Community, Travel

11 Most Bike Friendly Cities in the World

When I visited giiid’s blog this morning, it’s nice to see that they also use bicycle as transportation, with the high price of gas, I wish I could ride a bicycle here also, but our road is not made for bicycle since we have very few bicycle lane in our area, there is none to get to my work place.  So not surprise that her city, Copenhagen, Denmark is number 3 most friendly cities in the world for bikers, below is a photo from her post Copenhagen pigeons.

Copenhagen photo by giiid at my2008blog.wordpress.com
Copenhagen photo by giiid at my2008blog.wordpress.com

Of course the city that takes the number one spot is where Darly lives, well, not in the same city, but in Amsterdam, which is the capital and largest city of the Netherlands.  Below is a photo from her post City of Bikes.

City of Bikes photo by Darly at Saolao.net
City of Bikes photo by Darly at Saolao.net

I’m kind of surprised that China didn’t make it on the list, might be because the list is for the “most bike friendly’ and not the ‘most bicycle population’ because China has the most population in the world, followed by India, then the United States.  As for bicycle in China, According to the Earth Policy Institute, a Washington-based environmental think tank, of the 130 million bikes manufactured worldwide last year, China made 90 million and exported two-thirds of them. About 9 in 10 bikes bought by Americans are made in China, read the rest of the article Bicycles a mainstay in China.

This is an interesting read, here are the 11 Most Bike Friendly Cities in the World

Biking is a great way to become intimate with a city and get exercise at the same time. There are many amazing cities for biking throughout the world – these gems allow you to explore the city at ease and safely. The 11 most accessible and bike friendly cities are listed below, but these are merely a sampling of the bike friendly paradises that exist throughout the world. (Please scroll to the end of the article for a look at the factors that went into determining this list.)

1. Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam, a.k.a. the bike capital of the world, has 40% of all traffic movements by bicycle. They have created a bicycle friendly city that promotes a healthier, more active lifestyle for its residents. An extensive network of safe, fast and comfortable bicycle routes has been developed, the road safety of cyclists has been increased, a
theft-prevention program was set up as well as the number of bicycle sheds increased.

Amsterdam is undertaking an ambitious capital-improvement program that includes building a 10,000-bike parking garage at the main train station.

Highlights: Designated street lanes and traffic signals. Bicycle safety concerns. Biking is core to its transportation infrastructure. Rent public bicycles. Underground sheds and outside racks, which hold thousands of bikes under guard. Large bicycle culture.

2. Portland, Oregon, USA

Portland has a varied bicycle network that connects all parts of the city. This network has proven successful in dramatically increasing bicycle use. Portland also has a strong bicycle culture where all types of cyclists can find opportunities to enjoy riding a bicycle. Portland’s Create-a-Commuter program is the first project in the United States that provides low-income adults with commuter bicycles as well as a session on commuter safety. The bikes come outfitted with lights, a lock, a helmet, a pump, tool kits, maps and rainwear.

Portland’s bicycle network has grown from 60 to 260 miles since the early 1990s. Bicycle use has quadrupled over the same period without any increase in crashes. The city still has 38 miles of bike lanes left in order to achieve its master plan. But in some neighborhoods bike commuters are as high as 9%.

Highlights:  Extensive on/off road trails, designated street lanes, and traffic signals. Bicycle culture with Community Cycling Center that offers education and encouragement.

3. Copenhagen, Denmark

The city with the sixth-highest quality of life in the world is also home to the world’s most successful community bicycle program. In Denmark practically everybody has a bike, and for many years Copenhagen has been known as ‘the city of bikes’. The city of Copenhagen plans to double its spending on biking infrastructure over the next three years.

Currently 32% of workers bicycle to work and 50 percent say they cycle to work because it is fast and easy. The city’s bicycle paths are extensive and well-used. Bicycle paths are often separated from the main traffic lanes and sometimes have their own signal systems.  Already one city neighborhood, the notorious commune Christiania, is completely car-free.

The city provides public bicycles which can be found throughout the downtown area and used with a returnable deposit of 20 kroner, your money is refunded when you return the bike to one of many racks.

Highlights: Free public bicycles. Streets with dedicated lanes, paths and routes that are either clearly marked or separated from vehicular traffic by curbs. Bike paths and other bike-friendly facilities are a part of the planning of every new or rebuilt road. Large bicycle culture.

