Paige Green shares her cycling experience from around the world:
Some of the great things about travelling are, of course, meeting new people, learning about new cultures, trying new food – but I always get excited about figuring out how to get around town. Every country, every city has its own unique rhythm and it’s so invigorating to get caught up in the hustle and bustle on the streets of New York, the chaotic tumble of Ho Chi Minh or the laid back cruising pace against the spectacular backdrop of Ireland.
I have to say that after spending years travelling around, one of my favourite methods of local transport is by bicycle, especially in many Asian countries. I was so excited to pick out my pink “mama cherry” to weave through the streets of Matsumoto, Japan – with my little basket up front for my groceries!
If you’re new to the idea of cycling on pedestrian pathways without helmets or navigating on busy streets amongst rickshaws and semi-trailers – here’s some tips on bike etiquette round the world:
Shanghai: As in many of the major cities in China and through Asia, bicycles rule the roads. There are bike lanes but you’ll find that they’re completely ignored by locals. And there’s no room for the timid cycler — loud and aggressive is the key to staking your claim on the road. The landscape is relatively flat and gentle so you go with the flow at an easy-going pace.
Tokyo: For all the motor vehicles that Japan produces, two wheel bicycles are still exceptionally popular in all parts of Japan. Many cyclists use pedestrian walkways rather than the streets, but many bikes are fitted with bells to warn walkers of their incoming arrival. For visitors in Japan, be sure to lock your bikes up with the supplied back tire lock – despite the low crime rate throughout the country, bike theft is common – mostly by students who are looking for a quick way to get to the train station.
Amsterdam: If you’re looking for cheap flights, Europe is a prime destination, while urban cyclists will delight in the infrastructure of Amsterdam. This is the bike capital of Europe, and likely the world, as the Dutch have taken bike paths to a whole new level. The 16.4 million locals own around 17 million bikes – so you know that they take their street riding seriously! Revel in the fact that bikes generally have the right of way so it’s certainly one of the safest cities to ride in. However, be aware that locals ride aggressively and pay little heed to map-reading tourists!
Portland, Oregon: In the States, Portland has an extensive network of cycle ways and bike paths that make getting around this city easy – and they’re always making improvements. Meanwhile, the community is helping to build a strong awareness around the benefits of cycling as a form of commuting.
Cycling Challenge Cambodia – For those looking for unique first-hand experience holiday packages, volunteerism is where it’s at and cycling is a great way to get involved. Test your endurance for a great cause – Action Aid’s Cycle Challenge is a six day cycling tour of the breathtaking Cambodian countryside to raise awareness and funds to fight poverty in the area. Cyclers will also spend several days working alongside the community with the locals to better their way of life.
Where are your favourite cycling destinations?
Paige Green is a travel writer and blogger, writing for Flight Centre, supplier of cheap flights. After living in Japan for 18 months, the two things she misses the most about the place is good okonomiyaki and her pink “mama cherry” bike.