In just a few short days, it will be World Car Free Day, which aside from spending the day not stuck in traffic, will be a prime moment to talk about the bicycle. So right off the bat, there are two things we should get straight. First—neither spring, nor summer, are the best times of year for biking. That accolade goes to fall, when weather is most moderate and crispy air constantly reminds that outdoor time is waning. Second—having a personal chauffeur drive you around a place you don’t know may be bad ass,but biking is really the best way to explore a new city.
You expect bike tourism to be big in places like, New York, DC, Chicago, Portland and even San Francisco, which despite the hills, is always on a top ten bike-friendly city list. But we’ve discovered three more cities on their way to joining that club and they’re candidates you’d probably never expect. That’s because three of the most up and coming bike cities are actually the most car-friendly towns in America.
Has the bicycle finally taken its rightful place a top the urban-vehicular chain of life? Maybe, though the motorcycle might have something to say about that. We’re just glad that physical movement in the form of biking is catching on in these great American towns detailed here, all of which are worthy of exploring this fall.
The ancestral home of the car is quickly becoming a bastion for bicyclists. Since 2008, Detroit’s bicycle lane network has expanded to a total of 55 miles and in 2014 is set to take over Ann Arbor as Michigan’s most bike friendly city. The paths include a loop along the waterfront overlooking Canada, Dequindre Cut, an old railway line that’s been converted into a green bike path, an Underground Railroad Bicycle Route highlighting the town’s connection to slavery and Greenlink, a route that cuts though Detroit’s commercial districts like Corktown and Midtown.
The town that’s best known for the largest car race in the world (you know, the Indy 500), inaugurated one of the most ambitious bike projects in the country this year. Called the Cultural Trail, it is eight miles of bikeway that doesn’t just connect the city’s disparate neighborhoods, but leads bikers along a beautiful path festooned with contemporary public art, museums and parks. For giving up actual car traffic lanes for the bikes, the Project for Public Spaces has called it the, “biggest and boldest step by any American city,” in terms of bike planning.
No other city on Earth loves their cars as much as LA, but the city’s really trying to surpass that image. It might take a while, but they’re off to a good start with their “Car Free LA” program that has done a good job at providing visitors with ways to see the town without ever having to wait in traffic. In the past few years they’ve been fostering companies like Bikes and hikes LA, an eco-friendly tour operator specializing in bike tours of the entire Los Angeles area. But you’re in LA, so why not amble along the coast on two wheels. Two places can help out—Perry’s and Pedal or Not.
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