4. Boulder, Colorado, USA

Great public programs that help promote safe biking and encourage its use such as Boulder Safe Routes to School pilot program. One school reported that 75 percent of their students walked or biked to school — a 620 percent increase from before the pilot. More than 4,000 people participate in Boulder’s Bike to Work Day.

At least 95 percent of arterials have bike lanes or trails on them. They recently completed two major underpasses, and offers online bike mapping. Boulder has spent an average 15% of its transportation budget on building and maintaining bicycle traffic over the past five years

Highlights: Designated street lanes, traffic signals, and an in depth local bike map. Biking is core to its transportation infrastructure. Boulder’s Bike to Work Day. Education and encouragement.

5. Davis, California, USA

This small city of 65,000 people has over 100 miles of bike lanes and bike paths. 17% of Davis residents commute to work on bicycles.

Davis was one of the first cities in the U.S. to actively start planning for and incorporating the bicycle into its transportation infrastructure. Davis residents enjoy an extensive network of bike lanes, bike paths, and grade-separated bicycle crossings. The flat terrain and temperate climate are also conducive to bicycling. City residents voted to get rid of public school busses many years ago, so many children walk or bike to school.

Davis has a comprehensive local bike map with tips and resources on the back. This map is multi-colored, it is free, and it is distributed through the city, university, and local bike shops. Bicycling is so core to this community’s identity that the city’s logo is a bike. The City of Davis and UC Davis are in the process of establishing a west coast bicycle museum. Davis has more bikes than cars and is the only place to earn platinum status on Bicycle Friendly Community’s list of top cities. The city is about to build a $1.7 million bike-only tunnel under a major road.

Highlights:  Designated street lanes, traffic signals, and an in depth local bike map. Biking is core to its transportation infrastructure. Month-long celebration of the bicycle called Cyclebration in May. The university, UC Davis, bans almost all car traffic. Major development funding. Vigorously Enforced Laws and regulations regarding bicycle use on both bicycles and motorized vehicles.

6. Sandnes, Norway

In 1990 the government decided to start a 4-year pilot bicycle project in order to reduce car traffic and Sandnes was chosen to be one of two pilot towns. The two main goals of the project were to make the town more friendly for cyclists as well as to make more people use the bicycle. The campaign has continued well past the 4 year mark and Today Sandnes has the best facilities for cyclists in Norway.

The public bike system in Sandnes starting in June 1996 as the first city in Norway were you are able to subscribe to a plan of use.

Highlights: Designated street lanes. Biking is core to its transportation infrastructure. Rent or subscribe to public bicycles. Great bicycle parking. Large bicycle culture.

7. Trondheim, Norway

Yes, Norway is 6th and 7th on the list! They have invented the worlds first Bicycle Lift (Trampe) which actually has become one of Trondheims most popular tourist attractions and has become a success.

The bicycle lift carries cyclists uphill. Inspired by the ski lift technology, the cyclists could be pushed uphill without having to get off of the bicycle. Taking into account the topography of Trondheim, it is no surprise that the idea of a bicycle lift was conceived here.

Trondheim is an environmental friendly city that promotes cycling. It has a public bike project were you can rent bikes. 18% of the population of Trondheim is using their bike as a daily means if transport to work or school. Norway aims to raise bicycle traffic to at least 8% of all travel by 2015.

Highlights: Bicycle lift. Designated street lanes. Biking is core to its transportation infrastructure. Rent or subscribe to public bicycles.

8. San Francisco, California

San Francisco is the second most densely populated major city in the U.S, so a core bicycle system is key here and it also is consistently ranked by Bicycling Magazine as a top city for cycling. Bicycling is a popular mode of transportation in San Francisco, with about 40,000 residents commuting to work regularly by bicycle. There are 63 miles of bicycle lanes and paths throughout the city.

The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition endorsed eight candidates for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, and all were elected. The board, which is the transportation authority for the city and county, puts highest priority on pedestrian and cycling needs, followed by mass transit.

With the number of commuters growing, all public transportation has been equipped to carry bicycles, and driving lanes are being converted into bike lanes.

Highlights: Designated street lanes and traffic signals. Biking is core to its transportation infrastructure. Large bicycle culture with some political influence.

