There are lots of cities where it’s good to be a cyclist, but some are truly two-wheel paradises.
The newly released Copenhagenize Index 2013, produced by the Copenhagenize Design Co., ranked 150 cities around the world on 13 parameters, including cycling facilities, culture, sharing program, gender split, politics, and traffic calming.
It also gave bonus points for categories like political leadership.
Here are the top 20 cities, each with a score out of 100 points.
The list starts at number 14, since there are a few ties.
2011 Rank: 13
The Copenhagenize Report: The Index always offers up surprises. More often than not it is when cities show up on the list. To be honest, we were surprised that Hamburg made the cut and clung onto the last spot in the Top 20.
In a global perspective, Hamburg is a premier league player, no doubt about it. The city's modal share has been steady and is slowly rising. The citizens are returning to the bicycle, especially in the neighborhoods.
The city's planners haven't really realised that it's a new millennium and much of their infrastructure is sub-standard. But it's there. Ready to form the foundation for more, better protected cycle tracks.
Copenhagenize Fixes: If Hamburg gets the right political leadership, the city will blossom as an urban cycling paradise. The need for infrastructure that adheres to best practice is becoming more and more apparent.
The 20th spot on the Copenhagenize Index is a fragile position to be in what with so many other cities making impressive efforts and eager to move up the list. Get with the global programme or get left behind. You're snuggled in between Copenhagen and Amsterdam.
Figure it out.
2011 Rank: 7
The Copenhagenize Report: The second global mega-city on the list after Tokyo, Paris continues to impress. If every city had political vision like Paris, regarding liveable cities, the world would be a better place.
Paris has left London and New York in the dust over the past six years. In particular, New York is making efforts to catch up, but Paris' commitment to improving conditions for Citizen Cyclists remains strong.
The city's bike share system remains a success and an impressive number of stretches feature bicycle infrastructure.
With 30 km/h zones and the removal of archaic expressways along the river, bicycle traffic will benefit. The fantastic role of the bike share system in the nightlife shows that the citizens are embracing the bicycle for all purposes. Nobody would have thought that Paris could have done all it has done but the city continues to pinch us to tell us we're not dreaming.
Copenhagenize Fixes: Planners have been searching for space for bicycle infrastructure and Paris has some unique solutions. They are, however, solutions that are not sustainable in the long run.
It's time to up the stakes and go after a more permanent solution with the creation of more protected cycle tracks. The success of the bike share system is impressive but better maintenance is required, as well as increasing the number of stations at both transport hubs and popular nightlife neighborhoods.
2011 Rank: 10
The Copenhagenize Report: Budapest continues to build upon the successes of the past few years, although we fear the pace may have slowed. The city's force remains visionary advocacy and the social acceptance of the bicycle.
One of the leaders among Emerging Bicycle Cities, Budapest is getting it's brain wrapped around infrastructure and development of a sensible network for bicycle users.
A city that can gather 50,000-80,000 for peaceful bicycle rides has some golden opportunities that can and must be exploited.
Copenhagenize Fixes: Like every other city on the planet, it's all about the infrastructure. The city has brilliant advocacy, but it is now time to push for more protected cycle tracks. Paint ain't the same.
Budapest is a regional leader in bicycle culture but without political will and a modern desire for mobility change, their role will be overtaken by others. The upcoming bike share system, if implemented correctly, will be a game-changer for the city.
More infrastructure should be in place before the bike share system starts up.
2011 Rank: 3
The Copenhagenize Report: Another poster child among Emerging Bicycle Cities, Barcelona has impressed the world with their efforts to reestablish the bicycle as transport.
Their bike share system is a smashing success, protected infrastructure carries bicycle users along many routes and the citizens have embraced the bicycle like in few other places.
With a modal share pushing 4%, Barcelona has every reason to be proud of what they have achieved over just a few years.
The city's firm commitment to 30 km/h zones is impressive and local advocacy is well-organised and influential. Barcelona is an enjoyable city to cycle in.
