As Easy as Riding a Bicike(lj)

Ljubljana is easily the most walkable city in which I’ve lived. We can usually be found strolling the entire length of the downtown and back multiple times each week, in search of the best gelato, on a trip to feed the nutria inhabiting the river, or simply because we can. (Suck it, Tegucigalpa.)

But if you’re in a race against ridiculous European store hours or a sudden rainstorm, you can always turn to Bicike(lj), the public bike rental system.  “Rental” is almost a stretch; the bikes are free for the first hour, so we’ve yet to pay a dime beyond the whopping 3 euro membership fee. Leave it to a magical city like Ljubljana, replete with bus routes and beautifully maintained pedestrian zones, to make it easy to get around by bike, as well.

Nowadays we can usually be found weaving through pedestrians and puddles on the back of these sweet bikes:

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As if living in the heart of the historical district could be any more convenient, our balcony literally overlooks one of the city’s 38 bike stations.. It’s as simple as tapping our Urbana cards to the screen, picking a bike, and peddling away. The bikes can be returned to any station throughout the city; with locations every 300-500 meters downtown, you’re never very far from the next one.

For anyone living in Ljubljana without a personal bike, it’s a must. Visit the Tourism Office right by the Triple Bridge downtown and buy an Urbana card for 2 euro. (Pro tip: if you’re only in town for a few days, keep the receipt – you can return the card with the original receipt and get your money back!) Then subscribe on the Bicikelj website for 3 euros/year, choose a pin to protect your card if it’s lost, and you’re ready to ride.

Ljubljana was named the European Green Capital in 2016 for a reason (or, really, for many, many good reasons, of which biking is just one). Biking is encouraged through this affordable and reliable rental system, but also through a network of urban bike lanes and rural bike paths, strict laws protecting the right of way, and a plethora of bike racks throughout the city.

The abundance of bikes is just one contributing factor this city’s enchanting lifestyle. I still prefer enjoying Ljubljana by foot; it’s the best way to stumble upon a new alley or peek into an intriguing storefront. But biking has given us access to new places, as well as new perspectives on old favorites. As some say, you can’t buy happiness, but you can buy rent a bike, and that’s pretty close.

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