Bringing back the bike

Many cities are recognizing that bicycles can provide an environmentally friendly alternative to cars on the road. Municipal initiatives to encourage cycling range from improving bike paths to routing cars away from downtown areas. Many North Americans don't view the bike as a year-round transportation solution, but the Dutch and the Danes see things differently; a large percentage of city dwellers cycle contentedly throughout the cold and wet winters of northern Europe. Getting the right kind of bike and having dedicated bike lanes helps to extend the length of the bike-riding season in just about any city.

One of the world's most bike-friendly cities, thanks to its local government, is Amsterdam. There, you find separate bicycle lanes for each direction, with their own traffic lights that sync with those for cars. Spots where you can lock up your bike abound. City buses are equipped with bike racks, which passengers can use to stow their bikes when they board the bus. This sort of intermodal transport — switching between different ways to get around — is critical because it gives commuters convenient and flexible options, and makes it easy for people to not depend on their cars. (Pedal over to Chapter 17 for more about the benefits of bicycles.)

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