Bike-friendly cities worth the pedaling
Imagine what you might see while pedaling around a town from site to site, instead of riding underground on the subway.
The members and editors of travel website VirtualTourist.com compiled this list of the five spots to explore by bicycle.
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
While Montreal's most famous paths may lie underground, its most intriguing routes in the upcoming warmer months lie in its 2,400 miles of bike trails and paths.
The first North American city to adopt a bicycle-sharing program, Montreal has a few popular rides, including along the Lachine Canal, the quays of the Old Port and Rue McGill.
In addition to paths within the city, Montreal lies in the center of the Route Verte, a series of bikeways throughout Quebec modeled after Denmark's national cycle routes and the Danube and Rhine bikeways.
Two parks line the Willamette River -- Waterfront Park to the West and Eastbank Esplanade to the East -- giving visitors the opportunity to take in both the city view and the river's scenery while cycling.
A two-block detour from Waterfront Park at the Burnside Bridge will take travelers to the Portland Saturday Market.
For a great example of Oregon's well-known conservation efforts, travelers can head slightly further south to the Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge. Located on the east side of the Willamette River, the refuge is a floodplain wetland and well-known for its bird population.
While it has always contained the world's largest Gothic cathedral, Seville, the jewel of Andalucia, had little to no bicycle culture to speak of until the new millennium.
In the past few years, the city has gained both 75 miles of bicycle routes throughout the city, as well as started a bicycle-sharing program.
These updates make it much easier to travel from the Plaza de Espana to the Cathedral in one day.
Austin is famous for its music scene and breakfast tacos, though not so well-known for its bike scene.
Since seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, one of cycling's greatest celebrities, calls Austin home it's understandable that more people are exploring the area by bike.
One scenic route to try includes the paths along Lady Bird Lake in downtown Austin, after which sightseers can ride up to the Barton Creek Greenbelt.
For a little more of the flavor that makes Austin famous, start your ride in the SoCo (South of Congress) neighborhood, biking up Congress Avenue and over the Congress Street Bridge (with its bats), toward Sixth Street, where many of the country's most legendary music venues line the avenue.
Though the most obvious mode of exploring Bruges may be a canal tour, the city is also easily traveled by bike.
By starting at the belfry in the Market or City Hall on the Burg, visitors can easily bike to other sites, such as the Basilica of Holy Blood and the Church of Our Lady, which features Michelangelo's Mother and Child sculpture.
For a longer ride, the Vlaanderen Fietsroute (Flemish Cycle Route) makes it possible to cycle from Bruges to other Belgian cities, including Gent, Antwerp or Brussels.
© 2012 VirtualTourist.com, Distributed by Tribune Media Services Inc.
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