By Victoria Sharpe
No matter how careful we might be when cycling, or how confident we might feel, the fact is that sharing the roads with motorised traffic reduces the quality of a ride. It feels more dangerous, it can be awkward to navigate, and there are exhaust fumes everywhere. Fortunately, many European cities have excellent infrastructure that means cyclists rarely have to share the road with cars, making them ideal destinations for a cycling adventure. Let’s look at the top three choices.
- Seville, Spain
Ten years ago, Seville wouldn’t even have been on this list, but thanks to some fast-tracked planning and significant public demand, it now boasts some of the most cycle-friendly routes in the world. It really goes to show that it is possible to revolutionise infrastructure without already having some form of cycle lanes win widespread use. In just a few short years, cycling went from having a 0.5% share of traffic, to an impressive 7%, and while not the same take-up as some other cities, it’s still on the rise.
- Copenhagen, Denmark
Denmark in general has excellent cycle routes, but the capital Copenhagen is by far the best. The model is one which a great many other cities look to when planning their own, and with good reason. Cyclists in the city boast a share of traffic around 35-40%. New constructions are underway to further improve this, but the authorities seem to have taken their foot off the pedal in recent years. It used to be the case that they were aiming to have bikes constitute 50% of traffic, but more and more infrastructure for motorised traffic is making this aim a long way off. Visit while you can, because there may be better options in just a few years.
- Amsterdam, Netherlands
The Netherlands is undoubtedly the world’s most bike-friendly country, with lanes stretching for many miles and between cities. The capital Amsterdam is therefore unsurprisingly the best in the world – it really is a cyclist’s dream. The infrastructure isn’t perhaps as organised as in Copenhagen, but the general atmosphere and attitude is unrivalled. Everything is extremely relaxed, and while enthusiasts in other countries might pick premium bikes with serious riding gear, the locals stick with very basic bikes that frequently have only a few gears, a basket on the front and no brakes. Cyclists dominate the city centre, making it feel generally very safe.