When it comes to bike-friendly facilities and active travel initiatives, the UK has come a long way, but there’s still a lot of work to do to make active travel by bike a part of everyday life. As active travel gains popularity and focus here in the UK, let’s look at four of the best active travel examples worldwide for inspiration.
Utrecht in the Netherlands is one of the most cycle-friendly cities in the world. In fact, over half of the city’s population, 51%, use their bikes daily to get to school or work. The Stationsplein bike parking facility first opened in 2019 to make car use in the city less attractive to cars and to get more of the community using their bicycles. They have certainly achieved that goal with modern, inviting and warden-controlled facilities that the community are happy to use.
The facility has 12,500 parking spaces and covers a vast 17,000 square metres. Users can park for free for the first 24 hours, with a simple check-in and checking-out process. There are also onsite bike repair facilities and space for cargo bike users.
Hangzhou bike hire docks
The city of Hangzhou, China, boasts the world’s largest bike-sharing scheme with 2700 bike stations and over 85,800 bicycles and counting across those stations. Reaching 115 million hires per year in 2017, it’s one of the most accessible and successful bike-sharing schemes in the world.
The bike hire scheme was initiated to tackle the air pollution issues in cities across China. Hangzhou, with a population of almost 8 million, decided to take action to reduce the need for cars in the city. Under the scheme, 95% of bike hires are free of change. The bikes can be accessed using a prepaid electronic card and are used by millions of locals and tourists annually.
Paris’ Covid cycle lane transformation
Since the coronavirus pandemic, Paris has invested heavily in expanding the number of segregated cycle lanes and more than tripled its cycle parking facilities. Paris’s 2021-2026 bicycle plan aims to make the capital 100% cyclable to get more city goers out of their cars and cycling around the city.
If successful, Paris could become one of the world’s most cycle-friendly city destinations. With a 250 million euro investment, the bike plan aims to connect Paris’s suburbs with 130 kilometres of cycle paths being added to the existing network.
Copenhagen’s ‘fully connected’ cycling infrastructure
Copenhagen is well known as one of the world’s most cycle-friendly destinations and another city which sees half of its population travelling by bicycle. In fact, bicycles in the city outnumber cars by 5 to 1. So why is cycling so popular in Copenhagen? It’s largely down to its innovative and connected cycling infrastructure made up of segregated paths and dedicated bridges which connect and form a cycling super highway across the city.
Copenhagen’s high investment in cycling infrastructure is paying off in multiple ways. The city has seen a significant drop in congestion, and the residents are healthier as a result.
What about the UK, then?
When we think about our cycling initiatives in the UK, some cities stand out as cycling friendly. London, with its quiet ways and cycling superhighways, helps Londoners complete at least part of their commute on two wheels. Cambridge and Oxford are also known for leading the charge on cycling infrastructure with an impressive network of cycle paths across both cities. Bristol also has one of the most used cycle paths in the country – the Bristol to Bath railway path, and it holds the title of England’s first Cycling city awarded in 2008.
The government agency Active Travel England is investing £5.5 million in walking and cycling initiatives. It’s essential that the cycling community get behind the active travel schemes proposed across the UK; with more investment, the UK could join some of the most cycle-friendly cities in the world.