Urban Cycling

6 Breathtaking Urban Bike Paths Around the World

The tunnel de La Croix Rousse in Lyon. Photo by Hugues de BUYER-MIMEURE on Unsplash
The tunnel de La Croix Rousse in Lyon. Photo by Hugues de BUYER-MIMEURE on Unsplash

This post may contain affiliate links, which help to keep Discerning Cyclist rolling. Learn more.

Modern problems often require modern solutions.

With the growing need for bike infrastructure in urban environments, some cities are turning to more creative and innovative ways to build bike lanes.

These aren’t just a line at the side of the road but are often celebrated feats of engineering and design.

We look at six of the most eye-catching and interesting urban bike paths worldwide. 

Cykelslangen, København, Denmark. Photo by Andreas Rasmussen on Unsplash.
Cykelslangen, København, Denmark. Photo by Andreas Rasmussen on Unsplash.

1. Cykelslangen, Copenhagen

It comes as no surprise to see Copenhagen on this list. After all, you don’t win awards for being the most bike-friendly city in the world without a heavy dose of ingenuity. 

There’s one bike lane in the capital that stands above the rest. The Cykelslangen, or Cycle Snake, named after its winding curves, is a brilliant solution to a difficult problem. How do you facilitate cycling whilst maintaining a pedestrianized, harbor-side shopping area? 

Designed by Dissing + Weitling, the lane sits one story above the ground and is four metres wide, meaning that a huge volume of cyclists can use it comfortably.

Opened in 2014, the 720-foot-long bridge was built for just over 4 million euros, connecting the Brygge Bridge with Dybbølsbro and Vesterbro. 

According to the cycling embassy of Denmark, an economic analysis shows that the bike-only path has a total economic benefit of €5.9 million. But that’s not all, it’s also saved cyclists a significant amount of time, has made the area below for pedestrians safer, and has created a visual spectacle in the harbour of the world’s cycling capital.

Tunnel de la Croix-Rousse, Lyon, France. Photo by Renaud Confavreux on Unsplash
Tunnel de la Croix-Rousse, Lyon, France. Photo by Renaud Confavreux on Unsplash

2. Croix Rousse Tunnel, Lyon

The tunnel de La Croix Rousse in Lyon was originally referred to as a road tunnel built for car traffic in 1952. But in 2013, something amazing happened.

A sustainable transport tunnel was built alongside the other, where pedestrians, bikes, and buses could have a safe route to cross between the Saône and Rhône rivers.

Known as “Le Tube,” it’s reportedly the world’s first eco-tunnel, where sustainable forms of transport share the underground space.

Overseen by Vinci Construction, the project was built to the tune of €282 million. Spanning 2 kilometers, the tunnel walls are also adorned with dynamic, holographic projections which can vary from “abstract art to a virtual garden”, according to The Local

The shifting art installation has become something of a tourist attraction but provides important relief for what could potentially be a colostrophic space for slowing moving foot and pedal traffic. It certainly isn’t cheap, but what is the cost of a sustainable future?

Baana. (2022, November 14). In Wikipedia.
Baana. (2022, November 14). In Wikipedia.

3. Baana, Helsinki

Rapidly climbing rankings as one of the most bike-friendly cities in Europe, Helsinki is no stranger when it comes to urban innovations for two wheels.

The Baana, meaning simply “rail” in colloquial Finnish, is a disused deep railway cutting that’s been converted into a space for cyclists and pedestrians to travel away from the busy roads of the centre. In essence, it’s a ravine that’s 1.5km long and 7 metres deep. 

Incorporating landscaped areas and various sports facilities such as a basketball court and table tennis tables, the track also maintains the essence of the original rail landscape, with tunnels and the original walls still intact. It’s a striking marriage of old and new.

A relatively modest project for this list, the Baana cost just €5 million. What was initially a temporary project has since proved extremely popular, inspiring similar concepts across the rest of the city and beyond.

As David Bravo commented, it’s proven to be an effective balance of cost and benefit, where outdated existing infrastructure can be put to better use. Truly, that’s a sustainable success.

4. Xiamen Bicycle Skyway, Xiamen, China

From the designers of the Cykelslangen comes the breathtaking Xiamen Skyway.

Dubbed the Longest Aerial Bike Path in the World, cyclists can now ride suspended above the ground for almost five miles.

The idea was originally conceptualized by middle school students in southeastern Fuijan and has since come to fruition thanks to a collaboration with the Danish company responsible for the Cycle Snake.

Covering five major residential areas and three business centres in the city, the skyway is well connected to existing public transport spots. Sitting underneath a rapid bus transit line, it weaves through the city, serving up to 2000 bicycles at a time.

Whilst the cost remains a mystery, the so-called ‘winding viaduct’ went from planning to completion in less than a year, which is quite frankly astounding.

Serving to ease congestion and promote a sustainable form of transport, the cycleway has proved to be an enormous hit with residents looking to dodge the traffic.

5. Central Urban Loop, Singapore

In a city known for its diverse and exciting urban landscape, the Central Urban Loop provides an opportunity to experience it by bike.

Part of the expansive Park Connector Network, the CUL runs for 36 kilometres through the iconic HDB housing estates, showcasing not just the exquisite architecture but the wide variety of wildlife too.

As part of the vision of a “City in a Garden”, the CUL offers respite from urban life whilst running through and alongside it. Integrating parks and natural spaces throughout the city-state, it isn’t just a path, but a means of bringing nature into urban life.

Born out of a necessity to create accessibility to green spaces in a quickly expanding city, it’s an example of considerate, future-proof planning.

Whilst the exact costs remain unknown, the benefits are abundantly clear. Connecting iconic regional towns, to parks, and other cycle routes, it serves as a lifeline for residents and visitors alike.

Vredenburg, Utrecht. Photo by Matt Mutlu on Unsplash.
Vredenburg, Utrecht. Photo by Matt Mutlu on Unsplash.

6. Vredenburg, Utrecht

An excellent bike lane doesn’t always have to have the latest technologies. Sometimes, simple is best.

The Vredenburg in Utrecht, a city known for its progressive approach to transport, is the busiest cycling route in the Netherlands, and one of the busiest of its kind in the world. According to Momentum, the cycleway is used by an incredible 33,000 cyclists daily travelling in both directions.

With a cycling love affair dating back to the 1970s, Utrecht is a brilliant testament to what can be achieved with good planning, design, and motivation.  Buses, pedestrians, and cyclists weave seamlessly amongst each other, moving with ease through Utrecht’s main shopping district. 

According to Bloomberg and the Times, the city spends an average of $55 million annually on building, maintaining, and improving bike facilities and infrastructure. In fact, the central station, which is served by the route, boasts the world’s largest bike parking garage! 

The bike lane is incredible to see from an aerial standpoint, taking people-watching to another level. It’s truly remarkable to see the wheels turn in a city.

And that’s what a good bike lane does. Sometimes, it’s an astounding architectural achievement that’s futuristic and ambitious in its scope, and other times, it’s a quieter, stripped-back version that just does its job of getting people where they need to go. Either way, they’re a sort of magic.

Share the 🚲 Love

Discerning Cyclist Store

Visit the Discerning Cyclist's Shop

Ride in style

Join our weeky newsletter to get early access to our latest discoveries.

Related reads