As a clean, green way of getting from A to B, a great way to keep fit and a conduit for adventure, cycling has become a well-established part of urban culture over the years. Here are 5 places around the world to sate every cyclist’s appetite.
The Netherlands is undoubtedly one of the cycling capitals of the world, with many legislations and initiatives tailored to the support of cyclists and an infrastructure that makes it one of the safest countries in the world to be a cyclist.
Since its introduction into the country’s urban society cycling has been exponentially encouraged for the economic benefits it has brought. The infrastructure in place puts cyclists first with a vast network of cycle tracks; a series of interconnecting dedicated tracks, separated from both roads and pathways by verges, kerbs or natural barriers, increasing cycling safety. It was calculated that with the increase of average life expectancy, improvements to national fitness, lower emissions and a decrease in road traffic related fatalities, the economy would benefit from the healthcare costs saved.
These safe cycle tracks were also made available and encouraged for school children to use, saving around £390million of public costs of school travel per year. The benefits also spread to the workplace with increased fitness and happiness in the workforce and foreign spending from increased cycling tourism.
Cycling cities are just one example of how green economies can be more beneficial than current models and that economies geared towards sustainability are more prosperous if planned correctly.
Lands’ End to John O’Groats, UK
When someone uses the words “cycling” and “UK” in the same sentence you’d be forgiven for picturing the chaotic image of biking through London streets but outside of that catastrophe is a land steeped in mystical history and beautiful landscapes waiting to be seen at your own pace.
The famous “End to End” route stretching from Lands’ End in Cornwall up to John O’Groats in Caithness offers a taste of all types of cycling. There are several well-established routes, some longer than others and you can even forge your own route but all-in-all the trip comes to approx. 900miles. The route encompasses every UK habitat from the undulating landscapes and tranquil woodland of the south, to the rugged highlands, mysterious coniferous forests and deep lakes and lochs of the north.
If timed correctly it’s possible to see every season along your 10-14 day trip and can equally be a casual ride to take in the scenery, a mountain biking adventure over rougher terrain, or feature elements of both.
In response to calls for sustainability the municipality of the city began investing heavily in cycling infrastructure. £115million of funding has been pumped into making the city cycling friendly, with megastructures such as the recent Inderhavnsbro and the Cykelslangen (literally translating to cycle snake); an elevated bridge connecting the harbour bridge to the highway. The huge two-way cycle lane is only accessible for cyclists and pedestrians, separating the otherwise hectic congestion when mixed with motor traffic.
This investment and campaigns designed to encourage people to cycle finally paid off when the number of bicycles outnumbered cars in the city centre; as of November 2016 there were 35,080 more bikes than cars!
There are also proposals for further clever city planning that would make cycling and walking the quickest and most direct route between destinations, followed by slightly longer journey times for public transport and a shamelessly convoluted route for cars to passively discourage people from driving.
Cape of Good Hope, South Africa
However, if adventure cycling is more your thing, this is the place. Tourists flock annually to ride south from Cape Town to the Cape of Good Hope. There are guided cycle tours on offer to take you down to the Peninsula, however you can follow the road at your own pace.
The road features many key tourist spots along the way such as Boulders Beach, home to a colony of African Penguins and the striking geology of Chapman’s Peak. The road itself is revered as one of the most beautiful coastal roads in the world and the final third of the journey runs through the Cape of Good Hope Reserve. The reserve is fenced with the only access being through gates along the road, meaning there’s good chance of spotting a whole range of wildlife along the way including Zebra, Ostrich and Red Hartebeest.
Once you’ve reached the end of the road (if you’re feeling up to it) you can go a little further. A short hike will take you to Cape Point, the most southwestern point of the African continent, home to two lighthouses each offering stunning vistas of the Cape. The only land south of Cape Point is Antarctica.
La Route Verte, Canada
If you’re a true explorer type however you can reconnect with the great outdoors riding Canada’s impressive La Route Verte; a network of bike lanes crosshatching the Quebec province. Despite its rugged surroundings the route itself is comprised of rural roads and designated bike paths, some of which are constructed on top of a decommissioned railway line, providing a comfortable to moderate ride.
La Route Verte stretches 2,485 miles in its entirety, and because of its criss-cross nature, leaves a lot of room to play with. People usually mark out their routes according to their ability or time frame, with some stretches featuring more urban areas and others cutting through forests and by mountains, rivers, marshes and lakes, all without seeing another person. No matter where you pick your start and finish though, there’s always plenty to see as the route signposts you to local points of interest.
Some routes can be defined by riding between rest stops dotted along La Route Verte to make it even more convenient but whatever your style this one takes a lot of commitment and planning; for true cycling fanatics.
Cycling may not be everyone’s cup of tea for a holiday trip and may be more of a means to an end but these five routes would definitely convince you to saddle up.
By Thomas Phillips - Online Journalism Intern