Copenhagenize Fixes: Barcelona fell from a lofty 3rd place in 2011 to number 12 this year. A lot of competition entered the Index this time around and Barcelona suffered from it. After a few years of insistent progress, it seems that Barcelona has plateaued.
Cities that slow down after having showed us visionary leadership can be frustrating. There are a handful of cities poised for promotion to the premier league of cycling cities and Barcelona is certainly one of them.
What Barcelona needs is political leadership and investment in bicycle infrastructure. Building further on the foundations of their hard work. Complacency is a threat to the city. The proposed Spanish helmet law is another dark shadow on the horizon. Barcelona, like Seville, will suffer the consequences if the law is passed.
2011 Rank: 18
The Copenhagenize Report: We're well into The Rio Decade. With the Olympics and World Cup around the corner, Rio is going to be all over our lives for several years. Rio de Janeiro put in cycle tracks along the Copacabana beach in the lead up to the Rio Climate Summit in 1992 and the tracks were expanded along the other beaches because... they worked.
Now the city has a modest network and is looking to expand now that the world is coming and going to stay for a while. The Cariocas are well-acquainted with the bicycle and the new bike share system is enjoying an impressive success.
The time is ripe for Rio to become a world-class bicycle city. Rio is one of the few cities on the Index in 2011 to rise in this 2013 version. Impressive in light of the tough competition added to the Index.
Copenhagenize Fixes: Traffic calming measures are desperately needed in the city, along with an expansion of the bicycle infrastructure network - based on Best Practice. It's rather bizarre that the speed limit along the famous beaches is still 70 km/h.
With the booming Brazilian economy, urbanization is a more pressing issue than in many parts of the world. Rio needs to put their money on bicycle traffic and public transport if they want to avoid the madness that is Sao Paulo.
There is political will, it seems, to make an effort. Now is the time for Rio. What the city does now, in the lead up to the Olympics and World Cup, will determine the future of mobility in the city.
2011 Rank: None
The Copenhagenize Report: Japan is, of course, no stranger to the bicycle. 15% of the population ride bicycles for transport and the national government has a goal of 25%. Nagoya, like many Japanese cities, has impressive numbers of Citizen Cyclists.
The city is also moving into a leadership role regarding infrastructure. They have built fully-protected lanes on some of their busiest streets, modelled on the Copenhagen cycle tracks - the first city in Japan to make this bold move.
Nowhere near a network, this is nonetheless a sea change in bicycle urbanism in Japan. Every country needs a leadership city. Nagoya is well-poised to fill that role.
Copenhagenize Fixes: Once you start to build protected lanes you have a hard time stopping. Nagoya needs to expand their protected bicycle infrastructure network to make a serious effort to encourage more bicycle transport.
As well as getting bicycles out of the traffic and off the sidewalks. Clearly defining the classification of the bicycle in traffic is probably a national issue, but creating more protected cycle tracks in Nagoya will serve to inspire clearer rules for bicycle traffic.
2011 Rank: 8
The Copenhagenize Report: Once again, Montreal maintains its position as North America's premiere bicycle city. With cycle tracks dating from the late 1980s, Montreal has long been ahead of the curve.
The city's bike share system is successful and cycling is on the up - both commuting and use of the bicycle for errands and socially. Montreal is one city in North America where bicycles feature strongly in the nightlife of the city.
Good advocacy is influential and the city's recent move to gather all the players around one table in order to consult more efficiently is a wise move. Politically, having someone bold like Luc Ferrandez, Mayor of the Plateau, helps move the city towards the next level. We see more cargo bikes in Montreal than most cities in North America, which is a healthy sign that all-round bicycle culture is embraced.
Montreal fell from #8 in 2011 but at #11 this time around, the city remains strong.
Copenhagenize Fixes: With such a fantastic foundation, built up over so many years, it's time for a big push forward in order to capitalise. A push that will set the standard for North American cities.
