. Broken Hill is the location where recently a group of cyclists duplicated the famous 1908 bike ride to Darwin by three cyclists of that day. The trip, despite mud, dust storms and rough terrain, raised $55,000 for The Royal Flying Doctor Service.