Visiting a big city riding a bike: a smart idea

Low cost flights and better deals in hotels and accommodation have made in recent years much easier and cheaper to travel in Italy and Europe, even for the duration of a weekend or taking advantage of the long weekends created by some strategic holydays. If we picked a capital or a medium to large city, it would be a smart idea to wholly enjoy the holiday, avoiding the traffic stress and relying on the bicycle, that many cities provide tourists for free (or almost). In the Italian region Emilia-Romagna, for example, is active since a long time the “Mi muovo in bici” net (www.mimuovoinbici.it/), that provides a network of bike-sharing with over 600 bicycles for short trips without problems of parking and access to the LTZ in the eleven municipalities of Piacenza, Parma, Reggio Emilia, Scandiano, Modena, San Lazzaro (Bologna), San Giovanni in Persiceto (Bologna), Ferrara, Ravenna, Forlì, Cesena and Rimini.

 

Then, look at “Bike Sharing Italy”, an app that allows you to check real-time availability of bicycles (available in Italian, English, German and French) in the bike-sharing stations in more than 50 Italian locations (including Milan-BikeMi, Turin-ToBike, Brescia-Bicimia, Roma-Roma-n-biking, Venice-Bicincittà and others) and their distance from our position, while Florence and Rome have specific sites, like www.bicifirenze.it/cms2/ and www.ROMA-n-bike.com/progetto.asp. The situation in the rest of Europe is even better: in Zurich, bicycles can be rented for free, from city bikes to eBike up to those for children. Just present a valid I.D. and provide a deposit of 20 Swiss francs (www.zuerich.com/it/visitare/sport/noleggio-bici-gratis).

Bike Commuter in Portland Oregon

 

Also, visiting Amsterdam by bike is an experience to be done sooner or later, getting lost in the modern architecture and along the canals. When visiting the Dutch capital for the first time, you realize how using the two wheels can completely change life in the city, and you will be surprised by the number of bikes: rough estimates speak of some 500,000 in circulation in Amsterdam, on a population of 800,000 people. Here, too, rental is free (www.amsterdamforfree.it/bici-ad-amsterdam), and very convenient (2 € per day) is also in Vienna, where all you need to do to use a “CityBike” is register and require a CityBike Card (using a credit card) on www.citybikewien.at/ or directly at one of the bike terminals.

 

In Barcelona a real boom took place: two months after the bike-sharing was launched, there already were 100,000 subscribers, representing 9% of the adult population, with 2 million trips and 14 million pedalled kilometers. The most bike-friendly city in Europe, however, is Copenhagen, where the centre is pretty much a walking and cycling area and where rental is free (https://bycyklen.dk/en/), while in Brussels is active the en.villo.be/ circuit, where you can rent a bike for little over a euro per week.

 

Well, now we our bikes ready to go, but in order to avoid surprises and wastes of energy, it’s better to use some precautions, like for instance downloading one or more apps: Bike Repair has 51 guides and 71 bike repairs tips very well explained, while Warmshowers (iPhone) is the hospitality exchange website among bike travelers. With this application you can consult at any time of day accommodated availability among users of the community and finding out if someone is close to us. Besides, some manufacturers (including Rosewheel, Quad Lock, Btr, Tao Tronics and Qumox) are putting on the market bike cell-phone holders designed to use it as a navigator. Last but least, the right gear is very important for a nice day of riding: beyond personal needs, your equipment will also comprise a waterproof windbreaker, a backpack (in which storing water and, why not, sunscreen), a hat and comfortable shoes.

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