When it comes to bike-friendly cities, the Danes are hard to beat. In Copenhagen bikes now outnumber cars 5 to 1, investment in bike-friendly infrastructure is high, and the city’s bike modal share (the percentage of people choosing to cycle for transport) continues to rise.
Since 2011, Copenhagenize Design Company has taken on the task of comparing how bike-friendly different cities are, measuring their attitudes and actions on a biennial city index. Last year’s index ranked 150 cities around the world, with Copenhagen taking out top spot, followed by Dutch cities Amsterdam and Utrecht.
To rank the cities, a few factors are considered: top-notch bike facilities, a strong commitment to advocacy, social acceptance and a perception of cycling as safe.
Here are a handful of cities that scored highly on the index. If you’re partial to a little travel on two wheels, perhaps they’ll be your next city adventure.
The capital of Spain’s Andalusian region isn’t just a dreamy city to walk through. Its efforts to champion cycling – including a broad network of infrastructure and investment in a bike share system – have seen the city jump from 0.2% bike modal share to 7% in a few short years. (To put that in context, Australia’s most bike-friendly city, Canberra, has a 2.8% bike modal share.)
Sitting at 10th spot in Copenhagenize Design Company’s index, Seville has dropped a few spots from the 4th place it occupied in the previous index. However, what’s encouraging is that the city’s gamechanging approach to cycling is now being looked at by other cities across the region.
2. Buenos Aires
Making its first appearance in the index, Buenos Aires is the highest ranked city in South America and positively leads the charge when it comes to creating a cycling-friendly metropolis. Over the last few years, it has rolled out a bike share program and over 87 miles of bicycle infrastructure across the city.
The creators of the index have declared Buenos Aires as the city to watch – and while it’s very much a work in progress, it’s exciting times for those looking to freewheel it through this vibrant Argentinian city.
Another newbie to the list, Minnesota’s largest metropolis sneaks into the top 20 at number 18. While the United States as a whole hasn’t traditionally been strong in this space, many US cities are making real progress in shifting the dial from car domination, with Minneapolis emerging as a true leader.
There’s a bike share program in place, 120 miles of on-street bikeways and some serious advocacy happening at an official level. For a city often best known for its bitter winters, it’s now getting mentions of a more positive variety.
Since the late ’60s and early ‘70s, the Slovenian capital has been paving the way for earning its number 13 ranking in the latest index. Adopting Copenhagen-style cycling paths across the city back then helped cement a cycling culture and develop a future framework for a bike-friendly city. Currently, Ljubljana enjoys a 12% bike modal share, and was voted the 2016 European Green Capital.
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