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Inclined cities, impossible to cycle

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Inclined cities, impossible to cycle

Old 06-18-21, 09:18 AM
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Daniel4
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Inclined cities, impossible to cycle

Here's the background:
In videos or articles about bicycle-friendly cities, Amsterdam and Copenhagen are usually profiled amongst other less well-known ones. Inevitably, critics state that the Netherlands and Denmark are very flat countries and that a lot of US cities are too hilly.

I've been to hilly US cities like Seattle, San Francisco, and in Canada, Vancouver, Montreal and I live in Toronto. From my experience, no matter how hilly a city can be, their CBDs and main streets and markets are always on flat ground. Historically, that's where cities begin. And as they grow, they envelope the nearest hills.

So, just for fun, name as many cities from anywhere around the world, that are completely on an incline, that every road and street is either banked, slanted or climbing that it would be impossible to ride a bicycle anywhere.
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Old 06-18-21, 09:22 AM
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Duluth MN, USA is primarily built on the hill rising out of Lake Superior
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Old 06-18-21, 09:45 AM
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There must be some flat ground somewhere, but Pullman WA wasn't much fun for a kid on a bike.
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Old 06-18-21, 10:50 AM
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Originally Posted by ClydeClydeson View Post
Duluth MN, USA is primarily built on the hill rising out of Lake Superior

I haven't been there in a long time, but my memory is that you really only have to climb if you're going west from the lake. Once you're on a north-south street, they're actually pretty level, albeit at different altitudes.

I haven't been there in 30+ years, so I could be misremembering this.
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Old 06-18-21, 11:13 AM
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Almaty, Kazakhstan is entirely sloped. So much that people tend to give directions as up, down, right, left. But it's a fairly gentle incline. The reason I wouldn't ride a bike there has nothing to do with the incline.
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Old 06-18-21, 11:39 AM
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I lived in Lausanne, Switzerland for a year (about half an hour east of Geneva). The entire city is on a hillside rising up from Lake Geneva. For decades the main metro line was a rack-and-pinion railway; more recently the metro was extended further uphill and replaced with a rubber-tired system, because it's much too steep for standard steel wheels. A flat map really doesn't give you a good sense of the topography. That said, I biked everywhere there, but just going from my dorm across the city to the university was a 200m descent. Occasionally drivers would cheer for me as I was climbing the last bit on my way home.
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Old 06-18-21, 12:04 PM
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La Paz Bolivia is built in a canyon falling off the side of the Altiplano and at an elevation of about 12000 feet. If you want to ride flat terrain you can go up to El Alto at 13600 feet. Be advised that the area has historically suffered from oxygen scarcity.

Caracas is also situated in a narrow mountain valley. Oxygen is more plentiful but food is scarce.

Though these are impediments, cycling is still possible.
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Old 06-18-21, 01:49 PM
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Jerusalem, Nazareth, and Haifa all come to mind. Lots of hills with winding roads that follow the contours. You can cycle or walk them.
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Old 06-18-21, 04:46 PM
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Originally Posted by nathand View Post
Occasionally drivers would cheer for me as I was climbing the last bit on my way home.
During a cross country tour in the USA I biked over 36 mountain passes in the West. I could tell how bad the next pass would be by how many honks, thumb's-up, and cheers from motorists I would get as I approached it. Your post brought back some good memories!
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Old 06-18-21, 06:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Daniel4 View Post
Here's the background:
In videos or articles about bicycle-friendly cities, Amsterdam and Copenhagen are usually profiled amongst other less well-known ones. Inevitably, critics state that the Netherlands and Denmark are very flat countries and that a lot of US cities are too hilly.

I've been to hilly US cities like Seattle, San Francisco, and in Canada, Vancouver, Montreal and I live in Toronto. From my experience, no matter how hilly a city can be, their CBDs and main streets and markets are always on flat ground. Historically, that's where cities begin. And as they grow, they envelope the nearest hills.

So, just for fun, name as many cities from anywhere around the world, that are completely on an incline, that every road and street is either banked, slanted or climbing that it would be impossible to ride a bicycle anywhere.
Sherbrooke is very hilly.

And many years ago I visited Austria and some of the towns were literally on the side of a mountain.
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Old 06-20-21, 12:18 PM
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Denver was founded at the confluence of the South Platte River and Cherry Creek. The South Platte flows north out of the mountains and Cherry Creek flows in from the east. Denver actually sits in a low spot compared to all the ground around. The city center is a bit flat but hills quickly rise up to the east and west. Travel to the north and south are gentle downhills in the former and gentle uphills to the latter. However, everywhere you go from the city center is uphill. It’s worse to the west.

You can see the profile along Colfax Ave (US40 and longest street in the US) goes upward from the middle.



If you go north/south along Broadway (roughly the South Platte Valley), it’s uphill from the city center to the south.



If you shift over to the west a bit and go north/south it’s all hills. I hate going north/south outside of the Platte Valley because it is nothing up a series of ups and downs.



East of the Platte Valley, the climbs are less severe but there is still a lot of up and down.



If you go way north to Baseline (40th parallel), the road trends downward to the east but there are still a bunch of hills to deal with.



So, with the exception of about a 10 x 10 block area in the middle of the Valley, it’s not exactly flat here. We are built on a slope.
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Old 06-20-21, 01:00 PM
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Ive heard downtown san francisco is impossible
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Old 06-20-21, 01:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Vcr11 View Post
Ive heard downtown san francisco is impossible
Depends which part. There are plenty of leg busters in much of the city, but there are also flats.