The bi-directional cycle tracks are crowded in the rush hour and we would prefer to see more best practice infrastructure on more streets. It's time to move on, Montreal. The cycle tracks on Laurier East are a step in the right direction.
A number of North American cities are hovering just outside the Top 20 and they're not going to wait for your lead. Maintain your impressive position by taking a great leap forward and take your leadership role seriously.
2011 Rank: 6
The Copenhagenize Report: Munich's drive to increase cycling levels leaves other cities in the dust, what with its impressive investments in marketing urban cycling aimed to give the bicycle a higher status among the citizens.
Their infrastructure and facilities are respectable and the city continues planning for more. Munich fell, however, to #11 in 2013 from #6 in 2011. Mostly because bolder cities entered the fray, absolutely, but Munich faded slightly from the radar since 2011.
Their momentum continues, but these days it is in-your-face initiatives that get your attention and that serve to boost a city's profile. Not to mention cycling levels. Munich brands itself successfully as a cycling city and in the global perspective the city is a main player. A 20% modal share is brilliant.
Copenhagenize Fixes: We're still waiting for the next bold move after their marketing investment in Citizen Cycling. We're patient but the time is ripe for Munich to roll up their sleeves and aim for overtaking their rival, Berlin, as Germany's best large city for cycling.
Reclaiming space from cars and badly redistributing it to bicycle users in the form of modern cycle tracks is the next big move for the city. The creation of a world-beating bicycle infrastructure network. Nothing less.
First place on this list is well within reach for Munich if they choose to pursue it. Wait too long and other cities will get their first to reap the socio-economic benefits.
2011 Rank: 4
The Copenhagenize Report: The biggest city to make the list, it is important that a mega-city like Tokyo appears here. Mega-cities are inspired by mega-cities more than smaller ones.
So, the largest city in the world's third great bicycle nation comes in at number 10. That is down 6 from the 2011 Index, but the competition is tough. Japan - car-producing nation that it is - still understands the bicycle's role in the urban theatre.
Tokyo maintains a healthy gender split and the rigorous drivers' training that motorists must go through in Japan keeps the streets safer than many other countries. Parking solutions at transport hubs are often innovative and inspirational. Tokyo is preparing to let the metro run 24 hours, which will increase the number of bicycles. So often public transport goes hand in hand with bicycle traffic.
Copenhagenize Fixes: Tokyo has more separated infrastructure than most cities but as in 2011, we would like to see the infrastructure network expanded and modernized.
The uniquely Japanese habit of mixing bicycles with pedestrians on sidewalks works in many densely-populated areas but more on-street infrastructure is now becoming the norm in cities.
Tokyo can teach so much but they should also learn from others. The race is on for the bicyclefication of our mega-cities. Tokyo needs to step into a more bold leadership role.
2011 Rank: 9
The Copenhagenize Report: Dublin is the Great Bike Hope among Emerging Bicycle Cities. Visionary political will can be all too fleeting but the city seems to keep on pushing forward. T
he city still has bicycles on the brain and the National Transport Authority is trying to provide a tailwind. Dublin's incredibly successful bike share programme has been instrumental in reestablishing the bicycle on the urban landscape.
Now larger-scale infrastructure projects and a city-wide cycling strategy can take the city to the next level as it tackles rising urbanization with little room left for more cars. 30 km/h zones and bicycle infrastructure have combined to make Dublin the safest EU capital.
With a modal share of 4%, the city centre can boast of levels of 6-7%. An incredible rise over just six or so years. Dublin is the only city after Amsterdam and Copenhagen to retain their placement on the Index. They scored high on the bonus points. They remain an inspiration and a city to watch.
Copenhagenize Fixes: As we wrote in 2011, 'The leading bicycle city in the Anglo-Saxon world got to where they are because of ballsy political decision-making. A bridgehead is established.'
It looks like Dublin has kept the bridgehead secure and is now moving forward into the battle to make their city more liveable and worthy of this new century. Keep the momentum and don't be afraid to push it harder.