9. Berlin, Germany

Berlin is the country’s largest city, and the second most populous city in the European Union. In Berlin where less than half of residents own a car, it has become downright common to ride a bike every day.

City officials pledged to work toward bikes comprising 15% of the city’s traffic by the year 2010. After devoting 2.5 million Euros last year to expanding on the bike lane system they are on track. The city already has 80 kilometers of bike lanes in the wide streets and 50 kilometers of lanes on sidewalks. Cycling has doubled in the past decade, and now the city’s 400,000 riders each day account for 12% of total street traffic.

Online bicycle router BBBike determines the best bike route between two points in Berlin. Just enter your origin and destination point.

Highlights: Designated street lanes, independent bike paths, traffic signals and bike maps. Bike rentals. Events, education and encouragement. Online bike router. Large bike culture.

10.  Barcelona, Spain

On March 22, 2007, Barcelona’s City Council started the Bicing service, a bicycle service for public transport. Once the user has their card, they can take a bicycle from any of the 100 stations spread around the city and use it anywhere the urban area of the city, and then leave it at another station.

Barcelona City Council is working day and night to expand, rationalize and improve the network of routes and cycle paths in the city. The city has created a ‘green ring’ that surrounds the metropolitan area of Barcelona with a bike path. There are currently 3,250 parking spaces for bikes at street level. Barcelona City Council is constructing a new underground car park for bicycles; this forms part of a pilot program to prevent theft and provide security for bicycle users.

In September, deliberately aimed to coincide with Car Free Day, the Sustainable and Safe Mobility Week takes place, in which a whole day is dedicated to the bicycle. Bike Week was held for the first time between May 21 and 26 in 2002. It’s another step forward along the same path that was started by the Festival of the Bicycle , which is integrated into Bike Week. Apart from the festive and leisure activities or the presentation of various projects that are centered around the bicycle, it is a call to use pedal power to get around.

Highlights: Designated street lanes, independent bike paths, traffic signals and bike maps. Activities and events that raise awareness and education for bike safety. Ample bike parking.

11. Basel, Switzerland

The City of Basel is surrounded by a rich agricultural region where fruit trees and grapevines are cultivated and cattle are raised making for beautiful countryside bike tours with clearly-marked networks of bicycle routes and paths that criss-cross both the city as well as the surrounding region.

Basel is a very bicycle-friendly city, with many well-marked bicycle lanes throughout the city, and even traffic signals and left-hand turn lanes for bikes. Special route maps are also available for cyclists.

Bikes can be rented locally from the Rent-a-Bike underground bike park. Besides local commuter bike lanes, there are specific bike trails that connect to other parts of Switzerland. These bike trails are indicated by signs at some intersections.

Highlights: Designated street lanes, independent bike paths, traffic signals and bike maps. Bike rentals. Events, education and encouragement.

17 thoughts on “11 Most Bike Friendly Cities in the World”

  1. A very nice post!

    I have to correct this widely distributed and quoted list, however.

    First, Copenhagen should be nr 3 and Portland behind that (see my second point why that is), based on all the statistics (volume, share, policies, infrastructure, etc).

    Second, not even Amsterdam is the most bicycle friendly city in the world. That spot goes to Groningen (which puts Amsterdam in 2nd, Copenhagen in 3rd, etc), another Dutch city, in the north. A completely car-free center, over 50% of all trips are done by bike, and its bicycle infrastructure is from a different planet. And you also have to know that Amsterdam has the name and fortunate image, but cycling infrastructure in the Netherlands overall (24% of all trips) is better than in the capital (more bikes than people, more length in bike lanes than roads/highways, the entire country is connected for cyclists). Here’s a post about modes share for commuting to work that also puts this in a little perspective (Newcastle (UK), Amsterdam, Netherlands).

    So you know :). I’m not about lists, really, I just enjoy seeing the unstoppable rise of normal cycling in the world.

    Cheers,

    Marc
    amsterdamize.com

  2. That is wonderful Ginger, you are writing so well that it becomes interesting to read about biking in my own country 🙂 I didn´t know that Denmark is nr.3 at the list. Interesting. Maybe I should send you some more bike-related photos.

