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Photo: pasotraspaso

From Mumbai to Blackpool to Tokyo, urban cycling is becoming more accessible, more accepted, and a more attractive option for touring a city’s sights.
Mumbai, India

When you add up the equation “cycling” + “urban tourism,” you often assume “= Europe.” After all, the continent is home to many of the world’s most bike friendly cities.

Photo: zedvox

Places like Mumbai are looking to change the equation.

As reported in this New York Times travel blog post, a company called Odati Adventures has put together a “Mumbai City Cycle Ride.”

The focus is on commonly overlooked attractions — fitting, for as any avid cyclist knows, two-wheeled travel opens up all kinds of experiences that get passed over by the car-bound.

Leisure cycling in Mumbai still can’t be considered safe, which is why the tours run early on Sunday mornings, when traffic is most manageable.

But who knows — a successful cycle tour program could rewrite the city’s relationship with the bike.

Blackpool, England

With London set to unveil a monumental Paris-esque bike-hire scheme next summer, you’d expect it to be U.K. bicycle tourism’s front-page news.

Not if Blackpool has anything to say about it.

Also inspired by Paris’s groundbreaking Vélib’ program, this seaside resort town of 140,000 is launching an on-street bicycle rental system that will count 500 bikes by next spring.

Tourists are the primary target of the initiative and will be able to rent for a daily fee of £8.

However, it’s hoped Blackpool residents — who apparently suffer from extremely low rates of adult exercise — will take advantage as well. Swipe cards will be made available to commuters, providing a free half hour’s ride and charging £1/hour after that.

Photo: mrhayata

Tokyo, Japan

The urban mass of greater Tokyo is tied together by one of the city’s busiest subway routes, the circular Yamanote line.

More than 3.5 million passengers use the line each day, and to complete a journey around the loop takes a little over an hour.

What does this have to do with bicycles?

The New York Times recently featured a story by Harris Salat on a wonderfully novel concept: tracing the path of the Yamanote on two wheels.

Salat rented his ride through Cool Bike and made a three-day tour out of the 21-mile route, stopping frequently to experience the teahouses, gardens, tofu shops, sumo parades, riverside paths — in short, the classic Tokyo juxtaposition of tradition and modernity — he passed along the way.

While not an organized cycle tourism “development,” per se, his account makes for a good read, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it inspired copycat tours.

Hey, I’m game.

Community Connection

Matador loves bikes. You could spend a whole day digging through our bicycle-related content. Here’s a start:

10 Long-Distance Bicycle Routes in the U.S.

6 Reasons to Go By Bike

And They Stoned Me: The Joy Of Cycling Ethiopia

How To Be Good (Better) Drivers and Cyclists

8 Quirky Bike Rides across the U.S.

Bicycling the Pacific Coast and into the Great Beyond



About The Author

Hal Amen

Hal Amen is a managing editor at Matador. His personal travel blog is WayWorded.

  • Carlo

    Melbourne’s been talking about a bike-hire program for a while, hopefully they get something together.

  • April

    the food and deco all look cute enough, but I’m still not sure my stomach is strong enough to sit through a meal there. Then again, can never assume things until you have been there. Would like to go in have a look tho.

  • Mari Lynch

    Thanks for this ecotourism piece on cycling. Here in Monterey County, California, businesses and organizations are motivating tourists, and locals, to bicycle more by offering discounts at hotels, educational attractions, entertainment venues, and restaurants on Thursdays, just for cycling! Details on this new project, HER Helmet Thursdays, are at

  • Blackpool Theatre

    The trial Blackpool scheme has been a success well sort of. A small number of bikes, about 40 have been trialled in Blackpool’s South Shore and a few in Stanley park. The main problem that has been encountered is the lovely winter weather in Blackpool. During the winter we have high winds and fair bit of rain. The bikes are out in all weather plus they are on the prom about 15 meters from the sea!! So the salt, sand, wind and sea water has had its usuall corrosive effect on the chains, brakes etc.
    The company runnning have learned that they need different bikes and thats what will happen this summer. We are getting new bikes that are more suitable to the climate and lots more hire locations along the promenade and into the town centre.

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