2011 Rank: 5
The Copenhagenize Report: Berlin seems to have the right pragmatic attitude towards bicycle traffic that you see in Amsterdam and Copenhagen. People just on with it.
This willingness among the population - free of narrow sub-cultural influences - is a gift to the city.
A modal share of 13% is impressive for a city the size of Berlin. The fact that in some neighborhoods the share rises to 20-25% is a sign that the citizens will take it to the level. A healthy gender split and a broad age range further brand cycling as a normal transport form. The city's bicycle infrastructure contributes positively to encouraging citizens to ride.
Copenhagenize Fixes: While infrastructure is the key to any city's success in mainstreaming urban cycling, Berlin is a curious case.
Riding around the city is interesting from a bicycle planning perspective. You get to see a fantastic variety of infrastructure solutions. It doesn't, however, make it easy to get around.
We want to see a more uniform network based on Best Practice. They city keeps saying they're broke but then chucks money into road infrastructure and an airport. Berlin has everything to gain but also everything to lose without the right financial commitment to infrastructure.
Their placement on the Index is deserved but it is also among the most fragile.
2011 Rank: None
The Copenhagenize Report: Like Antwerp's longing glances across the border with the Netherlands, Sweden's third-largest city has long looked to Copenhagen for inspiration. There is certainly little inspiration to be had from the larger cities to the north in their own country.
Now we see Malmö muscling their way up the Index with financial commitment, fantastic and innovative communications and a real desire for modernizing their city. They've committed €47 million to boosting bicycle traffic over the next 7 years and their 'No Ridiculous Car Trips' campaign has redefined bicycle communications for many other cities.
They've given their bicycle paths names so they are easier to find in GPS and they remain balanced with helmet promotion, in contrast to Stockholm and Gothenburg. Lots of details and lots of impressive projects all add up for Malmö. The
Copenhagenize Fixes: Malmö is putting their money where their mouth is. They see the socio-economic benefits of cycling and are hungry for more.
Keeping a lid on shock-horror helmet campaigns is important for the city and continued focus on Citizen Cyclists will boost their cycling rates even more. Keep aiming higher with projects like the superhighway to Lund.
Sweden needs a role model and you're the best one they have.
2011 Rank: None
The Copenhagenize Report: The third Dutch city to make the Top 20, Eindhoven deserves its ranking at number 6. What it lacks in the innovation exhibited by other Emerging Bicycle Cities on this list it makes up for with a solid base from which to further develop its work.
Projects like the new Floating Roundabout are visionary - especially given the Dutch tendency to rest on their laurels. If that kind of commitment continues, Eindhoven will climb the ranking with ease.
Copenhagenize Fixes: The world needs visionaries. If you could pull the Floating Roundabout of your sleeve, Eindhoven, what else are you capable of?
Show us. Reject the status quo and take your visions to the next level.
2011 Rank: None
The Copenhagenize Report: Another newcomer on the list, Antwerp, Belgium, ties with Nantes for 5th. Influenced by the bicycle goodness across the Dutch border, the city has maintained a steady level of bicycle traffic for a number of years.
With a modal share of 16% in the city, it is clear that the bicycle is a main transport mode. All well and good but Antwerp is another city that is banking on bicycles in its efforts to modernize.
Political engagement is impressive - in the 2006 elections, 100 km of bicycle infrastructure was promised and it was completed in the months up to the 2012 elections. It features a lot of best practice, separated infrastructure which certainly helped in the ranking. The bicycle parking facility at the Central train station is fantastic and shows what is possible.
Antwerp is one of the cities in the world with a high modal share that has also introduced a bike share system and it has proved popular due to intelligent placement of stations and saturation. Roughly the size of Copenhagen - both the city and the metro area, Antwerp is an inspiration for medium-sized cities looking to improve conditions for bicycle users. Great advocacy has also been key in boosting the profile of the bicycle as transport.
Copenhagenize Fixes: After the burst of political promise and interest in building infrastructure, one could fear that the public officials will wash their hands of it.
