Copenhagenize, a Danish urban design company, has been releasing a ranking of the world’s most bike-friendly cities for almost every year since 2011. The results for 2015 have been recently published, showing that European cities continue to dominate the list, especially the top ten. There are several newcomers like Strasbourg and Ljubljana, but for the most part the Index does not offer too many surprises.
When first launched, the Copenhagenize Index was supposed to only be used internally by employees at the Copenhagenize Design Company, an urban design consultancy specializing in bike-friendly urban planning. Since the company works with both local and international clients, they saw the need to develop an index and score, to be presented to clients in order to determine the most effective approach to planning future infrastructure projects.
But with growing concern for the environment and its relation to transportation, Copenhagenize quickly realized that the Index might be of interest to the public as well. Only the top 20 countries are published, whereas the rest, (over 120 countries are on this year's list) is used internally.
The response from the public was overwhelming in 2011 when the Index was first released, and as a result of this the company has continued to release the Index every two years. In addition research shows that there are certain benefits to be derived from investing in bicycle infrastructure. One Danish study concluded that society acquires 23 cents in net profit for every kilometer travelled by bike. The equivalent distance by car however results in a net loss of -16 cents.
The criteria for the Index are made up of 13 categories. The cities are given points between zero to four in each category depending on how well they have done. The categories cover everything from what the bicycle infrastructure is like to rating the political climate surrounding bicycling in a city.
Amsterdam and Copenhagen are the two cities that continue to govern the list. Several cities like Berlin and Hamburg have dropped down several places. Then there are several newcomers who show what can be achieved in a very short amount of time, and serve as an inspiration for other cities.
After coming second in the two previous rankings, Copenhagen finds itself at the top of the list. The city continues to invest in cycling as one of the main means of transportation. About 50 % use bikes to get to work and school during the week. It will definitely be interesting to see what the Danes come up with next.
Second on the list is Amsterdam. While the Dutch capital has built a reputation for itself as a true bicycle capital, there is a reason why it didn’t make it to the first place this year. There is a certain lack of interest for improving the current bicycle network. With other cities gaining momentum and realizing the potential of bicycles as an alternative transportation, Amsterdam might risk falling behind soon if they are not careful enough.
Strasbourg might not be on the third place, but due to the city being new on the list and having earned a well-deserved fourth place it is definitely worth a closer look. The French city has a long tradition of cycling, and it is easy to get from one part of the city to another by bike. 536 km of bike paths go through Strasbourg. What’s more, they have a practical bike share system called the Vélhop. It allows you to rent a bike from docking stations which can be found all over the city, and some bikes even come equipped with a child seat. The current share rate for bikes in the city center is 15 %.
The 2015 Index
Is your city bike-friendly? What other European cities would you add to this list?