How to Get Around a Big City When You’re Visiting
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  • Post published:13/07/2021
  • Post last modified:13/07/2021

Visiting a big city can be one of the most exciting vacations to take. Big cities have an energy about them that can be enticingly captivating. There’s so much to see and do. Between the various attractions to see during the day and the night life, there is something for pretty much everyone to enjoy. Of course, your ability to enjoy it is dependent on your ability to get around. There are lots of ways you can get around in a city, though some will work better for you than others, depending on your preference.

Take a Bus

Big cities tend to pack a lot into a relatively small amount of space. Real estate is limited, which makes it something of a premium. This is why these metropolitan areas tend to grow vertically. As a result, according to Streetsblog USA, there are some big cities with good public transportation systems. Well-developed bus routes help relieve the need to drive personal vehicles within the city. This alleviates traffic congestion and the need for parking in the busiest parts of the city.

Buses tend to make frequent stops along their routes, which can be really handy if you’re stopping in multiple places or not going long distances. Because they’re on city streets, they’re also vulnerable to getting stuck in traffic. If you are trying to cover a lot of ground quickly, a bus may not be the most efficient way to get around. Keep in mind that buses will be busiest around meal times and during rush hour. You’ll likely find that these times result in a standing room only situation onboard. Find a handhold and hang on tight. You and everyone else will end up bracing every time the bus speeds up or slows down. If you find yourself on a bus that’s getting fuller with every stop, consider offering your seat if you are able. It’s generally considered the polite thing to do to offer your seat to the elderly, parents with children, or handicapped individuals.

Walk

If you really want to get to know a city, walking is one of the best ways to get around. It’s probably the slowest way to get from point A to point B, but that just gives you a chance to take in everything around you. Plus, according to the Arthritis Foundation, walking is beneficial to your health. A lot of people find they struggle to stay physically active when they are away from home. If you plan to walk to your destinations within the city, that won’t be something you need to worry about. As an added bonus, walking doesn’t cost you a penny, making it the least expensive way to get around.

There are some considerations to keep in mind if you choose to walk around a big city. Because it takes longer to get places, you may be tempted to take shortcuts. That’s not usually a good idea, especially if you aren’t familiar with the city. You’re more likely to wind up lost, and could find yourself in a bad part of town. Avoid the temptation to jaywalk across streets to try to get to your destination faster. It’s illegal pretty much anywhere you go. It’s also a good idea to keep an eye on the weather.

The weather can also put a damper on your experience walking around a big city. Wind can be impressively cutting as it blows between buildings, making cold conditions feel even colder. That doesn’t have to stop you from walking though. Make sure you dress for the weather and you should be just fine, if that’s what you decide to do.

Bike

Did you know you can rent bikes in big cities and use them to get around? According to the World Property Journal, there are some pretty bike-friendly cities where you can fairly easily get from place to place by using a bike during your visit. The presence of bike lanes both on and off the streets are a huge plus for cyclists. These designated lanes help keep motorists and cyclists alike safer on the roads, and prevent them from crowding one another.

Rules of the road regarding bicycles will vary from state to state. As a result, it’s important that you familiarize yourself with the relevant laws regarding bike riding before you start riding around. Some states require you to wear a bicycle helmet, while others don’t mandate this in their laws. There will likely be laws governing whether or not you are allowed to bike on sidewalks. Whether or not your bike has lights on it may also be regulated. You will be held responsible for knowing these laws if you choose to get around via bicycle, regardless of the fact that you’re visiting from out of town. These rules are designed to keep you and others safe, so make sure you know them and follow them.

Take a Taxi

Sometimes a car is the best way to get around, despite the traffic you are likely to encounter in a big city. If you need a car but don’t want to deal with the hassle of parking, taking a taxi is a classic option for getting around that many people still utilize today. They can be especially convenient if you’re tired or don’t quite know how to get to where you’re trying to go. Taxi drivers make a living driving people all over the city. It’s literally their job to know how to get from point A to point B. According to Free Tours by Foot, hailing a taxi can be tough if you’re trying to get one at shift change or peak volume times. A little planning ahead of time can be helpful. Like buses, taxis are subject to road traffic, so they may not get you to your destination as quickly as you thought if traffic is bad.

They can also get pretty expensive very quickly. To avoid being overcharged, make sure the meter is running at the start of your ride. If you think there’s a better way to get where you’re going, don’t be afraid to speak up.

