Urban cycling is becoming increasingly popular on a global scale, and a couple of dozen cities are investing time, money and resources in order to become more and more bike-friendly in terms of infrastructure, regulations and environmental benefits. According to the world’s most comprehensive inventory and ranking of bicycle-friendly cities, Copenhagenize Index 2017, these are the world’s 20 most bike-friendly cities!
#20 Montreal, Canada
Being the sole North American Representative, Montreal has been leading the continent for a couple of decades now and building cycle tracks long before any other city had thought of it. Constantly upgrading the outdated bi-directional system, Montreal is improving and building new infrastructure with the bike share system included.
#19 Oslo, Norway
The darling of the 2017 Index (Copenhagenize’s words, not ours) has broken the record for the highest rise in ranking. Predicted to be The Next Big Bicycle City by Copenhagenize in 2016, Oslo has started work in supporting existing efforts to encourage cycling by 2019. The activities include closing the city centre to private cars and implementing bicycle lanes. A lot is happening, so Oslo is definitely worth keeping an eye on.
#18 Helsinki, Finland
Last seen on the Index in 2011, Helsinki has been developing in the right direction since then. Working hard to keep the infrastructure clear of snow in the winter, weather challenges are bound to happen when you’re so far up north. Launching its successful bike share in 2016 it will be interesting to see if the city’s goal of 15% modal share by 2020 will be reached. Seems very likely.
#17 Hamburg, Germany
Though not seeming too eager to improving their infrastructure to make the city more bike-friendly, it is impressive how Hamburg ranks at #17 in the Index. The impressive amount of bicycles gives the impression of being in Amsterdam or Copenhagen! The city has a high level of cycling – the quite bizarre infrastructure suits locals while visitors unfortunately find it difficult to navigate.
#16 Nantes, France
In 2013 this French city came out of nowhere and politically pushed cycling to be a normal transportation form has had a very positive development since then until recently. Nantes has slipped nine spots to 16th place since the Copenhagenize Index of 2015. By 2030 the city will have invested $56 million to get the cycling modal share up to 12%. Activities include increasing in cargo bikes as a logistics solution and having new bike shops and start-ups working on smart bikes and accessories.
#15 Munich, Germany
After dropping out in 2015, Munich returns as #15 on Copenhagenize Index 2017. This is a city that impresses with its continous improvements to make the city more bike-friendly. It has built more cycling infrastructure than any other German city the past few years, and still plans to build 14 bicycle superhighways to encourage people to cycle longer distances. Indeed, Munich is a city we can expect to see great things.
#14 Seville, Spain
Seville has indeed been a first-mover on promoting cycling as transport on a political level. Due to inactivity on the subject, the city has unfortunately dropped on the Index for the second consecutive time. However, things appear to be taking a shift. The municipal government is keen on their plan to optimize infrastructure with the same drive and passion as before the inactive period. We’re looking forward to following Seville’s progress for Bicycle Network 2.0 – a development towards a more bike-friendly infrastructure.
#13 Paris, France
Paris has stepped up 4 spots since the last Index, mostly for their plan to reach 15% modal share by 2020. Due to Paris’ strong political will to become greener, the city created a very friendly bike sharing system Vélíb’ Métropole with over 23.600 bikes and 1800 stations spaced every 300 meters across the capital. Also, the city revamped the Seine riverfront and a major highway that follows the river and made it completely car-free, opening up the change for cyclists to tour popular spots pollution-free. The city keeps improving life for pedestrians and cyclists, so if the development continues we will undoubtedly spot the French capital on the next Index.
#12 Vienna, Austria
Vienna usually slowly sneaks up the Index, but this time the city accelerated its efforts and moved up four spaces! Even though the city’s modal share isn’t rising fast, it still excels at communicating cycling as a normal transport form. The city boasts 1300 km of cycleways, dedicated road lanes and traffic-calmed center with some cycle tracks. Vienna’s activities for improvement include installing a cargo bike share system and providing subsidies to citizens who wish to purchase one. The rise of the cargo bike here is impressive, and we are definitely predicting a slow but steady growth towards a more bike-friendly Vienna.
#11 Barcelona, Spain
Bold promises regarding bicycle urbanism have been made by Barcelona’s Mayor Ada Colau and since the last Index, development hasn’t been difficult to notice. The length of the bike infrastructure has increased by 20% and, at time of writing, 62.5 km of cycle tracks – costing €20 million – are being built. The pilot projects Superilla (the superblocks) have had amazing effect on the neighbourhoods, resulting in traffic calm streets due to bicycle traffic. The Bicing bike share system continues to be a success and there are plans for expansion. A lot of activities are happening, so depending on how it develops politically, Barcelona is heading in the right direction.
#10 Berlin, Germany
The German capital is up two spots in the 2017 Index, due to the new coalition’s focus on sustainable transport has lead to Berlin investing greatly in becoming more bike-friendly. Berlin is almost tailor-made for cycling with its flat terrain, wide roads and spacious courtyards for parking bikes. The modal share is a respectable 13% but there are neighbourhoods where the numbers are as high as 20%. A new bike share is slated for 2017 and there are experiments with traffic-free streets and they are testing Green Waves for cyclists.
The number of cargo bikes for private and commercial use is rising exponentially, showing that the citizens are ready for a car-free daily life. The cycling citizens show daily that they are ready to cycle. And only with improved infrastructure and a better network will the city move forward.
