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Welcome to The Cycle Pretty Tourist Blog! With Bea Gonzalez...

Updated: Mar 21

Welcome to the Cycle Pretty Tourist Blog! I’m Bea, and I joined the lovely Blooms & Bicycles team last year. You may have seen me in their Instagram posts and blog pictures here... 

As I sometimes travel to other countries to visit friends or family, Ashleigh suggested that I start this Cycle Pretty Tourist blog. The aim is to inspire people to explore new places by bicycle during their holiday getaways, whilst stopping to appreciate the beauty of any flowers and plants discovered in places like the local parks and markets, along with sharing our passion for cycling with style!

But before we embark on this adventure, I wanted to introduce you to the term ‘cycling tourism’. According to the UK charity ‘Sustrans’, which created the National Cycle Network*, cycling tourism ‘involves recreational visits, either overnight or day visits away from home, which involve leisure cycling as a fundamental and significant part of the visit’.

Not only does cycling make traveling more enjoyable, but it also offers numerous benefits...

  1. It is one of the most environmentally friendly ways to explore a city, as it doesn’t produce pollution, helps reduce traffic congestion, and has minimal impact on host communities.

2. Cycling allows you to reach destinations more quickly by avoiding traffic, or traveling through rural areas that are accessible to cyclists.

3. It provides many health benefits. Cycling is an excellent form of exercise that improves strength, posture, balance, and coordination. Moreover, it is a low-impact activity, making it gentle on the joints. Additionally, it’s scientifically proven to contribute to brain health.

4. It is more cost-effective than renting a car and usually cheaper than public transport too. In many cities, bike rental services are available, such as the Bee Network in Manchester and the Veloblue in Nice, France which I used during a recent visit (watch this space for a blog on this being posted soon!)

5. You can encourage others to cycle. Your actions can spark curiosity and interest in cycling among those who witness you pedalling through the streets!

6. Another great benefit is meeting fellow cyclists! The cycling community is known for being very welcoming, and regardless of your skill level, you'll find support among riders.

I hope you now feel inspired to plan your next holiday with cycling in mind. So to help, here's...

Three Important Factors to Consider During Your Bicycle Travels...

1. Choose your destination! Cycling tourism is gaining popularity in Europe, as governments are actively improving cycling infrastructure, including creating bike lanes and having car-free zones in city centres...

2. If you want to go abroad, Europe offers excellent options accessible by train or plane. Popular destinations include Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands, known for their safe and convenient cycling routes. In many cities you can go on a cycle tour. They provide an enjoyable way to visit a city, learn about its history, and discover all the fun facts...

3. If you're new to this and prefer to stay in the UK, you have many options, as this country is very varied! Opting for a city? Choose from cycle-friendly cities like Bristol, London, or Manchester. If you prefer the countryside, you can explore the Lake districts or Snowdonia National park. Stay tuned as we will be launching our very own touristic Cycle Pretty tour very soon!

Once you have chosen your destination, it’s time to plan! So here's some tips I've compiled to help ensure your journey is both safe and enjoyable...

11 Tips For Cycling Tourism

1. Plan Your Route In Advance

Using tools like Google Maps can be helpful, but it can sometimes fail. Check if there are dedicated maps for cycling routes in the city or town you plan to visit. Familiarize yourself with the route, noting any potential detours or interesting landmarks. In case you encounter navigation challenges, having a basic understanding of the route will enable you to ask locals for directions, and maybe you can make some local friends! If you are travelling in Europe, you could check Eurovelo. This is a project of the European Cyclists' Federation (ECF), comprising a network of 17 long-distance cycle routes that cross and connect Europe.

2. Check the Country's Legislation

Different countries may have varying rules and regulations regarding cycling on roads, paths, and trails. Additionally, within a single country, there may be distinctions in regulations between rural and urban areas. You can usually find this information on Government websites or Transport department websites. For example, in the UK, you can find this information on the government website:*

Another example: in most countries it isn’t compulsory for adults to wear a helmet (in Europe, it is only compulsory in Finland), but it’s advised!

3. Do Some Research About the Traffic

Before starting your cycling journey, it’s beneficial to do some research about the traffic conditions along your planned routes. Understanding the traffic patterns and levels of congestion can help you anticipate potential challenges and plan your rides accordingly. Also, be mindful of the impact of seasonal variations on traffic flow. In busy tourist spots, there will be more cars and people around during peak seasons, so always be extra cautious. If you aren’t too comfortable cycling among cars yet, it’s better to avoid cycling during rush hours, especially in large cities. 

