Whether it’s about the environment, getting fit, or just getting outside on a sunny day, more and more people the world over are buying into the benefits of cycling for a weekend excursion or even an enjoyable commute.
Here is our rundown of the world’s most unexpectedly bike-friendly cities.
A crowded city with a notorious pollution problem, Bogota is probably not the first place you’d think of for a breezy, afternoon bike ride. But for decades now, the city has been staging a two-wheeled revolution against the encroaching dominance of cars.
The birthplace of defending Tour de France champion Egan Bernal, every Sunday the Colombian capital plays host to a remarkable sight – more than 100km of roads are closed to cars morning through mid-afternoon, transforming much of the city into one big, thriving cycle path.
Though surrounded by mountains, the city itself is mostly flat, and estimates of participants tend to number in the millions. Known as the ‘Ciclovia’, the program started in the mid-1970s, and copycat events have since sprung up in cities around the world.
It’s not a list-topper quite yet, but our very own Dubai has its sights set on becoming one of the urban cycling capitals of the world. The government’s aim is to reach a whopping 850 kilometers total cycle paths by 2030, which would be mighty impressive for a city that could only claim 10 kilometers in 2006.
A sweep of new road safety laws helped pave the way earlier this year, and the city is already gaining a reputation on the international cycling scene. Particularly popular is the Al Qudra Cycle Track, an 86-kilometer marathon through the desert surrounded by soaring sand dunes and Arabian oryx, and the converted camel tracks at Nad Al Sheba.
And for the avoidance of doubt, Dubai does not solely consist of the desert. High, rocky enclave Hatta is internationally renowned for its mountain biking, while the lush city parks are crisscrossed with an expanding cycle path network.
You might hazard a guess that Amsterdam is the world’s most bicycle-friendly city – but in fact, Copenhagen pinched that title from the Dutch city in 2015 and has topped the list each year since, according to the annual Copenhagenize Index.
The numbers are certainly impressive. The 2019 index reported 62% of residents reaching work or school by bike in the past two years, plus more than €40 spent per capita on cycling infrastructure in the same period. Since 2017, the city has added or is in the process of adding 12 new bike-friendly bridges, alongside 167 kilometers of regional cycle highway.