Bike commuting doesn’t have to be limited to riding to and from work, or running errands around town. In fact, I have professed, on numerous occasions, that my favorite method of exploring a new country, state, city or town - is on a bike.
Many European cities are exceptionally bicycle friendly and make commuting by bicycle easy. In fact, Amsterdam and Copenhagen are notorious for their bike friendly culture. But, to my surprise, urban metropolises like Tokyo and Chicago are also making efforts to encourage transportation by bike.
Although both Tokyo and Kyoto have mass transit systems, they also have designated and well respected bike lanes. In Tokyo, a technologically advanced and modern city with over 13 million residents, you can join the masses funneling into the city’s complex subway system, or you can hop on a rental bike at one of the many rental kiosks available around town. Like the popular cycle rental kiosks available in the United States, Japan, and many other countries, have a similar bike rental kiosk system. You can rent a bike from a kiosk for a few minutes, or several days. In addition, many large cities, like Tokyo, have a myriad of bike shops that cater to tourists and rent a variety of bikes, from electric bikes to road bikes, perfect for exploring the city.
Limiting your travel transportation to the subway or mass transit system when in a new city can be confining. Last summer while in Kyoto, my husband selected a hotel because it had electric bikes available for its guests. We checked the bikes out every morning and returned them, with dead batteries, in the evening. Each morning, the bikes were returned to us with charged batteries and ready for our next daily adventure. While in Kyoto, we never took the subway or a taxi. On bikes, we were able to explore the city in a depth that we would have missed in a taxi or on the subway. We found incredible bakeries on side streets that we surely would have missed in a taxi, and we discovered ancient shops on secluded side streets and alleyways that we would have passed right under on the subway.
Finding a hotel with bikes available has become a priority in our vacation travels. In Charleston, our hotel had cruiser bikes available for all guests. Pedaling to our dinner reservation was far more enjoyable than trudging the cobblestone streets in the city’s infamous humidity. In Charlotte, although our hotel did not provide its guests with bikes, but a bicycle rental kiosk was conveniently located right outside.
It’s surprising how many hotels now make bikes available to their guests. Just check online before you book your hotel and ask if bikes are available. And, many cities both in the United States and abroad offer bicycle rental kiosks. Check out www.bcycle.com/top-nav-bar/bikes-stations for a list of cities in the Unites States with bike rental kiosks.
In addition, with so many hotels now offering bikes to their guests, there are now online directories for bike hotels. Check out http://www.bikabout.com/lodging/ before your next vacation. Not only can you save yourself the hassle of navigating a new city by car or subway, you can also get your lungs, heart and legs pumping while exploring sites that would be otherwise overlooked in standard mass transportation.