While Antwerp is high on the table, commitment must remain steady over the next many years. Keep looking across the border to the Netherlands and importing good ideas. Lord knows you won't get any great ideas from Brussels to the south. When you're at 16% modal share, 25% is right around the corner. If you want it.
2011 Rank: None
The Copenhagenize Report: Right behind Bordeaux is another French city making a surprising appearance in the Top 20. Nantes. If there is one city in Europe that is taking a serious look at a changing the game, it's Nantes. Enormous political will is key to the paradigm shift in the city and the metro area. While positive political signals are vital, let's not forget that the city will spend €40 million on cycling between 2009 and 2014 and have increased their bicycle infrastructure to almost 400 km.
The modal share in the Métropole (metro area) rose from 2% to 4.5% between 2008 and 2012 and it has surpassed 5% in the city itself. Nantes was the first city in France to allow right turns on red for bicycle users. A great bike share system and subsidies for cargo bike purchases also boost Nantes' ranking and gave them impressive bonus points.
The City is the 'Green Capital of Europe 2013' - which means absolutely nothing to most of us, but the City will also host the 2015 Velo-City Bicycle Conference. The point being their are keen to profile themselves and commit to change.
Copenhagenize Fixes: So you're talking the talk, Nantes. You're also starting to walk the walk but what will define the liveability of the city is how far you're willing to go. Your goal of 15% modal share is great and you're on your way.
You are, however, still a 'work in progress' so maintaining the political will and investment is incredibly important. Expand your infrastructure network - including more international best practice and take traffic calming measures seriously.
2011 Rank: None
The Copenhagenize Report: Every country needs a city that just gets on with it and shows what is possible. Bordeaux is that city in France. For many years, Strasbourg was regarded as the premier cycling city but Bordeaux storms into fourth spot on the Top 20 of the Copenhagenize Index for what it has achieved in the past five or so years.
Unlike most cities, where bicycles had largely disappeared from the urban landscape, there were still a few bicycle users in the south-western French city. Nevertheless, the city has invested brilliantly in bike lanes and cycle tracks. There are 200 km in the city and 400 in all when you include the surrounding CUB - Communauté Urbaine de Bordeaux.
In the CUB there is a 5% modal share, but that rises to 10% in the city proper. Up from just a couple of percentage points only 6 years ago. Bordeaux is taking bicycle transport seriously, and it goes hand in hand with the city's new investment in an impressive tramway network. As we often see, a tramway city becomes a bicycle friendly city.
Bordeaux's bike share system VCub is a great success and serves to place bicycles beneath a great many citizens. Bordeaux has figured out how to market its bicycle initiatives to a mainstream crowd, avoiding the narrow and ineffective sub-cultural context. France is the country in Europe that is taking bicycle transport most seriously and Bordeaux has become the leader.
Copenhagenize Fixes: What Bordeaux needs to do is solidify its infrastructure. There are many painted lanes that could be made permanent with separated curbs, which will serve to keep people safer and give them the all important sense of safety.
Using available space on the streets to widen lanes and tracks is a key move, as well. Expanding the network will bring more citizens back to the bicycle and make cycling an even more competitive transport form.
2011 Rank: None
The Copenhagenize Report: Seville is the poster child of the modern bicycle planning movement. Nothing less. From a modal share of 0.5% in 2006, the city went from zero to hero and now boasts 7% modal share. The rapid rise in bicycle traffic was due to visionary political will. 80 km of bicycle infrastructure was completed in just one year and more was added later.
he transformation was rapid, intense and positive. Other cities look to Seville for inspiration and they have shown what is possible. Their bike share system played an equal role in bringing the bicycles back. Indeed, you can't have a bike share system if you don't have infrastructure for people to ride them on.
eville did everything right and transformed their city. While their 7% is far off the high 30s of the three cities above them on the list, Seville reaped maximum bonus points - 12 - in a number of categories including infrastructure, modal share increase since 2006 (6.5%) politics and bike share.
