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Trip Ideas

The World’s Most Bike-Friendly Cities

Sometimes the best way to see a city is on two wheels. Luckily, these 10 spots have the best bike-friendly streets in the world. Pedal on.

See recent posts by Andrew Skwarek

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With 100,000 more bikes than residents, Copenhagen easily takes the crown as the cycling capital of the world. In fact, 55 percent of the population regularly commutes to work and school along 266 miles of dedicated bicycle lanes, and 75 percent pedal year-round (snow be damned). Make Skt. Petri hotel your home base while visiting, and borrow one of its free bikes to tool around town. Must-see spots include Nyhavn waterfront promenade, Rosenborg Castle, Strøget shopping district (don’t forget your credit card) and the Royal Danish Theatre. Ready to replenish the calories you’ve burned? Head to Cap Horn, which offers a rotating organic menu, including free-range pink-roasted lamb culotte with ricotta, walnuts, raisins and burnt carrot.

Where to Stay: Skt. Petri

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The best way to see Amsterdam is on two wheels. And the locals would agree (75 percent — that’s 88,000 people — own a bike). With 310 miles of cycling lanes, it’s estimated that residents and tourists bike a combined 1.2 million miles every day (talk about bragging rights). So it’s a good thing that the city plans to add 38,000 bike parking spaces by 2020. Want to join the cycling craze? Bed down at the trendy Andaz Amsterdam Prinsengracht and take one of the free bicycles for a spin, stopping at notable attractions such as Vondelpark, Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, De 9 Straatjes shopping district and the Anne Frank House.

Where to Stay: Andaz Amsterdam Prinsengracht

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Montreal? A bike hub? The hilly terrain and brutal, bone-chilling winters might make you think otherwise, but this French-Canadian city has become the cycling heart of North America, and it has 455 miles of bike paths to prove it. (Plus, Montreal is spending almost $11.5 million to create an additional 35 miles of bike-friendly riding this year.) The city’s ultimate goal is to have 795 total miles of lanes. We recommend you catch some Zs at Le Petit Hotel in Montreal’s charming Old Town and use one of their free bicycles to take in the sights. Head to top attractions such as Basilique Notre-Dame and Parc du Mont-Royal, and if you need to refuel, visit Schwartz’s Deli for a smoked meat sandwich or grab a bite at Fairmount Bagel. Looking for some suds? McAuslan Brewery, on the Lachine Canal, is the place to be.

Where to Stay: Le Petit Hotel

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Portland, OR

Leave it to hipster haven Portland to be one of the greenest cities in the U.S. How do they do it? By ditching the car for two wheels. So far this year, 7.2 percent of commuters have traveled via bicycle (which means 17,000 workers in Portland choose not to burn rubber — the highest percentage of people in a large urban area). Its master plan is that by 2030, more than 25 percent of all trips will be via bicycle. Currently there are 350 miles of bikeways on the ground (and 6,500 bike racks), with more than 50 miles to be developed. If you’re looking for a central stay, your best bet is the Hotel Monaco Portland, which offers free bike rentals as an added perk. The itinerary? Start by biking from the Eastbank Esplanade to the Springwater Corridor, and then circle back to the International Rose Test Garden and Portland Japanese Garden. Reward yourself by stopping at the epic food truck scene on 10th and Alder streets before capping it all off with a scoop of honey lavender ice cream at Salt & Straw.

Where to Stay: Hotel Monaco Portland, a Kimpton Hotel

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Minneapolis is a close runner-up to Portland when it comes to pedal pushing. Not only is the city home to Cedar Lake Trail (America’s first bicycle freeway), but it also has 129 miles of on-street bikeways (this includes bike boulevards, which are safer routes with less traffic and stop signs) and 97 miles of off-street bike-only riding. On average, 5 percent of the population reduces their carbon footprint by hopping on a bike to work, and the city’s goal is to up that number to 15 percent by 2025. If you’re staying at The Grand Hotel Minneapolis, exploring the city is easy. Just borrow one of the free bicycles and head to the Sculpture Garden, Guthrie Theater, Science Museum of Minnesota and the Mill City Museum. After some serious pedaling, indulge with a meal at chef Isaac Becker’s James Beard Award-winning 112 Eatery (order the bone-in pork with corn and pecorino hash or the tagliatelle with foie gras meatballs).

Where to Stay: The Grand Hotel Minneapolis

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The Windy City is seriously catching the cycling drift. Chicago already has 200 miles of on-street cycling lanes, as well as miles of car-free paths (including the picturesque 18.5-mile Lakefront Trail). But its aggressive plan is to have a 645-mile network for bikes in place by 2020. See the city on two wheels (stay at the PUBLIC Chicago so you don’t have to pay for a rental), and visit places like the Art Institute, Lincoln Park Zoo and Millennium Park. For eats, we recommend spinning your spokes to Big Star for outstanding chips and guac before heading south for a few suds at the Chicago outpost of the California-based Lagunitas Brewing Company.

Where to Stay: PUBLIC Chicago

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Barbecue, beer and bicycles? You bet. The compact Texas capital has over 40 bike share stations in downtown, with goals to triple the number of bike trips by 2020, as well as increase parking spots by 50 percent, so getting around town will be a cinch. Start with a hearty lunch at Franklin Barbecue — the 2.5-hour-long wait is worth it and even celebs like Kanye West have been spotted standing in line for the mouthwatering brisket. Then, rent a B-Cycle from the station outside (or if you’re staying at Lone Star Court Hotel, borrow one of their rides) and pedal past the Capitol Building, through downtown and across the Colorado River to Barton Springs Pool, where the water is fed from natural underground springs and is a perfect 68 to 70 degrees year-round.

Where to Stay: Lone Star Court Hotel

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No need to worry about a sober driver here. Take a tour of the 20-mile urban vineyards route with Bordeaux by Bike to get your wine fix. Greater Bordeaux is also going green, with more than 400 miles of bicycle paths. Not sure where to stay? Hotel Burdigala Bordeaux is super central, and just a few blocks away, you’ll find one of its bike-share stations (there are 170 of them in total). Explore the city by pedaling to the eponymous cathedral, across the Pont de Pierre and back to the Place de la Bourse.

Where to Stay: Hotel Burdigala Bordeaux - MGallery Collection

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New York City

When the sidewalks and subways get packed with tourists, New Yorkers take to the streets by bike. To promote this, the city has expanded its bike network by nearly 300 miles in the past few years, and it’s on track to install 15 more miles this winter. New York’s bike-share program, Citibike, has also proven to be a success since its launch in 2013 (it recently has expanded as far north as Harlem), with plans for 600 docking stations and 10,000 bikes before the start of 2017. If you’re looking for free bicycles to borrow, but also want easy access to car-free paths, we recommend a stay at The Maritime Hotel, just a block and a half from the 32-mile-long Manhattan Waterfront Greenway that circles the island.

Where to Stay: The Maritime Hotel

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Washington D.C.

Biking our nation’s capital is easy, with 3,500 bike-shares available at more than 400 stations. The Kimpton Topaz Hotel offers free bicycle rentals and is located in desirable Dupont Circle, just a few minutes from D.C.’s top attractions. Speed over to The Grill Room in Georgetown for lunch (try the crispy open-faced Maryland soft shell crab sandwich, with fried spring onion and pickled cabbage). Then work it off by riding the two-mile-long National Mall or the Capital Crescent Trail, which hugs the scenic Potomac River.

Where to Stay: Kimpton Topaz Hotel

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