The best cities in the world for cycling

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As cars honk and taxis navigate the crowded streets of Mexico City, a different kind of exploratory bliss exists on quieter, greener paths. With a few strokes of the bike pedals, I navigate the wide, empty sidewalk of La Reforma, the city’s largest boulevard, from the La Lagunilla flea market to the sprawling green of Chapultepec Park. Along the way, I take the families out for Sunday rides and hit the brakes when the smell of pit-cooked lamb tempts me to pull over for tasty tacos and a mouth-curing drink. Of wood.

On Sundays in Mexico City, as in Bogotá, Santiago and cities throughout Latin America and the world, the main street is closed to motorized vehicles. These ciclovías offer stress-free (and often free, as some towns offer free bike rentals) entry to the best way to see a new city: on two wheels.

The bike puts you at ground level: interact with other cyclists, move fast but slow enough to take in the scenery, and make the most of a new city by riding past buildings and stopping to look around intersections . Unlike traveling by car, biking around a destination like Mexico City lets you feel the carnitas sizzle, hear the city’s singsong chatter, “Se compran colchones, tambores, refrigeradores,” and stop to watch the giant mural instructing you to “release your bitterness”.

Of course, you can also do this while walking. But the bike covers much more distance in less time, a valuable asset when exploring a new place. And while I’m a big proponent of using public transport when traveling (for many of the reasons listed above), biking keeps you part of the city, gets your heart rate up, and whets your appetite. than public transport or taking taxis doesn’t, which gives me more opportunities to sample new tamales, tlacoyos and tostadas. And it’s just fun.

In recent years, especially during the pandemic, cities have realized the value of car-free streets. Some places have added specific miles or days of roads closed to cars, built separate bike lanes, or even opened dedicated bike lanes, which, as a bonus, tend to naturally take the scenic route through parks or beltways. greenery. The number of bike-share systems operating around the world doubled between 2011 and 2015 and again in 2019, making it even faster and easier to get out on two wheels and explore a destination by bike. The growth of e-bikes, as part of rental and sharing fleets, makes cycling more accessible, especially in hillier cities, and means not getting to such humid places.

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