Copenhagenize lists top 20 cycling cities for 2015 and there are a few surprises

mikael counting bikes
CC BY 2.0 Mikael Colville-Andersen counting bikes in Copenhagen/ Lloyd Alter

Every two years, Mikael Colville-Andersen and the gang at Copenhagenize Design Co, his consultancy, release The Copenhagenize Index of Bicycle Friendly Cities. It started in 2011 with a look at 80 cities and this year looked at 122 cities with a regional population of 600,000 or more. The list was in fact developed for their internal use, but they realized that the public would be interested, but only publish the top 20. This is a shame; I would love to advertise how terrible my city is, it might encourage them to clean up their act. It might help them realize the point of promoting bikes, as Mikael notes:

The bicycle makes sense in cities. Investment in bicycle infrastructure is a modern and intelligent move for a city to make. Plenty of research shows the social, economic environmental and health benefits from urban cycling,,, with rising urbanization, our cities need modern mobility solutions and the bicycle proves time and time again that it can offer results.

The index is based on a point score of 0 to 4 for each of 13 categories, including advocacy, culture, facilities, infrastructure, bike share programs, gender split, modal share, change in modal share, perception of safety, politics, social acceptance, urban planning and traffic calming.

copenhagen infrastructureCopenhagen bike infrastructure/ Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

For the first time, Copenhagen changed places with Amsterdam, the previous Number One; evidently Copenhagen is still investing and improving; "The Danish capital remains impressively consistent in its investment in cycling as transport and in making efforts to push it to the next level." whereas "Amsterdam, like most Dutch cities, suffers from their insistence on maintaining a status quo, rather than trying to improve, think modern and take things to the next level."

Montreal bike laneMontreal bike lane/ Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

For North Americans, the big news is that there are now two cities in the top 20, compared to one in 2013. Montreal, the only North American city in 2013, dropped from 13th place to clinging on by its fingernails at 20. The reasons for the drop:

The brilliant visions that have come out of the Plateau borough have failed to replicate across the city at large. Politicians need to force planners and especially engineers need to improve and to plan a network that makes sense for the next 100 years. Again, Best Practice is often ignored, which is regrettable. Better winter maintenance is a must, cycle tracks along main arteries should be a no-brainer (especially with the shocking state of the asphalt on the roads) and feel free to borrow traffic calming inspiration from Paris and Barcelona.

Minneapolis joins the list at 18. It's impressive that such a cold city could do so well in the index, but they are really working hard:

The city boasts 189 km of what they call "on-street bikeways" and 147 km of off-street. The latter is less interesting for urban cycling but Minneapolis is quickly becoming the go-to city in America for building infrastructure. An impressive - for America - modal share helped push them into the Index and we like the political will coming out of City Hall. A respectable bike share system is helping to cement the bicycle on the transport foundation of the city. Seeds have been planted and a garden is growing. America - often content with baby steps - is in desperate need of leadership cities and Minneapolis has emerged as a contender.... It's hard for American cities to think out of the box regarding transport, but somebody has to do it. Why not Minneapolis.

Velibs in ParisVelib bike share in Paris/ Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

I would have thought Paris would get a higher score, given all that we hear about its traffic calming and highway removing and lowering of speed limits, but the Copenhagenize gang is quite critical:

The current Mayor, Anne Hildalgo, has been talking the talk. She boldly declared that Paris will be the best bicycle city in the world by 2020. That won't happen. Sorry. Not by a long shot with the current lack of understanding about planning for bikes and the French traffic engineering culture.

It is all interesting and fun reading; my favorite line is the one about Vienna: "Yes, we know the joke... When the world is ending, go to Vienna. Everything happens 50 years later there. We get it."

Interesting tidbits everywhere in the 2015 Copenhagenize index of bike friendly cities.

Copenhagenize lists top 20 cycling cities for 2015 and there are a few surprises
North America now has two very cold bike friendly cities on the list.

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