Ask any local and they’ll have an opinion on cycling in Riga. There are violent pedestrians who push cyclists off pavements, drivers who toot their horns dare a cyclist cross their path, and daredevil cyclists weaving their way through rush hour traffic without a helmet. There are also the pacifist cyclists, pedestrians and drivers who dream of a harmonious traffic flow.
Of course, everyone feels like a bit of an expert in city planning. But it’s not like the city council is ignoring the demand for an organised infrastructure. It’s just that there’s a long way to go until Riga can call itself a truly bike-friendly city.
In the meantime, if you don’t mind dodging the odd pothole, waving the odd middle finger at rude drivers or screeching for old biddies to get out of your way, the city’s actually fun to explore by bike and we’d encourage you to try cycling in Riga! Here are some routes we like to take at weekends.
Āgenskalns and Mārupīte
Make your way to Āgenskalns Market. From there, head along Mārupes iela until you reach Māras dīķis (a pond with surrounding park), which is where the river Mārupīte begins its journey. You’ll find a cycle path runs along its forested shores. Beautiful green corner of the city.
To shorten the distance from the centre and avoid a pretty horrible stretch for cycling in Riga, get tram 5 down to Sarkandaugava or take a train to Mangaļi. From there it’s a fascinating cycle through the port area and residential suburb of Vecmilgrāvis, past the woods and across the Vecdaugava river before arriving to the pier. The beach is wonderful for picnics. Bus 24 will take you and your bike back into town if tired, just avoid rush hour.
Start from the top of Miera iela and make your way straight down to the Mežaparks forest park. Take your time to explore the side streets of the Mežaparks suburb with their incredible old villas and fancy new builds. Once at the park, turn wherever you feel like and enjoy the incredible fact that Riga has inner city forests!
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Photo: Krists Luhaers