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biking indianapolisBe you leisure or business traveler, you’ve probably been here: in a new city with a day to see it.

The best way to do it? Get on a bicycle.

The Dutch, Germans and Chinese might shrug at America’s urban bicycling “revolution,” but an increasing number of U.S. cities are introducing bike share programs, carving bike-only lanes from roads and generally promoting two-wheeled transportation. There’s even a political action committee, Bikes Belong, that supports bike-friendly candidates.

I’ll steer clear from politics, but will say this: There is no more efficient, invigorating way to see a city in a day.

At a recent Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) conference in Indianapolis, I cycled the city’s $60-odd million Cultural Trail, a 7.5-mile route that took our group on a leisurely tour past museums, canals, monuments, restaurants and purpose-built art installations. Having your own bike/pedestrian lane is something of a confidence booster. I got a better feel for Indy, a compact, accessible city (if not the stuff of bucket list day dreams), in five hours than I did in the other five days I was there. It was also good to get the heart pumping after so many SunKing IPAs.

Bike Tours and Trips

The city doesn’t yet have an automated bike share program, something found in Washington D.C., Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis and Miami. This approach, however, generally places an emphasis on returning bikes to hubs within an allotted time period (or paying a surcharge). Mapping out a full-day route vis-a-vis bike hubs does require some planning. An app makes it easier.

Renting a bike for the day or a half day takes out some of the stress.

However you roll, be aware of the road rules and the reputation. The cohabitation of cars and bikes is a relatively new phenomenon in U.S. cities, and bike lanes aren’t a constant. You will have to share the road with wary drivers, and rules for cyclists vary by city. “I didn’t know” might not convince a police officer from handing out a citation.

Disclaimers aside, tell us: What’s the best city you’ve ever cycled in?

– written by Dan Askin