Seven Cities With Child Friendly Cycle Routes for Family Cycling

Seven Cities With Child Friendly Cycle Routes for Family Cycling

I’m sure you have seen the rental bikes that have cropped up all over the world’s major cities that let you rent a bike for a short term spin around the city.  The main downside with these bike hires is that you are not entirely sure if the numbers you need will be at the place that you want when you go to hire them. If you are travelling with a family, then you are better off using a city bike rental such as Donkey Republic to make sure your plans to cycle the city don’t get waylaid.  I’ve put together this list of seven cities with child friendly cycle routes for family cycling from my own experience.

city bike rental for families

When everyone decides to rent a bike when you want to rent as well.

We love to cycle as a family but I am also a nervous mother.  I think my children have more faith in their cycling expertise than I do. My daughter absolutely, positively refused to get on a bicycle until she was 8 years old no matter how much begging the rest of us did. She wouldn’t even get on a tandem bicycle or use a trailer. Once we stopped harassing her, she learned to ride a bike on her own accord and now she loves it. Go figure.

 7 cities with child friendly cycle paths for family cycling

7 major cities with child-friendly cycle paths for urban exploring

7 Cities With Perfect Child Friendly Cycle Routes

What makes these cities perfect for family cycling? Probably the fact that for the most part, they have a large urban park in the middle of the city for easy traffic-free cycling. When you have mixed ability cyclists, a dedicated cycle path is the best option to avoid vacation mishaps. Although both my kids love cycling now, they are not only easily distracted by their environment but also like competing with each other. I’d prefer not to test out our travel insurance on holiday.

Family Cycle in Barcelona

City bike rental in Barcelona is pretty easy for families.  I would choose to explore the 70 acres of the Parc de la Ciutadella on a bike. When we went to Barcelona, we did not hire bikes because our children had not yet learned to ride bikes.  We did not see anywhere near enough of the park’s many attractions (including a winter garden, the Barcelona zoo, waterfalls and even the Parliament of Catalonia) because we were limited to strolling. It is definitely on our must-do list for next time.

Barcelona a city with child friendly cycle routes for family cycling

A cycle through the Parc de la Ciutadella

In addition, the bike path along the beach is perfect for a family cycle ride. The path is flat, straight and lined with snack vendors and play opportunities.

Family Cycle in Madrid

Likewise in Madrid, the Buen Retiro park takes up 350 acres near the Prado Museum. Renting a cycle is the best way to see all of its attractions, including the lake, art galleries and gardens.

 7 cities with child friendly cycle paths for family cycling

Bikes in the park in Madrid

Family Cycle in London

London has a great cyclepaths in its Royal Parks in the centre of the city.  Hyde Park (350 acres) is connected to the smaller (47 acres) and St. James’s Park (57 acres).  Although at a busy intersection, the route from Hyde Park into Green Park is regulated by a traffic signal to control the heavy pedestrian/cyclist crossing.

 7 cities with child friendly cycle paths for family cycling

A bike ride through Hyde Park in London

We had no problems when we did a cycle ride through these parks. On your ride, you will pass the Serpentine, Kensington Palace and have a postcard perfect view of Buckingham Palace surrounded by gardens from a bridge in St. James’s Park.

Family Cycle in Berlin

The Tiergarten in Berlin is set on over 500 acres of parkland in the centre of Berlin. You can explore lots of statues and memorials along its 14 miles of pathways. The paths are wide and flat thanks to the near-leveling of the city by Allied troops after World War II.  They destroyed much in their wake and some of the statues still bullet holes in them which makes for a different game of “seek and find.”

 7 cities with child friendly cycle paths for family cycling

Bikes chained along the river Spree in Berlin

Family Cycle in Vienna

In Vienna, we cycled through the park that surrounded the oldest amusement park in Europe, the Prater.  Frankly, it was also an exercise in economy because renting bikes is much cheaper than to constantly keep shelling out Euros for each ride that would last only a few minutes. You pay for each ride individually at the amusement park and that can really add up. Surrounding the amusement park are hundreds of acres of parkland most of it very flat and easy to cycle.

 a city with child friendly cycle routes for family cycling

A bike route in Vienna is shared with pedestrians.

