Put The Pedal To The Metal
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Is it feasible to bike around most cities?
Instead of renting a car to travel around the city you're visiting, rent a bike. Many cities in North America are bike friendly, but Northern and Central Europe take the lead for cycling infrastructure: you'll find storage facilities scattered throughout their cities, protected two-way bicycle lanes, bike bridges and bike ferries. Even if you don't own a bike, you can take advantage of this infrastructure in two ways:
- Rent a bike: www.bikeaccess.net not only hooks you up with bike rentals all over Europe but also provides information about bike access and storage at airports and on trains.
- Use a community-owned bike. Check www.ibike.org/encouragement/freebike.htm for a directory of community bike programs all over the world. Some, like Oybike(www.oybike.com), in London, and CallBike (www.callabike.de) in Germany, require you to call and get a PIN number that enables you to unlock the public bikes found at strategic locations all over the city. These programs generally operate on a pay-as-you-go basis and are very reasonable. Oybike, for example, offers the first half-hour of use for free and charges a maximum of about $15 for a 24-hour rental. Others, like City Bikes in Norway, Finland and Denmark provide access to bikes through a coin-operated system. When you return the bike, your coins are returned, as with shopping carts in Europe. Bikes can be dropped off at any City Bike station in town. Even better, the vehicles used in community bike programs are often recycled.
- In the US, you can access information about bike sharing at www.metrobike.com.