Step on to the streets of any city or town, and the first thing you will notice is cars, plying up and down. While cars are a much sought-after item of necessity as well as luxury, it is also true that they are not exactly environment friendly. Several cities have taken the initiative to offer the citizens an alternative vehicular option, i.e. bicycles, and have taken the initiative to be bicycle-friendly. We can tell that a city I bicycle-friendly if it has special roads designated for drivers, as well as bike racks for them. Taking into consideration 13 categories including elements like infrastructure, traffic calming, perception, etc., the Copenhagenize Index ranked 150 cities.
Let’s take a lot at the Top 20 Bicycle-Friendly Cities in the World, According to Copenhagenize Index.
Hamburg, in Germany takes the precarious last position among the 20 bicycle-friendly cities in the world, according to Copenhagenize Index, and is ranked 14th among them. With a steadily rising modal share, it shows great promise from a global perspective, as the foundation is laid. It now needs better infrastructure and right political leadership, along with better protected cycle tracks.
The 19th country, tying with Hamburg at the 14th rank, is Paris, France, with a strong commitment towards the improvement of the Citizen Cyclists. Its successful bike share system, impressive bike infrastructure featured in large number of stretches, 30km/hr zones, and the archaic expressways along the river benefit bike traffic. But it needs more permanent solutions for space problems.
Budapest in Hungary assumes the 14th rank among the bicycle-friendly cities in the world, according to Copenhagenize Index, with social acceptance of bicycles and visionary advocacy. It is among the top Emerging Bicycle Cities, working on its network of bicycle users and bike share system. All it needs now is consistent pace, political will and modern desire to bring mobility change.
Tied at the 13th rank is Spain’s Barcelona, an exemplary Emerging Bicycle City, with its efforts to re-establish bikes as a mode of transport and a successful bike share system. Its modal share pushes 4%. It is firmly committed to 30km/hr zones. Riding here is a joy, and citizens have gladly accepted bikes. But the city needs less complacency, and the proposed Spanish helmet law might harmful.
16. Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro in Brazil has clinched the 12th rank among the bicycle-friendly cities in the world, according to Copenhagenize Index. Its cycle tracks along Copacabana Beach have been a success, and so has the bike share system. It is now looking to expand its modest network. What it needs is to calm its traffic. The bizarre speed limit of 70km/hr near the beaches is quite threat to riders, too.
The Japanese city of Nagoya, at the 11th rank, has an admirable number of Citizen Cyclists, and is the first city in Japan to build fully-protected lanes on some of their busiest streets. It is currently working on its infrastructure. What it needs now is to divert its attention to expand the protected bike infrastructure network and get bikes off the sidewalks and out of traffic, by clear classification.
The second city to assume the 11th rank is Montreal in Canada. It has long been in the game, with cycle tracks dating from the late 80s, and has been running a successful bike share system for several years. Bicycles have been socially accepted as a means of commuting, as well as for small errands. In fact, Montreal is the only North American city with cycles featuring strongly, even in their nightlife.
The German city of Munich is also tied at the 11th rank, with inspiring amounts of investments in the marketing of urban cycling. It is now implementing bold initiatives to grab attention and promote cycling. It has a 20% modal share. The city now needs to take into consideration the socio-economic benefits, and taking a step to reclaim space from cars to redistribute it to bike-users as cycle tracks.
Tokyo in Japan is at the 10th rank and receives ample attention for being a mega-city known for its car production, and yet being devoted to contributing to Japan’s position as a cycle nation. It has innovative parking solutions, and a healthy gender split. Its rigorous drivers’ training keeps roads safe for cyclists. Its 24hr metro plan will increase bikes. It needs to work on on-street infrastructure.
Ireland’s Dublin, at the 9th rank has been a great hope among Emerging Bicycle Cities. With an efficient bike share programme, it has re-established cycles on the urban landscape. The National Transport Authority is making efforts to offer a tailwind, so that that with better strategy, it can handle the rising urbanization better. With a fair share of 30km/hr zones and 7.5% modal share, it is the safest European capital. It needs to maintain the momentum in the utterly competitive system.