Ride a Scooter

So you want to be able to enjoy the scenery as you go from place to place and feel the wind on your face, but you want to get there faster than you would by walking and without the effort of walking or biking. Renting an electric scooter to cruise around the city can be a fun way to go. Scooter rentals are one of the latest transportation trends going around, and a lot of cities have scooter rental companies that are starting to make them available. You rent the scooter through an app, pick it up, cruise around, and then drop it back off when your rental is up.

Using a scooter to get around is relatively affordable and environmentally friendly, not to mention faster than just walking. They help improve micro mobility and address the last-mile problem that can crop up with public transportation. There are some downsides to using scooters for transportation though. According to Arcimoto, scooters are riskier and can’t be used on the highway. Their relatively high speeds and low center of gravity can make them dangerous, especially around pedestrians. If not returned and parked correctly, they can block the flow of traffic as well.

Rent a Car

Depending on where you’re staying and what your plans are, you may find it beneficial to rent a car to get around. Getting around in a car typically works best if you aren’t going to spend a lot of time in the city, especially in the busy downtown portions of it. That isn’t to say you can’t drive a car in those parts of the city. You’ll just need to manage your expectations appropriately. Driving in a big city can be an exercise in patience. You’ll personally have to deal with the traffic and foot the bill for parking, all while navigating in a foreign place.

Rent a Motorcycle

Between scooters, bicycles, and cars, it seems you can rent nearly any form of transportation to get around. As it turns out, that includes motorcycles. If you’re a biker, but you didn’t bike into town, you may be able to rent one on arrival. Motorcycles offer greater mobility over cars, and can be a lot easier to park thanks to their compact size. They tend to have much better fuel economy as well.

As with bicycles, it’s important to know the laws regarding their use before you get going. For example, California allows motorcyclists to bypass slow or stopped lanes of traffic in a process called lane-splitting. Currently, California is the only state to officially allow this, so it’s best to not try it in other states.

Get familiar with the helmet laws where you’ll be riding as well. According to Road Racerz, only three states (Illinois, Iowa, and New Hampshire) don’t have any laws regulating helmet use. A handful of states mandate the use of helmets for all. The rest have various age limits in place that require anyone below the set age to wear a helmet. If you choose not to, there may be health insurance requirements you’ll need to comply with to be within the bounds of the law. As a biker, you’ll be more exposed to the elements and at greater risk of injury in the event of an accident. Wearing appropriate biking clothes will help protect you from greater degrees of injury.

Hop on the Subway

Subway systems are one of the most efficient ways to get around a big city. They aren’t subject to above-ground traffic, though they can become quite crowded. They make regular stops, but not as frequently as buses. Thanks to these two factors, you can cover a lot more ground a lot more quickly. New York City’s extensive subway system is an excellent example of how well the subway can get you to and from places. New York City’s subway system runs around the clock, so it can get you places at any time of day or night.

According to Mobility Lab, thanks to various transportation apps, it’s easier than ever to figure out what line to use and how to get to where you’re going. You might be a little concerned about the safety of using the subway, but as long as you’re smart about it you don’t need to worry. There are multiple transit cops who are constantly working to keep the subways safe.

Lyft and Uber

For visitors who want to use a car to get around, don’t want to drive themselves, and don’t want to deal with exorbitant taxi fares, rideshare services like Lyft and Uber are the way to go. Both of these companies are available through their respective apps. They tend to be more affordable than your typical taxi, but surge pricing can cause you to pay more than you might expect. There are things you can do to avoid surge pricing. They just require a little forethought and a touch more planning.

Plan Ahead

If you’re going to have an enjoyable trip, it’s important to plan out your transportation in the city just like any other aspect of your trip. You’ll need to figure out which modes of transportation will be best for your destination and what your preferences are out of those options. According to Solo Traveler, you should know how to travel safely in the city you’ll be visiting. Make sure you include your transportation expenses in your travel budget. It doesn’t hurt to include a bit extra just to cover unexpected costs that may come up. Once you’ve made your decision to visit a big city, there are some logistics you’ll need to figure out.

Apart from food and lodgings, one of the most important things you need to plan for is how to get around. Whether you take advantage of the city’s public transportation system or rent a mode of transportation, you’ll need to take into consideration any unique aspects of the city you’ll be visiting in addition to your personal preferences. Not all modes of transportation work equally well in every city. Brush up on how to travel safely where you’re going so you’re able to have the best possible experience visiting a big city.

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