Cross-posted from Sightline Daily.

In the Seattle suburb where I grew up, the main transportation choice most residents face is what kind of car to buy. I moved to the city after college and, inspired by the “car-lite” lifestyles of several friends, decided to give cycling a try.

I fell in love with it. Urban cycling freed me from slow buses, parking meters, and mind-numbing elliptical machines. I arrived at work with more energy. I lost weight. I discovered charming neighborhood restaurants. I could smell fresh laundry and dinners in the oven while I pedaled home through residential streets. Getting from A to B on my bike became the best part of my day.

Recently, I won a fellowship and got to spend six months living life on two wheels in the world’s most bike-friendly cities. I brought home 10 lessons for us here in the States:

A bike lane in Denmark. (Photo by Christine Grant.)

1. It’s the infrastructure, stupid!

Amazing infrastructure makes cycling normal and safe in bike meccas. For example, parked cars to the left of the bike lane not only provide a barrier between motorized traffic and cyclists, they also minimize a cyclist’s chance of getting “doored.” Most cars only have one occupant, the driver, and drivers get out on the left.