The Criteria for the Copenhagenize Index

The Copenhagenize Index gives cities marks for their efforts towards reestablishing the bicycle as a feasible, accepted and practical form of transport. The interest in taking the bicycle seriously as transport once again continues unabated around the world. Every city used to be bicycle friendly before planners and engineers started to change the paradigm and plan for cars and relegate bicycle users, pedestrians and public transport users to third class citizens. Now those cities around the world who are taking up the challenge and modernising themselves by implementing bicycle infrastructure, policy, bike share systems, etc. - as well as restricting car use - are the cities we all look to for New Century inspiration. The ranking system was developed in 2011 together with James Schwartz from The Urban Country. Inspiration was gleaned from rankings like Monocle's Liveable Cities Index and rankings produced by The Economist. In short, cities are given between 0 and 4 points in 14 different categories. In addition, there is a potential for a maximum of 12 bonus points awarded for particularly impressive efforts or results. In the case of a tie, the city with the highest baseline score is ranked higher. The 14 parameters are effective at determining the bicycle friendliness of any given city, showing what's in place at the time of ranking. The bonus points allow us highlight extra efforts that are difficult to see in the parameters. For example, a city may score down the middle on politics because the mayor and other politicians are promising infrastructure. Bonus points can assist in determining the level of the political will and the scope of the proposed work. Once the infrastructure starts being built, the city will score higher in Infrastructure next time around.

The 14 Parameters

How is the city's (or region/country) advocacy NGO(s) regarded and what level of influence does it have?
Rated from no organised advocacy to strong advocacy with political influence.

Bicycle Culture:
Has the bicycle reestablished itself as transport among regular citizens or only sub-cultures?
Rated from no bicycles on the urban landscape/only sporty cyclists to mainstream acceptance of the bicycle.

Bicycle Facilities:
Are there readily accessible bike racks, ramps on stairs, space allocated on trains and buses and well-designed wayfinding, etc?
Rated from no bicycle facilities available to widespread and innovative facilities.

Bicycle Infrastructure:
How does the city's bicycle infrastructure rate?
Rated from no infrastructure/cyclists relegated to using car lanes to high level of safe, separated cycle tracks.

Bike Share Programme:
Does the city have a comprehensive and well-used bike-sharing programme?
Rated from no bike share programme to comprehensive, high-usage programme.

Gender Split
What percentage of the city's cyclists are male and female?
Rated from overwhelming male to an even gender split or more women than men cycling.

Modal Share For Bicycles:
What percentage of modal share is made up by cyclists?
Rated from under 1% to over 25%.

Modal Share Increase Since 2006:
What has the increase in modal share been since 2006 - the year that urban cycling started to kick off?
Rated from under 1% to 5%+.

Perception of Safety:
Is the perception of safety of the cyclists in the city, reflected in helmet-wearing rates, positive or are cyclists riding scared due to helmet promotion and scare campaigns?
Rated from mandatory helmet laws with constant promotion of helmets to low helmet-usage rate.

What is the political climate regarding urban cycling?
Rated from the bicycle being non-existent on a political level to active and passionate political involvement.

Social Acceptance:
How do drivers and the community at large regard urban cyclists?
Rated from no social acceptance to widespread social acceptance.

Urban Planning:
How much emphasis do the city's planners place on bicycle infrastructure - and are they well-informed about international best practice?
Rated from car-centric urban planners to planners who think bicycle - and pedestrian - first.

Traffic Calming:
What efforts have been made to lower speed limits - for example 30 km/h zones - and generally calm traffic in order to provide greater safety to pedestrians and cyclists?
Rated from none at all to extensive traffic-calming measures prioritising cyclists and pedestrians in the traffic hierarchy.

Cargo Bikes and Logistics:
Is the city embracing the potential of cargo bikes - both for private citizens and businesses?
Rated from no focus on cargo bikes to a strong cargo bike and logistics culture.


Why don't you rank all cities?
There are over 4000 cities in the world with a population over 100,000. If we spent three months working on THIS Index, imagine how much time we would need on 4000 cities. We would love to do it, but it’s just not feasible. Therefore, we select key cities in each region in order to provide a solid overview of the state of the bicycle urbanism nation.

How do you choose the cities you rank?
It’s a tough process, believe us. We would love to do loads and loads of cities, but even though we first developed the Index for use in our company, it is basically a non-profit affair so we make some calls regarding which cities to rank. It would be fun and interesting to rank every city in one country, for example, but as this is an international ranking we thought it important to spread it out.

We aim to include cities from all regions in the world as much as possible. Choosing cities that have populations over 600,000 in the metro area and adding certain cities that may not fit that profile but have a regional or national profile that makes them relevant (for example Malmö or Ljubljana). For the 2017 edition of the Index we ranked 136 cities, across all continents.

Yeah, but what about XXXX city?! It's totally bike-friendly?! How can you not rank it?!
See above.

Wait… Copenhagen is #1 and it’s the Copenhagenize Index. Hmm.
You probably said that with a Dutch accent, didn’t you? Funny, we didn’t hear a peep from you when Amsterdam was at #1 for two consecutive Indexes. Fortunately, the company name is irrelevant to the final ranking, since we are professionals.

Where's the whole list?
We publish the Top 20. That’s it. If a city isn’t in the Top 20, you can read about the cities that are, and figure out why a city isn’t on the list. The Index was developed as a tool for our company to use.

WTF! I live in XXXX city and there's no way it's bike-friendly!
Okay. Thanks for sharing. Applying a sober ranking system eliminates the personal perception that is often fueled by emotions that run high. If we did a ranking based on the perceptions of individuals, it wouldn't be very credible. Also, nobody says you have to agree with us.

What’s the purpose of the Index?
Back in 2011, a discussion arose at Copenhagenize Design Co. about which cities really are the best cities for urban cycling. 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 bicycle makes sense in cities. Investment in bicycle infrastructure is a modern and intelligent move for a city to make. There is plenty of research that shows the social, economic, environmental, and health benefits from urban cycling. With rising urbanisation, our cities need modern mobility solutions and the bicycle proves time and again that it can offer results.

The success of the previous Indexes shows that cities are very interested in measuring their progress around bicycle transportation issues. The Index is a way for cities across all regions to see how their efforts compete with global leaders in bicycle urbanism, adding a bit of a competitive edge to a very worthy cause.

Who’s involved in making the Index?
Producing the Index is a joint effort between Copenhagenize Design Company's 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