#9 Tokyo, Japan
With only 10 km of cycling lanes and poor enforcement regarding cycling laws, it is a wonder how Tokyo made the Index 2017. Or is it? Even though infrastructure isn’t as developed as it could be and there isn’t a particular thorough urban planning policy, people bike in Tokyo simply due to the fact that it’s highly convenient. An estimate of 14% of all trips in Tokyo are by bicycle – and that’s without even investing in it.
#8 Lubjana, Slovenia
In the city of Ljubljana there are more miles of protected cycle tracks than in all of Canada. With 73 km of cycle tracks and 133 km og bicycle lanes in a city of 280.000 citizens, it is seriously impressive. Ljubljana’s self-service rental system BicikeLJ is also worth checking out. Since its introduction in 2011, it’s become super popular, with over 4,6 million rides in this system alone. 12% of the city’s population opt for bikes as their best means of transportation! If you consider yourself a passionate cyclist, you should definitely pay Ljubjana a visit.
#7 Antwerp, Belgium
Since the 2013 Index, Antwerp rises and falls on the top half the ranking and in 2017 they have bumped themselves back up to seventh place. The city is implementing modern design bike racks and there are temporary bike parking facilities for large events. The bike parking at the Central Station continues to impress and other stations are getting improved parking facilities as well.
Traditional and professional cycling is one of the most popular sports in Belgium, as the country is covered in long-distance cycling routes, with many of them leading to Antwerp. One of the routes, the LF51, is 220 km long from Antwerp to Zeebrugge at the Belgian Coast. This is just one of the 500 routes to choose from in the versatile Antwerp, offering beautiful nature surroundings as well urbanism.
#6 Bordeaux, France
Not only is Bordeaux in the top 10 of the world’s great wine capitals but the city also has a strong reputation as a top bike-friendly city globally. With more than 643 km og bicycle paths, Bordeaux focuses on more soft urban transportation systems, including a significant development of the cycling network, with a 57 mio. euro investment. Various cycling routes take you to south-east towards Toulouse as well as leading west to the Atlantic Ocean.
#5 Malmö, Sweden
Since the Index 2015, Sweden’s 3rd largest city has continued their focus on cementing the bicycle as transport in the city. With a whopping 500 km bike lane distance, the city is looking to upgrade their bike share and further develop their infrastructure. There are also great possibilities for travelling by bike to neighbouring towns and even countries. Malmö may be the little sibling to the other cities around them but they just seem to shrug and get on with it. The City is populated by a great group of people all intent on carving out a place for themselves in the global bicycle narrative.
#4 Strasbourg, France
Of course the country that gave us Tour de France is well represented on the Index. France’s no. 1 most bike-friendly city is Strasbourg, with a network of over 560 km of cycling trails. This city loves biking so much that it even has an annual festival – La Fête du Vélo, celebrating cycling for the last 20 years. Strasbourg is planning a coherent network of “bicycle superhighways” with three ring routes and several radial routes to suburbs and neighbouring towns.
The city is the first one in France to reach a 16% modal share for bicycle commuting and there has been a 3% increase in the city centre. A large part of the old city center is a car-free zone, which makes it extra safe to cycle or walk. Combine this with the ecological Vélhop bike sharing service, and you’ve got the perfect cycling destination.
#3 Amsterdam, Netherlands
We’ve reached the top 3 of the Copenhagenize Index 2017 and it’s no surprise that Amsterdam with its 400 km of bike lanes and paths are this high up. Super High population density not to mention visitor rates, cycling makes it convenient to not only discover but also experience the city. Truly a wonder that this city and the Netherlands still manage to have one of the lowest rates of serious cycling accidents in the world with 38% of all trips in Amsterdam are made by bike. The reason Amsterdam isn’t even higher up on this list is due to the fact that the city doesn’t seem to reflect on innovative development for cycling in the future.
#2 Utrecht, Netherlands
Dutch cities have a tendency to maintain rather than improve – but not Utrecht. Serious investments are being made for bicycle urbanism, such as the uniquely designed Dafne Schippersbrug bridge. With ongoing plans to build 33.000 parking spots for bikes at the Central Station by 2020, Utrecht continues to impress with its development on cycling. As if the current 12.000 spots weren’t enough. Other activities include the Flo, a speed detection system coupled with digital kiosks that reach each cyclist’s speed, and with 6 km of bicycle streets and plans for more, we are exited to follow the development of Utrecht.
Image source: Mother Nature Network
#1 Copenhagen, Denmark
The most bike-friendly city in the world according to the Copenhagenize Index 2017 is Copenhagen, Denmark! With over 62% of the citizens riding their bike daily to work or education (and only 9% drive cars!), it is no wonder that the city has invested €134 million over the past ten years in bicycle infrastructure and facilities. In order to filling in all the missing mobility links for bicycle transport, there are a whopping sixteen new bridges for bicycles (and pedestrians) built or under construction, eight of those have opened since the 2015 Index and four more are financed or under construction.
Since 2015, Copenhagen has completed the Harbour Ring bicycle route that allows citizens to cycle along the whole inner harbour. The city also piloted a new Green Wave system that detects cyclists, launched digital traffic congestion signs to improve flow through the city and opened new bicycle superhighway routes.
Very few places in the world prioritize innovation as much as Copenhagen with a city council that’s so committed to modernising their transport and infrastructure. Not to mention that Copenhagen is Best in Class when it comes to gathering data and using it to plan for the future.
Watch how a normal Copenhagen morning looks
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Hana, Southern Distributors