The Bicycle Culture Around the World
Remember those childhood days when your dad bought you a cycle, and you learnt to ride without falling. After several attempts you got it right, and rode with your friends to school and back home, wasn’t that feeling overwhelming?
As we grow up we tend to forget that cycling was such a healthy and viable option, and we switch to motorcycles and fancy cars.
When our roads are clogged with cars and pollution hampering the environment, cycling should be made part of this modern culture, in fact it already is in several cities around the world.
A bicycle is a cheap mode of transport, environment-friendly, and an excellent way of exercising those weary muscles. So I did some research to bring to you vivid facts of the cycling culture adopted by few countries.
Copenhagen, the Striving Bike Culture
The first example that comes to mind is Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark and one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the world. Every day 500,000 people ride their bicycle to work or school, which is 36% of the population who choose to cycle. No wonder Copenhagen is known as one of the cities with the best quality of life, less pollution, more greenery, proper bike lanes so people would at least feel like switching to a cycle to ride to work.
Amsterdam, the Bike Capital of the World
Amsterdam, the bike capital of the world, lets leave aside the other things its known for:), where everyone is on a bike, from a guy dressed in a suit to a woman going for a party, riding a cycle is embedded in their system, its a way of life!
Bicycles are modified to fit their requirements or more number of people, as you can see the picture below. Its wonderful to see people ride their cycles no matter how they are dressed, without a helmet, and even the senior citizens ride a cycle, mothers carry their toddlers on bikes, wish we could emulate this culture in Mumbai instead of following all the bad westernised aspects.
Trondheim, Innovative Bicycle Lift
Trondheim, a city in Norway, has done something innovative to get more people to use bikes. The city introduced bicycle lift called Trampe, the only one in the world, which gets the biker to the top of a very steep hill without peddling.
I don’t think such mechanism is to discourage people from exercising, but just cater to people who are tired after a hard day’s work and don’t want to cycle uphill. It works in a simple manner, the right foot has to be placed in the footplate while the left leg is on the cycle pedal, and the lift pushes you up the hill.
The person using it needs to buy a electronic keycard for the lift to start moving. As you can see in the image below, it hardly occupies any space on the road, since its underground. This bicycle lift is indeed very popular among students.
Free Bikes to All
There are few more cities which are bicycle-friendly as well, like Portland, Oregon in the USA, they had an interesting program, Create a Commuter, whereby low-income adults were provided with bicycle for unrestricted use. Such programs encourage the use of cycles. Even some parts of Netherlands and other places like Helsinki and Copenhagen have a plan that gives free bicycles to use for one trip and then left for someone else at specific junction. It did lead to theft, so it exists only at few places.
Other Bike-friendly Cities
- Boulder, Colorado, USA
- Davis, California, USA
- Sandnes, Norway
- San Francisco, California
- Berlin, Germany
- Barcelona, Spain
- Basel, Switzerland
Let’s push ourselves and others to use bicycles, the best mode of transport and no CO2 emissions either, for a smoke-free environment. It might be a far-fetched thought, but we can always take the first step.