The Copenhagenize Bicycle Friendly Cities Index 2017

We are excited and proud to release the The Copenhagenize Index 2017 - the world's most comprehensive inventory and ranking of bicycle-friendly cities. This is the fourth Index since we started the bi-annual ranking in 2011. As with the previous versions, it was a long, arduous process but it was, of course, inspiring and thought-provoking. One thing is certain - we are always surprised.

Every year, the Copenhagenize Index evolves. A few things have changed with the 2017 version. We have expanded the number of cities that we rank to 136. Up from the 80 we ranked in 2011. While we add and remove cities on occasion, the data set remains solid. We have, however, added one new parameter this year. Cargo Bikes and Logistics. Cargo bikes are becoming a game-changer for city life and logistics.

Producing the Index is a joint effort between our global offices, and nine members of our team at Copenhagenize Design Co. were involved in the making of this years edition.

At our Copenhagen Office: CEO Mikael Colville-Andersen, Marie Mistiaen, James Thoem, Max Tristram
At our Brussels office: Clotilde Imbert
At our Barcelona office: Jordi Galí Manuel, María Elisa Ojeda
At our Montreal office: Katerina Ryabets
Graphic design: Zane Kraujina

Thanks to James Schwartz from The Urban Country for helping us, back in 2011, with the development of the ranking system.

The 2017 Index

As with the three previous Indexes, this year offers up more surprises. We always think we have a pretty good idea of what the results will be, but cities continue to shine brighter and surprise us. Copenhagen stays on top - matching Amsterdam’s feat of two consecutive first places. Utrecht dazzles by nudging past Amsterdam into second place. It’s always a tight three-horse race at the top.

There was a lot of movement on the rest of the list. Nine of cities on the 2015 Index moved up while three were bumped down. Tokyo and Munich return to the fold, as does Helsinki, which featured back in 2011. Montreal clings tenaciously on to 20th spot as North America’s sole representative. Minneapolis was forced to cede its spot - as was Buenos Aires - but that is simply because other cities are moving faster.

Every year dishes up a bicycle urbanism darling and this year it is Oslo. Roaring up the Index from mid-table and occupying 19th. A city that shows what political vision and investment can do.

The list remains a largely European affair but we see amazing things happening in North America. It is only a matter of time before we see more cities from Canada, the US and the rest of the Americas step into the limelight.


The return of the bicycle in global cities continues unabated. Every two years we see how dynamic the ranking is, with cities rising and falling. After four versions of this Index, we see cities that continually linger below the Top 20. Waiting in the wings. We want nothing more for such cities to take the leap.

Some of the cities are New York, Stockholm, London, Bogota and Tel Aviv. We see that they are poised but there is not enough solid action compared to the cities who make it onto the list.

Some cities have been in the Top 20 before, like Rio de Janeiro and Budapest but they struggle to make it back.

In 2015, Minneapolis and Buenos Aires took the Index by storm, only to slip back under the radar this time around. We want nothing more than to see more North American and South American cities take the bull by the horns and move up into the spotlight.


It is fair enough if you’re wondering where Eindhoven went. Each time around we make minor adjustments to the city list and we felt it was disproportionate to have three cities from a small country. So we are sticking with Utrecht and Amsterdam. We would love to rank every city in the world but if we did the list would be nothing but Dutch cities accompanied by Danish and some German. Hardly a fair representation of the global situation.

In 2017, we see Dublin exit stage left. After many years of progress, the city has stagnated and, to be honest, disappointed. Buenos Aires and Minneapolis wowed us in 2015, but other cities now have the momentum. We look forward to their return.

Why This Index?

Early in 2011 a discussion arose at Copenhagenize Design Co. about which cities really are the best cities for urban cycling. Professional curiosity was the catalyst for developing this Index. We work with cities around the world and we wanted to be able to give them a score in order to determine the best and most effective method for reestablishing the bicycle on the urban landscape.

The Index was originally meant to be a tool for internal use in the company but we quickly realised that the Index was perhaps worth releasing to the public. The scoring system and the criteria, of course, remain unchanged. We only publish the Top 20, since we use the Index in our work.

The success of the previous indexes shows that cities are very interested in measuring their progress around bicycle transportation issues. The overwhelming response we received about the 2011 Index was so encouraging that we decided to continue to dedicate staff time to the Index--and each year it’s released, we’re completely satisfied with the hard work we put into it. It’s worth every minute.

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. Studies from Denmark tell us that for every kilometre cycled, society enjoys a net profit of 23 cents, whereas for every kilometre driven by car we suffer a net loss of -85 cents. With rising urbanisation, our cities need modern mobility solutions and the bicycle proves time and again that it can offer results.

Enjoy the Copenhagenize Index 2017.

Mikael Colville-Andersen - CEO, Copenhagenize Design Co. - and the Copenhagenize Team
Copenhagen, 14 June 2017

Copenhagenize Design Company

Copenhagenize Design Company is a leading urban design consultancy specialising in all matters relating to re-establishing the bicycle as transport in our cities. Our services include planning, infrastructure, design, and communications. From our offices in Copenhagen, Brussels, Barcelona, and Montreal, our team of planners, designers and architects advise cities and governments in how to work towards a more bicycle-friendly landscape. We see the bicycle as being the most powerful tool in our urban toolboxes to start the transformation and modernization of our cities. When it comes to urban cycling and life-sized cities, we approach every job from a human perspective- using design, anthropology, sociology, and rationality as our points of departure.

Current client cities include; Detroit, Toronto, Long Beach, Almetyevsk, Strasbourg.


  • Wired Magazine