Family Cycle in Irvine

Cycling in the planned city of Irvine in Southern California is a joy. The city encourages cycling and provides hundreds of miles of on and off-street parking.  With so many dedicated cycle routes, I actually even let my children cycle outside of a traffic-free park!  If you are more comfortable in a park, then check out the hundreds of acres that make up Orange County Great Park in Irvine.

 7 cities with child friendly cycle paths for family cycling

My daughter liked to cycle the flat bits of Irvine whereas my son took the hills as a challenge.

Family Cycle in Manhattan

In Manhattan, Central Park is the place to take your family for a bike ride. Even though the city has provided more dedicated cyclepaths, Central Park is still your best bet with children on a family cycle ride. Central Park covers almost 800 acres and includes a Zoo, numerous playgrounds and a reservoir.  You will pass the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim if you would like to take a break. There are lots of vendors around where you can stop and get drinks.  You should know though that once you start the bike loop, you are stuck going all the way around it.  There are no shortcuts but there are some steep hills.

cycle paths in London

Biking through Central Park is a fun and safe activity for the whole family.

Good to Know When Cycling With the Family

Other family-friendly cycling cities that I have been recommended to me are San Diego in California and Nice in France. Everyone cycles in Amsterdam it seems but I would have reservations letting my children cycle in the city. You are sharing the road with cars, taxis, expert cyclists, trams etc.  I would think that family cycling in Amsterdam was best with older children.

My husband received a copy of Lonely Planet’s [easyazon_link identifier=”1760340839″ locale=”US” tag=”jg20-20″]Epic Bike Rides of the World[/easyazon_link] as a Christmas gift. He and the rest of the family were pretty enthralled with the book. Although this book has epic rides as suggested by the title, it also suggests shorter and easier family-friendly cycle routes.

Do you have any other cities that you can recommend that have family-friendly cycling routes?  I would love to add to this list.

This article has been done in collaboration with Donkey Republic.  As ever, all opinions remain my own. It also contains affiliate links about which more can be read at the Disclosure Policy and is linked up with Monday Escapes.

From Sea to Shining Sea

From Sea to Shining Sea

The Shining Sea Bikeway is a cycle path on Upper Cape Cod.  The bikeway runs from the fishing village of Woods Hole to the village of North Falmouth for a little over 10 miles following the path of now-defunct rail trail.  It’s an easy and scenic bike path which my 8 year old son was able to cycle easily.  People cycle, run and walk along the path.

shining sea beach path

The path is named after Katherine Lee Bates, Falmouth’s most famous 19th century resident who wrote the song America the Beautiful, one of the most popular patriotic songs in the USA.

shining sea bikeway

In fact, at various times in history, people have lobbied to replace the Star Spangled Banner with American the Beautiful as the national anthem.  Proponents of Bates’ song think its easier to sing and less war-mongering than The Star Spangled Banner.  The name for the bike path comes from a line in the song.

O beautiful for spacious skies, 

For amber waves of grain, 

For purple mountain majesties,

Above the fruited plain!

America! America!

God shed his grace on thee

And crown thy good with brotherhood 

From sea to shining sea!

The trail goes through woods, beaches, farms, ponds, salt marshes, cranberry bogs and the village of Falmouth.  This map shows the complete trail for the Shining Sea Bikeway.  There is lots of wildlife along the way – mostly birds or the occasional foxes, wild turkey or deer.

shining sea bike path

The village of Falmouth is a slight detour of the bike path but well worth a pit stop.  It’s a charming New England town with the usual church steeples, boutiques and restaurants.

The 8 Cousins bookshop has a terrific children’s section.  It’s unusual that its primarily a children’s book store and the adult section is just a companion to the children’s books.  Ben & Bills Chocolate Emporium has giant ice-cream cones.  A child size portion is actually close to a normal-size cone in another venue.

ben and bills chocolate emporium

The well-kept colonial house which was the birthplace of Katherine Lee Bates is prominently marked.

katherine lee bates home

Birthplace of Katherine Lee Bates

In the summer you may find a farmer’s market in a park off Main Street.

farmer's market

I would definitely recommend this bike path as a nice family activity to do in Upper Cape Cod.  You pass through a snapshot of what makes Cape Cod really special and quintessential New England.  Have you been to Cape Cod?  What did you think?