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 just makes sense in cities. Investment in bicycle infrastructure is a modern and intelligent move for a city to make. There is a plethora 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 our previous Indices shows that cities are very interested in measuring their progress around bicycle transportation issues. The Index is a way for cities across all regions of the world to see how their efforts compete with global leaders in bicycle urbanism, adding a bit of a competitive edge to a very worthy cause.
We start by assessing cities across the globe above 600,000 inhabitants, eliminating those with an extremely low or unreported bicycle modal share. From there, we continue to narrow the field by selecting the best from each country. Here we follow a selection process relative to country population size. For larger countries, a higher number of cities pass through to the next round of evaluation. Smaller countries, on the other hand, have fewer cities in the final evaluation. All in all, these steps whittle down the enormous list of cities to be evaluated to 118. We realize this process means fewer Danish and Dutch cities make the Top 20 overall – but we’re okay with that.
Nearly every country has their example, a beautiful coastal or university town that is a bicycle-friendly oasis in the desert of a car-centric nation. And while we love the Davises, Münsters, and Pesaros of the world, they simply aren’t large enough to qualify for the ranking. On top of that, the competition for a spot in the Top 20 is fierce. There are numerous cities nestled around the 20-or-30-something position that many would dub bicycle-friendly, but they just didn’t make the cut this time around and thus are not published online.
The Top 20 cities listed in the Index are the world’s most bicycle-friendly cities for 2019, not necessarily the most bicycle-friendly cities humanly possible. From Copenhagen to Bogotà, there’s still plenty of room for improvement. And the fact that most in the Top 20 still have a long way to go before people of all ages and abilities feel safe riding on an everyday basis is a bit disappointing to be honest.
To be honest, if we were you, we'd be crying foul here too. We recognize that this just looks a little too coincidental. And while, yes, we are HUGE fans of Copenhagen and most of the urban transformations the Danish capital has achieved in the last couple decades, it just comes down to numbers. Show us a city that has invested €39.50 per capita in bicycle infrastructure, built 12 new bicycle and pedestrian bridges in the last 10 years, and has achieved a bicycle modal share of 62%, and we’ll reconsider.
While we thoroughly evaluate more than 100 cities, we publish only the Top 20. That’s it. If a city isn’t in the Top 20, look to those that are in order to understand where the absent city fell short.
There are other bicycle-friendly city rankings out there. Though no other listing brings such a holistic approach to a global perspective. And with our international team we are well-positioned to keep tabs on recent developments in cities the world over.
For consistency’s sake, we find its best if the research is conducted by our team. If you would like us to have a closer look at your city, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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