Who needs a car? Well… depending on where you live you may need one. If you can survive without one you save gas, insurance, maintenance, and the environment. I’ve only recently experienced life again without a car. Riding my bike once again in my hometown has reminded me of how hot this city really can get, and how much I miss having the convenience of owning a car. While living in Europe it wasn’t such a big deal. Ample and abundant sources of public transportation and cheap fares made living car-less quite simple.
Many of the cities in Europe have their own bike culture. In some areas bicycles rule the road. One city in particular that sticks out in my mind is Amsterdam. It was there I first saw the wonderfully marked and paved bike paths complete with bike stoplight.
There was also an abundance of bike parking lots. It should also be noted that the amount of bikes stolen in Amsterdam is more than 5000 per year. That is the reason you will see many rusty, prehistoric, hence unattractive to the common thief, bikes around.
I was always amazed by the hundreds of bikes filling a parking lot that would normally be devoted to cars. I found that the bicycle was a wonderful way to travel like the locals and to experience Amsterdam at it’s finest. The gorgeous architecture, beautiful parks with their gorgeous water features, and historic sites such as Anne Franks’ House. If you ever find yourself in Amsterdam be sure and take a bike tour. I found it’s one of the best ways to fully experience the sights. I would highly recommend Mike’s Bike Tours. He did an excellent and informative tour of the city.
Europe has many other cities known for their bike population, but Amsterdam still rules them all. I’m sure Germany is running for the number two spot in Europe with its college town of Münster. It’s known as the bicycle capital of Germany.
All in all not owning a car has its pros and cons. I can surely say I’m glad that it doesn’t snow here in the winter! My only wish is that we could somehow have the same awesome train system or at least the same level of respect for bicyclists on the road as in Europe. Just remember that if you’re ever in Amsterdam, or anywhere in Europe, ditch the car for a bit and explore your favorite locations by bike. I think you will find that the new discoveries are endless.