Are you looking for a way to get in some extra cycling or walking this summer while you are on vacation? In addition to parks; there are many green spots in cities that hide behind the buildings you zoom past. For example, travelers to San Francisco's Blue Bottle Café in Linden Alley relax after bike rides in an elegant place where garbage once piled up.
Throughout America, other cities are also cleaning up their alleys for breathtaking bike ride destinations. Although you may not be able to ride your bike through all of them, they are certainly great places to cycle to while you are traveling.
Alley bike routes difficult to find online
When you search online to find the best cities with garden-like alleys to walk or cycle to, they can be difficult to find. There are many references to the Back Alley Bike franchise in several cities of America, but specific information about a broad range of alley-specific bike tours or maps is not common.
In order to keep up with this type of information, certain keywords are more effective than others. In particular, the terms green alley program, green alley project, or alley project produced most of the results found in this article. Including these words plus the name of the city your are traveling to also helps you find these amazing urban alleys.
Why are cities making alleys for biking?
It might surprise you to know that making city alleys into bike friendly gardens is a great way promote healthy-living initiatives - and control storm water. Called rainscaping, a good example is the city of Chicago's focus on making permeable places for rainwater in the city to rest. Los Angeles, San Francisco, Richmond, W. VA, and Dubuque, Iowa are also fully aware of the rainscaping beautification benefits in their alleys.
The idea is that, during downpours and storms, it taxes a city's sewers - costing thousands to millions of dollars per storm. An easy solution is to re-create alleys in a way that allows a place for the water to be absorbed. Los Angeles also uses alley renovations to focus on cooling down the city's heat islands by changing the color of pavement in alleys to anything but black, heat-absorbing asphalt.
Altogether, this means that a wonderful place to ride your bike to is sometimes a side-benefit of eco-friendly ways to save on a city's utilities maintenance.
Must-see bike friendly alleys in America
Across America, having at least one urban garden to bike to is becoming commonplace. Forerunners of these ideals are places like the aforementioned Chicago, Los Angeles, Toronto, and Seattle. However, do not over look the smaller cities that have alley and bike initiatives such as Montgomery, Ala., Richmond, VA, and Sacramento.
On the other hand, some places with large bike and alley programs that you might not expect are the Original Highlands in Louisville, Kent., and Downtown Fort Collins, Colo. In other words, always check online for gems like these when you are traveling to a new city and expect to be pleasantly surprised. Adding to this, local bike shops in most small towns have rental bikes for tourists.
Creating cycling destinations in your city
Do you want to improve your city's alleys to the point that they become part of local tourism? The Center for New Urbanism (CNU.org) recently released a document based on their efforts with projects like turning alleys into walking and cycling destinations. Titled, "Sustainable Streets Network Principles," it is a handbook for citizens that want to work with local government to turn alley garden dreams into reality.
Perhaps your community is not ready for a multi-million dollar alley renovation, but some cities are taking smaller financial steps. Projects like the Sumner Mainstreet Alley Project in Issaquah, Wash., are a good example of what a small budget and volunteers can do.
Other park-like biking destinations
Do you still need more places to bike to on vacation that are a little less busy than a park? Depending on the local customs and laws, there are many old cemeteries throughout America that are welcoming to tourists on bikes. Good examples are the enclosed grave tombs in New Orleans or the park-like atmosphere (and final resting place of Colonel Sanders, founder of KFC) at Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville, Kent.More from this Contributor:
Maryam Louise is life-long participant of summer sports and recreation through her experiences living next to Lake Barkley on Land Between the Lakes in Western Kentucky. In her lifetime, she has also traveled to many of the world's nature reserves and parks in Iran, Switzerland, Yemen, Mexico, France, Germany, Canada, and the United States.