Did you know that May is National Bike Month and today is Bike-to-Work Day? One of our employees, Holly Prendergast, braved the hills that lead out to API headquarters in the outskirts of Austin today and wants to share her favorite API program cities with fun cycling infrastructure below.
Traveling can open your eyes to different ways of living and one thing that depresses me when returning home to the U.S. is how poorly designed our streets and cities are. As I wrestle more and more each day with the impact of climate change and how fossil fuels are damaging our environment and the quality of life of future generations, I look for how I can minimize my personal impact and offset my carbon footprint, particularly with balancing out the damage done by my plane travel. One way I achieve that is by cycling for a good portion of my day-to-day commuting.
Not only is today Bike-to-Work Day in the US, but the UN General Assembly has declared June 3rd as World Bicycle Day. Let’s talk about some API cities where you can enjoy exploring the sites by bicycle!
Bristol, UK – API STEM Internships Available!
I have written about my love of Bristol for the API blog before, and I think it offers a really cool way to spend a weekend day riding via the Bristol & Bath Railway Path. In the late 1960s, the former Midland Railway closed to passenger traffic and from 1979-1986 the rail line was converted into a paved bicycle and pedestrian path. The path itself is 13 miles long, but when you add in getting from city center to city center, your trip is about 16 miles each way.
You will ride through trees and clearings with views of rolling hills, rivers and canals. Periodically you’ll come upon old station stops, now overgrown with nature.
There are several sculptures and pieces of art that dot the path – my favorite being the Roman centurion, which marks where a Roman road had crossed millennia ago.
My recommendation is to rent a bike in Bristol, head to Bath and spend the afternoon visiting the historical Roman Baths, then head around the corner to the Thermae Bath Spa (bring your swimsuit!). For £40 (£36 on a weekday), you get two hours in the warm, mineral rich spring-fed swimming pools (one indoor, one on the rooftop), as well as hot and ice sauna rooms. While a little bit of a splurge, if you budget for it it’s a great way to soothe your muscles and relax before your ride back to Bristol. Bath also has a lot of lovely shops and restaurants — make sure to try the famous Sally Lunn Buns if you’re feeling peckish!
Barcelona, Spain – Semester, Academic Year & Summer Study Programs and Internship Programs available!
Having been a program manager for API Barcelona programs for 4 years and having led short-term customized programs there, I might be a little partial to the city but it really does have some fantastic bike infrastructure including a wide, paved path along the beachfront that is perfect for beginner riders. On my first site visit to the city with API, 7 years ago, I was fortunate enough to join our semester students on a bike tour, which was my first introduction to the city’s bikeways.
Last summer I joined Critical Mass/Masa Crítica Barcelona on their monthly ride, where several hundred cyclists take over the streets to claim the rights of cyclists and promote sustainable city models. We crept along at a slow pace, accessible to all rider levels, and it was a festive night with music playing from speakers attached to bikes and lots of smiles and waves from pedestrians out enjoying their evening.
Just a few blocks north of the API Barcelona office is the Bicioci Bike Café where you can enjoy coffee, food, meet other cyclists and find out about other group rides in the city. The staff gave me some great recommendations when I spent a month in BCN last summer.
Dublin, Ireland – Semester, Academic Year, and Summer Study Programs, Internship Programs, and High School STEM Summer Programs Available!
Dublin offers a wide variety of bike opportunities for beginning through advanced cyclists. The 350 acre Phoenix Park (the largest enclosed public park in any capital city in Europe!) offers 14km of flat, trails perfect for beginners – but watch out for deer! The park is home to ~450 fallow deer residents who have lived there since the 7th century! It’s recommended to keep a bit of distance between you and any member of the herd – they are still wild animals after all. Just inside the main gate at Parkgate Street is a bike rental facility.
For more advanced, technical riding, head out to Glencullen Adventure Park south of the city for mountain biking challenges.
This summer I’m heading to Dublin for a bit and am excited to try out the Clontarf to Howth route, which hugs the coastline on the northside of Dublin Bay and recently received some needed upgrades including better segregation from vehicle traffic.
Quito, Ecuador – Semester and Academic Year Study Programs
Santiago, Chile – Semester, Academic Year, and January Study Programs and Internship Programs
One thing that often keeps people from cycling is a fear of being hit by a vehicle. Several cities in Latin America have made the commitment to the health and safety of their citizens by closing down main thoroughfares in the city to car traffic every Sunday to allow cyclists (and roller skaters, skateboarders, etc) use of the streets. It’s a great way to interact with local people and practice your Spanish!
In Quito, it’s called Ciclopaseo and runs every Sunday from 8am-2pm with 30km of streets to explore!
In Santiago, it’s CicloRecreoVía and runs every Sunday from 9am-2pm with about 40,000 people in attendance!