The 10th bicycle-friendly city, at the rank of 8, is Germany’s Berlin. It has a modal share of 13%, which rises to 20-25% in some neighbourhoods because the people with no sub-cultural influences have willingness. A broad age range, healthy gender split and infrastructure encourage the citizens to ride. But a more uniform network and right financial commitment are needed to strengthen its position.
Malmö of Sweden is at the 7th rank among the top bicycle-friendly cities in the world, according to Copenhagenize Index, with financial commitment and innovative communication for a modern city. They have allotted €47 million for 7 years, and their No Ridiculous Car Trips saw fantastic results. The named bike paths are easily found in GPS, and their helmet promotion campaigns are also balanced.
The Dutch city of Eindhoven is at a much deserved 6th rank. It has built a solid base upon which it is developing itself as one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the world. It has shown great commitment towards the issue. The city has started some visionary projects, the most commendable being the Floating Roundabout. It only needs to be more innovative like the other Emerging Bicycle Cities.
Antwerp in Belgium has clinched the 5th rank among the world’s bicycle-friendly cities, with a modal share of 16%, steady bicycle traffic for years and a successful bike share system. It achieved 100km of bicycle infrastructure between the 2006 and 2012 elections. It has done a commendable job with the bicycle parking facility at the Central train station, and has well-placed stations and saturation.
Tied at the 5th rank is Nantes in West France. With €40 million invested between 2009 and 2014 and enormous political will, it has increased its infrastructure to nearly 400km. The first city to allow right turns on red for cyclists, its modal share in the metro area was 4.5% in 2012, while in the city itself the share crossed 5%. It has a great bike share system, and cargo bike purchases are also subsidized.
At the 4th rank is Bordeaux in France, with an immense change in its cycling scenario in the past 5 years, mainly because of its investment in bike lanes and cycle tracks, hand in hand with tramway network. It has 200km of tracks in the city and 400km altogether, dedicated to bicycles. Its modal share in the city proper is 10% and in the surrounding Communauté Urbaine de Bordeaux is 5%.
Tied at the rank of 4 is Seville in Spain, with an ideal modern bicycle planning movement in place. Seville has a modal share of 7%, 80km of bicycle infrastructure and a great bike share system. It has shown an intense, rapid and positive transformation within a matter of less than a decade, and its visionary political will has led to a rapid rise in bicycle traffic. It is time to expand its bi-directional tracks.
The small Dutch city of Utrecht has clinched the prestigious 3rd rank. It is a splendid city to ride around on a bicycle, with a premier network of bicycle infrastructure, as well as fantastic usage levels. It sets quite an example, especially with its bicycle rush hour scenario, for all the other cities in the world. Its rising urbanization calls for bigger efforts to increase the level of bicycle traffic.
Copenhagen in Denmark is ranked 2nd among the most bicycle-friendly cities in the world, according to Copenhagenize Index. It has well-designed and uniform bicycle infrastructure network, which is unmatched, and several other infrastructure projects on the way, like the bicycle-pedestrian bridges over the harbour, bicycle highways, etc. What it seriously lacks, however, is a political leadership.
1. Amsterdam – Europe’s Top bicycle-friendly city
Amsterdam in the Netherlands is the most bicycle-friendly city in the world, according to Copenhagenize Index. It scores well in each category considered for this index. Its main strength is a saturation of bicycle traffic, while the widespread 30km/hr zones significantly slow down the city, keeping the people safe. The infrastructure design of the city could do with a little more uniformity.
Bicycles can take you around town without causing polluting the air or loud honking noises and without destroying fuel. Besides, easy to ride, and there’s hardly any chance of traffic problems being caused by bicycles. Besides, they are also far less expensive, and give the rider great exercise. It is advisable that for clean, pollution-free and traffic-ridden streets, countries ensue that they have bicycle-friendly cities, where the sleek vehicles become a popular public and private transportation mode.