Best places to live and cycle

Paris: In the space of just a few years, Paris has built 33 kilometers of bicycle lanes and another 314 kilometers of roads that cyclists can share with other vehicles. The target is to create another 300 kilometers of bike paths by 2010. The company that manages the Paris Metro rents bikes at central points to encourage passengers to use them in combination with public transport. Strasbourg: The municipality has created pedestrian zones, built 77 kilometers of bicycle lanes and rents out bikes at main train stations. Within five years, bicycle use has increased from 8 percent to 25 percent of trips, and the aim is to increase that figure to 25 percent. Denmark: In Copenhagen, 34 percent of trips are made by bicycle. There are more than 5 million bicycles in Denmark, or 980 for every 1,000 residents (compared with 220:1,000 in Greece). In 2000-2002, trips by bicycle on the 323 kilometers of bicycle lanes rose by 6 percent, and an estimated 40 percent of workers will pedal to and from work by 2012. The Netherlands: The bicycle could be the emblem of the Netherlands, which boasts 1,100 bicycles for every 1,000 residents, 16 million of them in all. Downtown Amsterdam, where the municipality has implemented pro-bicycle policies for years, is idyllic. The country has 22,000 kilometers of bicycle paths, compared with 110,000 kilometers of roads, and 28 percent of trips are made by bike. Great Britain: Five programs intended to promote bicycle use are in place. One of them, the national strategy for the bicycle, was announced in 1996 by the Transport Ministry, and aims at quadrupling bicycle use by 2016. Other programs, under the auspices of the Health Ministry, aim to highlight the health benefits of cycling. A number of other European cities have networks of bicycle lanes. Bilbao in Spain has built a 200-kilometer grid of cycle paths. Dublin has a similar network, covering a total of 120 kilometers. And three cities in Cyprus – Nicosia, Limassol and Paphos – will soon acquire cycle paths. Germany has the the greatest overall number of bicycles – 72 million, or 900 for every 1,000 residents.