Bike-Friendly Homes Rise in Demand as More Commuters Pedal to Work

Her bike friendly home helps Rose Barcklow live without a car.

In 21st century America, a 19th century invention -- the bicycle -- is figuring more and more in the calculations of apartment hunters and others looking for suitable digs. Bike commuting is on the rise in many cities, studies show, and as the number has grown, so has the need for bike-friendly housing.

Many apartment complexes are offering secure storage spaces for bikes. Some developers are even putting bike repair shops in apartment buildings. "I decided to live without a car, to take the leap," said 31-year-old Rose Barcklow (pictured above), who lives in a Denver apartment that gives her easy access to the bike lanes that she takes on her 7-mile commute to work.

Related: Bike-Friendly Cities' Innovative Tactics

Her apartment complex, "Solera," is very bike-friendly. Barcklow doesn't have to lug her two bikes up to her apartment because there's a secure storage area for two-wheelers, and she makes use of the "velo room" -- a tool-equipped workshop where she can pump up her tires, clean her chain and fix a flat.

Slideshow: Incredible Green Homes
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Bike-Friendly Homes Rise in Demand as More Commuters Pedal to Work

In honor of Earth Day, AOL Real Estate is revisiting some of the most eye-popping green homes around the globe. Just because you want to save the planet doesn't mean you have to live in a mud shack. (But how 'bout a coke bottle cottage?) From dazzling modern prefab homes, to sprawling eco-mansions, we explore the whole gamut of green living. Click through to see some of the world's most intriguing green homes.

Known as La Casa de Botellas, this home in Puerto Iguazu, Argentina is comprised of thousands of recyclable plastic bottles. Sure, HVAC might be a pain if the home were built in, say, Minneapolis, but given the weather in Argentina, we think the owners are just fine.

Wake up feeling effervescent and refreshed in this soda pop bottle bedroom.

The designer of the home actually created a child-sized replica for his daughter to play with in the back yard.

Constructed in 1975 by architect William Morgan, the “Dune House” is so named because it was actually built into the Atlantic beach sand dunes. And while it may look more like a grassy submarine from this perspective, the interior is something to be seen.

Descend the curving staircase to find the heart of the home – the kitchen, living and dining rooms. Much of the furniture is built into the home, creating the feel of a cabin suite on a large cruise liner.

A shot of the living room from the top of the spiral staircase. Despite its grassy facade, each room offers sweeping views of the ocean.

Living on the cutting edge of sustainable design doesn't have to mean sterile, futuristic decor. As this sumptuous cabin estate in Canton, TX aptly demonstrates, green living is what you make of it.

The Kirkland Kastle, a 40-acre gated estate approximately 50 minutes from Dallas, was built almost entirely from natural resources within a 10-mile radius of the home. Nearly 90 percent of the 6,000 hardwood logs used in its construction would have otherwise been destined for burn piles to make space for land clearing.

The 40-acre property includes two bridges, a barn, an on-site lake and a personal gazebo. Add to that your very own bar and lounge area, and this home manages to break every stereotype associated with eco-friendly homeowners.

The home is listed with Coldwell Banker Apex and is selling at $4 million.

This unfinished home in Malibu, Calif. is constructed entirely from the hull of a retired 747 airplane. Francie Rehwald, a Mercedes dealership owner, purchased a 55-plot of land to build her spacey home concept. Whether or not you're a fan of the Jetsons-esque facade, there may be no finer example of upcycling on the entire West coast.

A simulated drawing of what the airplane home will look like once completed. If you're still not sold on the practicality of building your home on the wings of a jumbo jet, consider the price tag: the entire plane cost a paltry $35,000, with 4.5 million reusable parts to choose from.

The notion of a massive green home may seem counterintuitive, even hypocritical to many within the green design community -- but that didn't deter Frank McKinney, a self-fashioned "daredevil real estate artist," from taking a crack at it. Judge for yourself by touring the 15,000-square-foot estate.

The fact that the home includes solar panels, high-efficiency appliances, a reusable water filtration and a bevvy of other sustainable design gimmicks --er, features -- is suddenly washed away at the sight of this aquatic garage. Park your electric car besides this underwater dividing wall, perfect for peeking at poolside divers.

Known as the Acqua Liana -- the Fijian term for "water flower," according to McKinney's site -- is built upon 1.6 acres of pristine coastal shoreline. The interior, however, channels 1960s Bond flicks. The nautical theme runs throughout the expansive mansion.

Other amenities featured in the home include a golf course driveway, two glass elevators, three laundry rooms, "swimmable water gardens," and this deluxe movie screening room.

This Mill Valley, Calif. marvel is the personal home of architect Scott A. Lee, the president of SB Architects. As Marin County's first LEED Platinum home, the highest honor granted by the U.S. Green Building Council, this refined, contemporary home is leading the way in American green design. 

The interior combines elements of Frank Lloyd Wright's modern sensibilities with an earthy, rustic charm. Here is the designer's take on a modern fireplace.

At left, a sun-filled shot of the home's kitchen. At right, a long, candle-lit dining room table -- the yin and yang of a delectable night-in.

Check out these AOL Real Estate Guides on how to live sustainably and save your hard earned greenbacks.

Energy Efficient Home Improvements on Any Budget

Ways to Shrink Your Energy Bill

Green Renting Guide

Find green homes for sale


What is bike-friendly housing?

If you're a cyclist who owns a house, you can do pretty much whatever it takes: Put your bike in the cellar or in a locked garage to keep it secure. Build shelves or a cabinet to store helmets, cycling shoes, spare tubes, tires, tools and other gear. If you don't own your own house, not to worry. An increasing number of apartment buildings are thinking about how they can meet your needs. (You can also use folding bikes for compact spaces.)

Related: Apartments for Rent

In Portland, Ore., the collective voice of cyclists is louder than in many other American cities. In the last several years, Oregon's largest city has built a network of bike lanes, bike paths and streets designated with "sharrows" -- arrow-like symbols painted to remind motorists that they share the road with cyclists. Each morning, thousands of Portland cyclists commute to work. All of this has helped earn the city a reputation as one of the most cyclist-friendly in the nation -- and it sometimes has drawn curses and rude gestures from motorists who think there are too many bikes on the road.

North Portland, across the Willamette River from downtown, is emblematic of Portland's green and bike-catering nature. On North Williams Avenue, within a few blocks of each other, are a guesthouse, a bar and an apartment complex that all cater to cyclists, plus the United Bicycle Institute, which offers classes on bike repair. All are located on a major bike commuter route. Jean Pierre Veillet is developer of the building containing the apartment complex, called EcoFlats.

Related: Green Homes for Sale

In the vestibule is a line of 30 wall-mounted bike racks with a bike hanging from nearly every one. EcoFlats appeals to the green-conscious in other ways as well: On the roof, for example, is an array of photovoltaic and solar thermal panels. Also in the vestibule is a flat-screen monitor that shows the energy usage of each apartment, which creates competition among tenants to be energy-efficient.

On the ground floor is the Hopworks BikeBar, decorated with bike frames hand-crafted locally. Hopworks has a water bottle filling station, plus 99 empty bottles of beer on the wall -- all in bike water bottle cages.

"Three thousand people ride their bikes by here each day," said Veillet, standing in front of EcoFlats, which has 18 apartments.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. Active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.

See also:
How Cities Can Go the Bike-Friendly Route
U.S. Cities Boom as Young Adults Shun Suburbs

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