Copenhagenize Fixes: Where to go from here? For starters, aiming for the goal laid out by the Charter of Brussels is a fine idea. A modal share of 15% is the holy grail for European cities. Getting to 5% is the difficult task but getting from there to 15% is much easier.
Seville wants to continue their wave of bicycle culture success, more political will is required. Investment and vision go hand in hand. If Spain adopts the feared mandatory helmet law this year, Seville's ranking - and future as a bicycle-friendly city - is at stake.
It's also time to expand the bi-directional tracks to include one-way tracks on both sides of the streets in order to allow full and complete desire lines for the cycling citizens.
2011 Rank: None
The Copenhagenize Report: With the expansion of the Copenhagenize Index to 150 cities in 2013, Utrecht rocked right into a solid 3rd place. A splendid city in which to ride a bicycle, Utrecht is a world-leader among smaller cities for showing what it possible regarding bicycle traffic.
The 640,000 people in the Metro area, as well as the city itself, enjoy a premier network of bicycle infrastructure and fantastic usage levels. Videos of Utrecht's bicycle rush hours have served to place the city on the bicycle culture map for a wider audience and city is a must to visit for planners from around the world.
Copenhagenize Fixes: Like Amsterdam, Utrecht's placement on the Index is well-deserved but it is largely due to it's status quo as opposed to any significant efforts to increase the level of bicycle traffic.
With urbanization on the rise, the city needs to move forward in order to accommodate more cycling cities and really establish themselves as leaders of the future, not just the present.
2011 Rank: 2
The Copenhagenize Report: Copenhagen stays at number 2 in this year's Index. From an urban design perspective, Copenhagen is second-to-none when it comes to a well-designed and uniform bicycle infrastructure network. Nobody believes the politicians anymore when they say they are aiming for 50% modal share.
Nevertheless, the Bondam Effect continues to influence the city and a great number of bicycle infrastructure projects are underway. A whole series of bicycle/pedestrian bridges over the harbour, the continued work on a network of bicycle superhighways and completing missing links like Gothersgade have all contributed to the score and bonus allocation. All good, but Copenhagen is hanging on to 2nd place by a whisker.
Copenhagenize Fixes: If Copenhagen's current lack of clear political leadership on the bicycle front continues, the City will see itself under threat on the list. Plans for a 1950s-style car infrastructure project - a massive harbour tunnel - will filter more cars into the city centre if completed.
The fact that such an outdated project is even being discussed is not a reassuring sign. City Hall has been increasing car parking, after many years of removing it. It's getting all a little too car-centric for our liking - at the expense of cycling.
The modal share has stabilised, after falling from 37% to 35% due to helmet promotion but if Copenhagen is to continue in its visionary role as benchmark city, commitment is required.
2011 Rank: 1
The Copenhagenize Report: Amsterdam defends the title as the world's most bicycle-friendly city in the 2013 Copenhagenize Index. The city continues to do well in nearly every category. Amsterdam does almost everything right.
What the city lacks in a uniform infrastructure design it more than makes up for with it's impressive saturation of bicycle traffic in the compact city centre. Municipal and national political will contributes to their score, as does having all the required necessities like infrastructure and facilities. The widespread 30 km/h zones are instrumental in slowing the city and keeping people safe.
The cycling atmosphere is relaxed, enjoyable, and as mainstream as you can get. This is the one place on the planet where fear-mongering about cycling is non-existent and it shows. There are few places we enjoy urban cycling as much as in Amsterdam.
Copenhagenize Fixes: As we mentioned in the 2011 Index, Amsterdam could benefit from some creative thinking and innovation to improve cycling conditions and increase the modal share even further.
We love cycling in Amsterdam but it would be more enjoyable if we didn't have to guess what the next stretch of cycle track will look like.
There is more chatter about what to do about the Scooter Scourge and we look forward to some serious action on this front. Amsterdam, like the other Dutch cities on the Top 20 list, coasts to its placement based on status quo more than innovative thinking.
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