  3. Hi amsterdamize, thanks for the fact, very interesting indeed. I often wondered about the Netherlands because it rains a lot over there, it’d be difficult to get around in bicycle I would think.

    Hi giiid, glad that you enjoy reading this, it’s very interesting and bike is becoming very popular this day.

    Troy, I’m glad that you find it useful, and thanks for the visit.

  4. It is so difficult for cities to retro-fit themselves for pedestrian-friendly and bicycle-friendly travel, but it is possible to do so over the course of time and with the visionary will of elected officials and the electorate that chooses them in the first place. LINEAR PARKS are the term I give to narrow pieces of land that private, corporate, and municipal entities can concede and develop for such use. Wherever feasible, these narrow strips of land should be developed to render “safe passage” in a car-free zone for pedestrians and bicyclists even if this is for relatively short distances here and there. Cities that plan for a car-free zone at their inner core are the cities that allow their centers to be re-configured for pedestrians and bicycles. Multi-level parking structures built on the periphery of inner cities makes it possible to drive and park close to the inner city and to proceed on foot, by bicycle, or by light rail systems that ideally should be above grade like the “L” in Chicago. Whenever rail is elevated above grade, you avoid all of the dangers and difficulties associated with the right-of-way conflicts between pedestrians and rail cars. San Diego County in California is a perfect example of an entire region that has an ideal climate for year-round bicycling, but there have never been the “big-picture” visionaries in city and county governments who could have promoted the allocation of space and implementation of an infrastructure to facilitate the flow of pedestrians and bicyclists safely throughout the entire county. Places like Australia have the luxury of moving forward with new-found wisdom on this matter when they develop the wide-open expanses of their relatively undeveloped territory. I also hope that China does not rush forward so quickly with its car-oriented infrastructure that it overlooks the need to develop a parallel infrastructure configuration that assures safe, reasonable, and expeditious passage for bicyclists and pedestrians as well! As for America, part of its serious childhood obesity problem would begin to be solved if each community could assure an extensive grid of Linear Parks for our young people to remain safely active and mobile within their own neighborhoods and beyond. The fact that we are compiling these lists of “bicycle-friendly cities” is an indication of how starved we are for places and spaces that are getting it right for activities and motion that should be as normal as breathing itself!

  5. Awesome list, thanks. As a one time resident of Norway, too, I just want to add that every town I saw there seemed fairly bike friendly. I’ll have to check out Sandnes when I return.

  6. I’ll back up Amsterdamize about Groningen. I lived there for two years before moving to Amsterdam. A’dam is wonderful on a bike but Grongingen is simply overwhelming. Most of the downtown is almost impossible to reach by car and the density of bicyclists can be initially overwhelming even for the experienced cyclist.

    Being home to a number of universities and colleges there’s a huge student population in Groningen meaning an absurdly active night life. From about Wednesday to Saturday nights the quantity of happy, drunken cyclists and “student” bikes parked in piles along the strips of bars are comical. After spending a few hours in a pub you often have to dig your bike out from under the pile. Many give up (or forget) and walk home. Do not ride a fancy bike here!

    Groeten,
    Henry

    bakfiets-en-meer.nl

  7. There is a whole new world of bicyclists out there that I’m not aware of, I enjoy reading all the comments and thanks all for your visit. 🙂

  8. Thank you for putting Groningen as the top city on your list! I lived there for a semester in college. Driving a car in the city center didn’t make any sense whatsoever. It was a series of one-way streets that would lead you on a path similar to those footstep sequences in The Family Circus comic strips. The bike lanes were nearly the size of the car lanes. There were hundreds of bikes in view at every corner and on every street. I personally rode my bike for thirty minutes at a fast pace one-way to school in the morning. After school, my usual route lead me through a city park or through the center of the city, so I’d stop for awhile.

    An interesting “fact” I heard while living in Holland (in 2003): In Groningen, every other person has their bike stolen every year. That means 50 percent of the people in Groningen have to buy a new bike annually. BUT in Amsterdam, on average, every person has their bike stolen TWICE per year. That’s nutty. Hopefully those statistics are completely flawed and someone just made them up.

  9. Hi Molloy, thanks for sharing your story, I wish we’ve bike lanes here or in Laos where I recently visited. I think it’s so scary to see young school children riding their bicycle to school on the road shared with motorcycles and cars.

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