OK, so technically this one was never actually completed, but the California Cycleway is a testament to the popularity of cycling at the turn of the last century. It opened in Los Angeles in 1900, and was an elevated toll way that was meant to connect Pasadena and Los Angeles. Unfortunately, this elevated wooden pathway never made it to light due to the Pacific Electric Railway and the later invention of these four-wheel, engine-propelled, bike-like inventions called "automobiles." Next time someone in LA complains about the traffic, just remind them that it didn't have to be this way.
Copenhagen is perennially ranked as the top cycling city in the world and it’s not just because of boring bike lanes – the Cykelslangen, or Cycle Snake, is an elevated bikeway that's paved in bright orange and designed to ease traffic congestion. Rather than route cyclists through a crowded shopping area along a waterfront, the elevated bike path is a high-speed short cut with an easy grade and smooth curves designed optimally for cyclists. It’s this kind of project that makes Copenhagen the top cycling city almost every year.
Forget Citi Bike, the largest bike sharing system in the world is in Hangzhou, China. With over 60,000 bikes, it’s more than triple the size of the famed Parisian Velib system. Plus, in Hangzhou, you can find a bike share station every 100 meters – that’s three times the density of the Paris system, and considerably greater than just about any other bike share system in the world. At least as amazing as the sheer size of the Hangzhou system is the fact that not a single bike was stolen in the first year of operation. No wonder they haven't returned my calls about outfitting their 60,000 bikes with our anti-theft bike gear yet...
In the Basque city of San Sebastian in northern Spain, there’s an incredible 850 meter (.5 miles) underground commuter tunnel fashioned from a retired railway tunnel. This isn’t exactly the longest tunnel in the world, but it is the longest urban cycling commuter tunnel. If you want to find the longest bike and pedestrian tunnel anywhere, look no further than the Snoqualmie Tunnel in Washington State, at the Snoqualmie Pass. This is another converted railroad tunnel that has become a part of the John Wayne Pioneer Trail. At 2.3 miles (3.7 kilometers) you had better bring your best bike lights.
While this project will probably never happen, and some critics argue that it’s not even a good idea, the SkyCycle elevated bikeway, which would put bike lanes above railways in London, is certainly striking in concept. Lord Norman Foster unveiled the plans last year and made headlines for the radical idea to put cyclists above the gawking crowds – unfortunately for anyone who is looking forward to a Blade Runner style futuristic city with 220 kilometers of bike skyway this project probably won’t find its necessary funding.
In the small town of Trondheim, Norway, lies something unique: a tow-style bike escalator that will pull you and your bike up a steep hill, saving you some huffing and puffing along the way. This isn’t a new feature in Trondheim – it was installed in 1993 and updated in 2013. It’s only 130 meters long, but it goes up a 20% grade, so it is appreciated by both commuters and tourists alike.
It might not be quite as spectacular as some of these projects, but the Hovenring, in Eindhoven, Netherlands, is already making commuting easier for many cyclists. As part of an extensive network of bike lanes and paths, this elevated roundabout lets cyclists easily dodge heavy traffic at a major intersection. Using gentle grades, on on-and off-ramps, cyclists of all kinds can bypass this intersection by rising above the busy traffic below.
Surprise! The Dutch are better at providing bike parking than basically anyone else. Take a look at this bike parking garage at the Central Railway Station in Delft – it can hold 5,000 bikes, you can ride directly in (no carrying your bike down stairs!), and automated racks keep tabs on open spaces as well as when you park and retrieve your bike. There’s even a shop and mechanic on hand if your bike needs fixing!