4. Get Familiar With The Local Language

If you're visiting a country where you don’t speak the language, it's both useful and polite to learn a few basic phrases. Taking the time to learn simple greetings, expressions for asking directions, and words for common items can enrich your experience and interactions with locals. Also, you’ll be able to understand the signs on the street!

In my experience, I find it enjoyable to learn a few words, and locals often appreciate the effort, even if my pronunciation isn’t perfect. During my recent cycling trip in Nice, France, I found that my basic knowledge of French came in handy when navigating the city's streets. If you're curious to learn more about my cycling adventure in Nice, feel free to read about it soon here:

5. Choosing Between Bicycle Rental and Public Bike-Share

When planning your cycling adventure, decide whether you'll rent a bicycle or use a public bike-sharing system. These systems typically consist of a network of docking stations located throughout a city or urban area. Users can rent bicycles from one station and return them to any other station within the network. This flexible and convenient arrangement promotes short-term bicycle rentals for both transportation and leisure activities. For example, in Manchester, the Bee Network Cycle Scheme* offers a public bike-sharing system, providing residents and visitors with accessible and eco-friendly transportation options.

If you're planning an extended stay and have a place to keep your bike, you may want to consider renting a bike for weeks or even months. Many companies typically offer this service, providing flexibility for long-term rentals.

Another option would be bringing your own bicycle, although it’s usually more expensive due to transportation costs and potential maintenance expenses. 

6. Assessing Fitness Terrain and Ride Duration

Consider your level of fitness and the journey you are going to embark on. Evaluate factors such as terrain—will there be hills to conquer?—and how long you will be riding. Understanding these aspects beforehand will help you plan appropriately and ensure an enjoyable and manageable experience.

7. Check the Weather Forecast

Seems obvious, but always check the weather forecast before heading out on your cycling adventures! Dress accordingly based on the weather conditions. If it’s raining, be sure to put on a raincoat and any other adequate protection. Consider using scarves to protect your hair from the rain under the helmet...

Also, be cautious of strong winds and storms! In colder temperatures, remember to wear gloves to keep your hands warm-especially in the snow!

Check sunset times and aim to avoid cycling at night for safety reasons. However, if you choose to cycle after dark, ensure all your bike lights are turned on for visibility and that you follow the regulations for night-time riding. (You can learn more about cycling at night on our blog post

In many European cities, cycling is so popular that people often cycle to clubs or house parties at night. I spent New Year's Eve in Antwerp, where I noticed a lot of bikes parked outside clubs and people cycling around at 5 am. If you're interested in reading more about this exciting trip, I will also be doing a blog post on this soon.

8. Be Adaptable

It’s essential to remain flexible as unexpected changes may arise. For example, a road closure or unexpected construction may require you to change your route. Similarly, certain lanes or paths may turn out to be less safe than anticipated, prompting the need for adjustments. Expect changes, and learn how to adapt to them!

9. Get Familiar With Your Bike

You don’t need to be a cycling pro, but having some knowledge about bicycles, such as how to change gears, brake, and adjust the seat and handlebars can make your trip smoother. If you're using a bike-share service, there's typically a lot of bikes available. If one happens to be broken or malfunctioning, you can easily opt for another one

10. Adjusting To Cycling On The Opposite Sides Of The Road

If you're accustomed to riding on the left in the UK, keep in mind that in the rest of Europe, traffic flows on the opposite side of the road. If you find yourself in a country where they drive on the other side, don't panic. Take some time to acquaint yourself with the roads, turning procedures, and navigating roundabouts. You'll adapt quickly with a bit of practice!

11. Take Breaks

Remember to take breaks along the way. Don't forget to bring along a bottle of water to stay hydrated throughout your journey, specially on hot days. Perhaps you can pack a snack to enjoy while pausing to admire the scenery.

I hope all these tips are helpful and you are ready to embark on your adventure! In the next few blog posts, I will share my experience cycling in Nice, France, Spain and Antwerp. So get ready for some stunning scenery and amazing stories!

*For more information on the UK's National Cycle Network and the work of Sustrans, please visit:

*For more information on UK cycling rules and regulations, please visit:

*For more information on Manchester's Bee Newtwork cycle lane infrastructure, please visit: OR 

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