After Amsterdam took the title in the first two editions of The Copenhagenize Index in 2011 and 2013, the Danish capital matches the feat by retaining the title in the 2017 Bicycle Friendly Cities Index.
First and foremost, we are impressed by the investment and the innovation. The city has invested over €134 million over the past ten years in bicycle infrastructure and facilities.
There are a whopping sixteen new bridges for bicycles (and pedestrians) built or under construction. Eight of those have opened since the 2015 Index and four more are financed or under construction. Seriously. These are BRIDGES. For BICYCLES. Copenhagen is slapping them up like they are flower pots. Filling in all the missing mobility links for bicycle transport.
Since 2015 alone, the City has completed the Havneringen / Harbour Ring bicycle route allowing citizens to cycle along the whole inner harbour, piloted a new Green Wave system that detects cyclists, launched digital traffic congestion signs to improve flow through the city and opened new bicycle superhighway routes.
The city hit the headlines last year when data showed that more people were entering the city center on bikes than in cars. Indeed, 62% of the citizens ride a bike daily to work or education in the city - only 9% drive cars.
In short, there are very few places in the world where innovation is prioritized as much as Copenhagen and a city council is so committed to modernising their transport. Add to that the fact that the City is Best in Class when it comes to gathering data and using it to plan for the future.
The numbers show that it will always be a tight race on paper between Copenhagen, Utrecht and Amsterdam but on the ground, Copenhagen has a tailwind that every other city can envy.
Where to go from here? Copenhagen may be a highly-designed and complex bicycle city but there is still work to do. The new, digital traffic signs tell their tale - congestion on the cycle tracks - even the widest ones - will become a problem unless the City reallocates more road space for the dominant transport form in the city.
Copenhagen desperately needs to figure out how to stem the tide of motorists that invade the city from the suburbs each day - people who don’t even pay taxes in Copenhagen get subsidized asphalt paid for by the locals.
In November 2017, the municipal election is already lining up to be Bikes vs Cars, with the right-wing parties gearing up for a return to the car-centric 1950s.
Copenhagen’s leadership role needs to be cemented. Oslo, Helsinki and Paris are pioneering a return to quality city life with plans to reduce car traffic, Copenhagen needs to get off its laurels and maintain the momentum.