Cycling consultancy Copenhagenize released its annual list of the best biking cities in the world, based on 13 categories, including facilities (e.g. bike racks), infrastructure, sharing schemes, and the balance of male to female cyclists.
1: Amsterdam, Netherlands

2: Copenhagen, Denmark

3: Utrecht, Netherlands (not pictured)
4: Seville, Spain (tie, not pictured)
4: Bordeaux, France (tie)

5: Nantes, France (tie, not pictured)
5: Antwerp, Belgium

6: Eindhoven, Netherlands (not pictured)
7: Malmö, Sweden

8: Berlin, Germany

9: Dublin, Ireland

10: Tokyo, Japan

11: Munich, Germany (tie, not pictured)
11: Nagoya Japan (tie, not pictured)
11: Montreal, Canada (tie)

12: Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

13: Barcelona, Spain

14: Budapest, Hungary

13: Paris, France
14: Hamburg, Germany (not pictured)

2013-05-03

Co.Exist

The 20 Best Biking Cities In The World

Where can you find them? Here’s a hint: Don’t look in the U.S.

Not long ago, you needed a crazy streak to cycle in many cities. Outside of Denmark or Holland, planners paid little attention to bikers’ needs, and the automobile ruled. No longer. These days, cycling is gaining traction in many places, as bikers grow in numbers (and political clout) and authorities start to appreciate the environmental and social benefits.

Copenhagenize’s index of the world’s most bike-friendly cities gives a sense of how far the "renaissance" has come (and how far it still has to go). The consultancy awards 0 to 4 points across 13 categories, including facilities (e.g. bike racks), infrastructure, sharing schemes, the balance of male to female cyclists, and increase in "modal share" since 2006. It then gives bonus points for "particularly impressive efforts or results," and massages the numbers to be out of 100 (a strange way of doing things, but still).

Amsterdam and Copenhagen are first and second, with other major European cities not far behind, including Berlin (8th), Dublin (9th), Munich, (11th), Barcelona and Paris (tied for 13th). Only one North American city makes it into the top 20--Montreal, in 11th place--and there are no U.S. cities. But several do make it to the top 40: Minneapolis, New York, Austin, Portland, San Francisco, Chicago.

Portland, San Francisco, and New York have fallen out of the top 20 since the 2011 ranking, though that’s not necessarily because they’ve become worse places for biking. Copenhagenize expanded the ranking this time to 150 cities from 80 last time. Eight of the top 20 now didn’t appear before: Utrecht, Seville, Bordeaux, Nantes, Antwerp, Eindhoven, Malmo, Nagoya (Japan).

Still, U.S. cities are falling back in some respects, says Copenhagenize’s Mikael Colville-Andersen.

"The primary difference in the success of the emerging bicycle cities on the list and those American cities who didn’t make it is really down to infrastructure. Barcelona, Seville, Dublin, Bordeaux, among others, have been making progress by creating safe infrastructure for users. There were no bicycles in these cities six years ago, but now they are well on their way to double-digit modal share."

The "safe" bit is the point. Lots of cities now have bike lanes, but frequently they are not well demarcated, or policed. There’s a big difference between fully separated bike paths, and "strange bike lanes on the left side of parked cars and painted sharrows," Colville-Andersen says. He sees separation as "the only way forward," though others argue that mixing can help civilize drivers.

Either way, the example of the leading cities shows if you build infrastructure people will use it, irrespective of how wide the sprawl, or how dangerous things used to be. "If you make the bicycle the fastest way from A to B, citizen cyclists will ride," he says. "That is why people ride in Copenhagen and Amsterdam. It’s simply the quickest way to get around."

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16 Comments

  • Lack of infrastructure doesn't necessarily mean a city is less cycle friendly. I live in Hanoi and cycle around extensively, and while it has no dedicated bike lanes, bikes can happily cycle down major roads. It doesn't appear safe but due to the slower traffic and attitude that bikes have a right to be in the road, it feels much safer than cycling in Australia. Bikes are slowly becoming more popular as people choose to use them over motorbikes.

  • Christoffer Jönsson

    Malmö should be above Copenhagen. Malmö is a much smaller Town but has (in miles) more bike-routs and lanes. Copenhagen has the rumor, Malmö has the reality.

  • Christoffer Jönsson

    Malmö should be higher than Copenhagen... its much smaller but has (in miles) much more bike-paths.

  • Blah

    Lyon in France perhaps. As long as you have a credit card with a chip on it (which is what the locals have), you can easily bike the city

  • Masha

    I lived in Vienna and Cologne and these are some of the most bike friendly cities that I know. Way friendlier than Rio or even Paris!!

  • Ko Bi

    Hamburg? Really? I live in Hamburg and the streets here are horrible and I dont even have to mention the bikepaths. Even London is way better.

  • Philill

    Anybody know what kind of nodel/make that woman in the pic is riding? Looks like a great family bike.

  • mariposaman

    That is a mamachari (mama chariot) common in Japan instead of the ubiquitous mini-van used in North America. Actual make and model I do not know.

  • Sylvia Carolina

    Every week a biker gets run over by a bus in Rio. Bike rentals is almost inexistent, bike paths a total joke.

  • Gail900

    Agree 1000%.  Would never consider riding more than the beach paths or around the lake in Rio.  To do more is suicidal.  Doubt author has ever tried more than that. 

  • iUnplug

    Living on Hilton Head we see our share of bite riders on our extensive bike paths, but nothing compares to our visit to amsterdam. We still have a long way to go in the US.

  • Joris Claeys

    Proud to see Qntwerp on #5 but note that Antwerp is in Flanders, Belgium my friends. Thanks for correcting.

  • STOP SPANGLISH

    While Seville's certainly made great strides in promoting bike use, it's a bit hard to believe that it's better than many other cities in the States or Canada, such as Ottawa. 

  • manololoc

    Why is Bogota, Colombia left out of this list.  That's a huge miss.  Also, what about China and parts of SE Asia?  Euro Centric list to increase tourism, no bueno. 

  • Alex Zhang

    Definitely not China or SE Asia, bicycles seem to be getting more unpopular there as automobiles became widespread. 
    But I do wonder where can I get the complete list of this, they do not seem to have it on their website.