Every Friday, we help you navigate the week’s most important and interesting travel news stories.

Amazing things that should happen more often

While residents of the Netherlands and Denmark have long been bicycle riders, the rest of the region is starting to follow suit. In almost every European country, bicycles are outselling new cars. In Italy, bikes outsold cars for the first time since World War II, and Belgium and Luxembourg were the only EU countries where car sales outpaced bike sales. Much of the change has to do with a struggling economy, and only time will tell whether the trend will continue when the economy recovers. [NPR]

Qantas will earn the title for world's longest flight for its Sydney-Dallas route next month when Singapore Airlines stops direct service between Singapore and Newark. Singapore Airlines will retire the A340-500 jets – which are entirely business class – due to fuel inefficiency, and forfeit the long-distance crown. [Australian Business Traveller]

With Virgin Galactic planning on launching passengers into space by 2014, commercial space tourism has nearly arrived.  Now, a US firm has announced plans to offer two-hour helium balloon flights providing views of Earth from 20 miles up. The newest commercial space venture hopes to take off by 2016. [Telegraph]

Inflight entertainment
Photos and videos that went viral on the Web this week

Comic website Doghouse Diaries created a hilarious map showing what each country leads the world in. Highlights include Russia for raspberries, Cameroon for killer lakes and Cambodia for the longest alphabet. [news.com.au]

The European Space Agency has thousands of high-resolution satellite images, which website Twisted Sifter has used to compile an amazing collection of 18 photos this week. [Twisted Sifter]

Ready for takeoff
All set to go, but too soon to tell what’s ahead

South Korean tourism officials have announced plans for the country's first nudist beach, which seems like an ambitious plan in a nation where swimwear commonly resembles gym clothes.  [CNN Travel]

Ryanair's decidedly unpopular CEO Michael O'Leary went on Twitter this week to answer questions from travellers. After dodging some verbal abuse, O'Leary announced he plans to bring improved customer service and a frequent flyer rewards programme to the budget airline. [Telegraph]

Hold on folks, we’re in for a rocky ride

Professional basketball Hall-of-Famer Dennis Rodman made his second trip to North Korea last month, and returned with tales of dictator Kim Jong-un's yacht, private island and “seven-star” party lifestyle. "It's like going to Hawaii or Ibiza – but he's the only one that lives there," Rodman said. There might be something to be said about Kim Jong-un's only Western friend being known as "The Worm". [The Week]

The FBI's terrorism unit is investigating two incidents in which green lights temporarily blinded two pilots at New York's La Guardia airport last week. It turns out laser pointers – the kind used in university class – have been used in a growing number of attacks on planes in recent years. [Quartz]

After complaints from air travellers grew louder about not being able to use electronic gadgets below 10,000ft, the Federal Aviation Administration chief has announced that changes to the rule could be coming soon. Somewhere, a smiling Alec Baldwin is preparing to play Words With Friends during takeoff. [USA Today/Mashable]

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