It's not clear to me what the OP means by "impossible". Based on the comparison to cycling-friendly cities in Holland, etc., is the point that cycling could never be as important to overalll civilian transit (commuting, shopping, etc.) in S.F? Yes, that's true Or is the point that you just can't cycle there, period. Not true.
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Old 06-20-21, 01:26 PM
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
I haven't been there in a long time, but my memory is that you really only have to climb if you're going west from the lake. Once you're on a north-south street, they're actually pretty level, albeit at different altitudes.

I haven't been there in 30+ years, so I could be misremembering this.
I pass through duluth about once a year. It's hilly, but not impossible.
I have friends who bicycle commute there.
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Old 06-20-21, 05:45 PM
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Originally Posted by MinnMan View Post
... Or is the point that you just can't cycle there, period. Not true.
Yes, that's what I mean.

Contributors have presented many challenging cities but none are impossible to ride in as it seems the contributors have actually done it.
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Old 06-20-21, 07:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Daniel4 View Post
So, just for fun, name as many cities from anywhere around the world, that are completely on an incline, that every road and street is either banked, slanted or climbing that it would be impossible to ride a bicycle anywhere.
The whole premise of this thread is faulty, as it assumes that cyclists can't ride up and down hills.
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Old 06-21-21, 08:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
The whole premise of this thread is faulty, as it assumes that cyclists can't ride up and down hills.
While I agree that cyclist can ride up and down hills, terrain can be an important factor applying the Amsterdam and Copenhagen models elsewhere. Getting large parts of the population out of cars is harder if they have to climb hills to get to work. Local weather is another factor. I was lucky enough to have showers at my work place but, even then, I had to wake at 500 to leave at 630 to arrive by 730 to have time to shower before work at 800. It takes a lot of dedication to do that day in and day out for 40 years.
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Old 06-21-21, 08:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
The whole premise of this thread is faulty, as it assumes that cyclists can't ride up and down hills.
What you mean is that the premise of the cycling critics are faulty, as they assume cyclists can't ride up and down hills.
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Old 06-21-21, 09:22 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
While I agree that cyclist can ride up and down hills, terrain can be an important factor applying the Amsterdam and Copenhagen models elsewhere. Getting large parts of the population out of cars is harder if they have to climb hills to get to work. Local weather is another factor. I was lucky enough to have showers at my work place but, even then, I had to wake at 500 to leave at 630 to arrive by 730 to have time to shower before work at 800. It takes a lot of dedication to do that day in and day out for 40 years.
e-bikes will go a long way to reducing some of those impediments.
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Old 06-21-21, 12:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Daniel4 View Post
So, just for fun, name as many cities from anywhere around the world, that are completely on an incline, that every road and street is either banked, slanted or climbing that it would be impossible to ride a bicycle anywhere.
Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
The whole premise of this thread is faulty, as it assumes that cyclists can't ride up and down hills.
Originally Posted by Daniel4 View Post
What you mean is that the premise of the cycling critics are faulty, as they assume cyclists can't ride up and down hills.
No, I meant precisely what I wrote: the whole premise of the thread is faulty.
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Old 06-21-21, 12:47 PM
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I’ve told the story before, but on our honeymoon we went to Paris and Rome. Paris was a pretty easy city for a tourist to ride a bike in, except for the Montmartre area. The Velib bike share had areas that would pay you in credit to leave a bike uphill from where you started. But we saw very few bikes in Rome, and the bike share was a hoax.

We also visited Barcelona for one night. We didn’t spend much time but my impression was that it was full of mountain bikes- which suit the terrain.

San Francisco actually takes care of its transit systems and is also choc a bloc with ubers. There’s not much extra advantage to owning a bike.

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Old 06-21-21, 12:49 PM
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Many European cities were built on a hill as a defensible position. And, roads weren't made with cars in mind, or for that matter bicycles. So, some roads even have steps. So, it is often the city centers are at the top of the hill, and urban sprawl is in the valleys.

Many Italian coastal cities are also built into steep mountain sides.

Now that doesn't mean that all roads are straight up a mountain. Some are parallel to the mountain sides.

Let's see if I can remember a few random cities.

Orvieto. Walled city built on the top of a hill. Largely flat on top, but good climb up there.
Perugia. Again, a hilltop city with urban sprawl in the valley.
San Marino. A country around a walled hilltop city.
Cinque Terre. 5 small towns on Italian coast. Each built into its own section of hillside. Lots of steep areas around then.
La Spezia, Tellaro, etc. I didn't spend a lot of time in La Spezia, but many of the nearby towns are noted for steep hillside construction.
Bardi, Emiglia Romagna. Another hillside castle/village.

I'll have to think of some more. But, there are quite a few hilly communities in Italy. Many small.
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Old 06-21-21, 12:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
But we saw very few bikes in Rome, and the bike share was a hoax.
I rode in Rome (30 years ago). I think there were a few hills, but I don't remember it being too bad.

Traffic was pretty wild in some places. Glass everywhere. I was riding sewups at the time, and got more flats in Rome than the rest of my MegaMeter ride.
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Old 06-21-21, 12:54 PM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
I rode in Rome (30 years ago). I think there were a few hills
Seven.
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Old 06-21-21, 04:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
e-bikes will go a long way to reducing some of those impediments.
E-bikes are a flash in the pan and I doubt that they will have much impact on bicycle commuting. They sound cool and all but there are going to be a whole lot of them just draining batteries in garages in the next few years. Like most “get people out of their cars” solutions, they sound wonderful…for the other guy. I take no joy in saying that, either but in over 40 years of commuting, I’ve never been able to convince one person to ride to work on much more than a once a year basis…on Bike-to-Work Day.
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