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SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - With fuel costs soaring and environmental conservation in vogue, the bicycle is making a comeback in many cities, becoming a major part of urban transportation plans.
Men's website AskMen.com (www.askmen.com) has come up with a list of the world's top most bicycle-friendly cities. Reuters has not endorsed this list:
1. Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Amsterdam's comes top when it comes to bicycle-friendly cities and nearly 40 percent of all commutes in Amsterdam are done by bicycle. Public bikes are available to rent and plans to construct a massive bike parking structure at the city's main train station are underway.
2. Copenhagen, Denmark
About 32 percent of Copenhagen residents are biking to work on a regular basis. The city's pro-bike culture allows you to rent a public bike for free for just a deposit.
3. Bogota, Colombia
While government programs for bike riding aren't as robust as those in Europe or America, Bogota has a demographic advantage that makes it a bicycle-friendly city -- only 13 percent of residents own cars, which makes bicycles a necessity. In fact, once a week, the city closes over 70 miles of streets to vehicle traffic in favor of bicycle riders, joggers, skaters and others.
4. Curitiba, Brazil
Bicycle integration is at the core of the well-planned Curitiba. The city has been pushing cycling as the go-to mode of transportation for more than 40 years and the result has been the ubiquity of bike lanes. A vibrant bike-oriented activist community exists to promote bicycle riding as an alternative to auto congestion.
5. Montreal, Canada
Two years ago, Montreal embarked on a $134 million plan to revamp the city's bike trails and create a more bicycle-friendly atmosphere. The plan included incorporating bicycle-friendly lock points into standard parking meters. The city currently boasts 2,400 miles of trails with plans to expand. Montreal also has the first urban bike-share infrastructure in North America, the Bixi program.
6. Portland, Oregon, United States
Portland has created bicycle paths that connect the urban neighborhoods so a rider can bypass auto commuting altogether. The city also offers low-cost commuter bicycles to the city's less wealthy residents which come complete with a helmet, lock, pump, maps, and rain gear. With over 260 miles of trails and paths, Portland achieves a commuter rate of nearly 9 percent.
7. Basel, Switzerland
Basel features street lanes specifically geared toward bicycle riders and include left-hand turn lanes that are unique to riders. Basel also supports a robust network of bike-rental programs that allow tourists and residents alike to ride.
8. Barcelona, Spain
Among the now-standard bike lanes, signals and maps that are ubiquitous in major European cities, Barcelona also has created a green ring that runs the perimeter of the urban core. This bike path is peppered with 100 different bike stations as part of Barcelona's bike-sharing program, allowing riders to rent and drop off at different locations.
9. Beijing, China
As in most developing countries, the car is on the rise, but biking is still the best way to get around Beijing as car traffic is so slow and congested. Air quality has been a major issue with the promotion of bicycle riding as a prominent policy push.
10. Trondheim, Norway
One of the biggest drawbacks to riding a bicycle has to be pedaling uphill so Trondheim has come up with a novel solution to riding uphill -- bicycle lifts that act like ski tows and allow the rider to glide up a hill without having to pedal.
Editing by Miral Fahmy