Photo: Aleksandra Suzi/Shutterstock

3 New Developments in Bicycle Tourism

Mumbai Tokyo Cycling
by Hal Amen Oct 14, 2009
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.

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.

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.

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