Urban Biking

Damon Miller
If there's a barometer of the rise of urban cycling, it's the proliferation of bike-share programs. Just ask Alison Cohen, president of Alta Bicycle Share, which is opening New York's 10,000-bike system this summer. ''Right now most New Yorkers think, 'Should I take the subway? Should I take a cab? Should I walk?' '' Cohen says. ''We want to make cycling the fourth option.'' It's already an option in Milan, home to the designer Marta Ferri, pictured here on one of the elegant bikes from that city's program and in clothes from her namesake label. For two and a half euros, visitors can buy a daily subscription to Milan's BikeMi program on its Web site, where a station map locates available bicycles and parking spots, updated in real time. Milan is flush with bike shops as well. Ferri recommends Rossignoli, for a selection of traditional Italian bikes, and Turbolento, for an expert tuneup. She also suggests cruising the bike lane that surrounds the 95-acre Parco Sempione. ''Don't forget to explore narrow streets and alleys for glimpses of private gardens,'' Ferris adds. ''Milan is a secret city. Most of her beauty is hidden.''