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The Score

Copenhagen continues to inspire and lead as the world’s most bicycle-friendly city. But don’t take it from us – take it from the 41,900 people that cycle along Queen Louises Bridge on any given weekday. Focused on a carbon-neutral future, Copenhagen continues to leverage the timeless efficiency of the bicycle, maintaining the lead this year with sustained investments and unrivaled statistics. – James Thoem, Director at Copenhagenize

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The Lowdown

Copenhagen took the lead from Amsterdam as the world’s most bicycle-friendly city back in 2015. And while the Danish capital retains the top spot for 2019, it is only by a super thin margin this time around. Competition on the podium is fierce, with Amsterdam and Utrecht hot on the trail. But Copenhagen clinched the lead this year with sustained investments and unrivaled statistics.

The numbers observed over the past two years speak for themselves: 62% of inhabitants’ trips to work or school by bike. Copenhageners cycle 1.44 million kilometres every day. More than €40 per capita in bicycle infrastructure investments. Four bicycle bridges built or under construction. 167 kilometres of new regional cycle highways. And as we saw in the 2018 municipal elections, parties running on a car platform don’t stand a chance. Now we just need someone to remind the Lord Mayor.

Over the past decade Copenhagen has been continually stitching itself together, connecting the city with 12 new bicycle and pedestrian bridges. Since 2017 alone, the city has opened Alfred Nobel’s Bridge, connecting the new neighbourhood of Sydhavn, and broken ground on three new major bridges, like Lille Langebro and Dybbølsbro. The later of those will have 5.5 metre wide bike lanes in each direction to accommodate more than 22,000 daily bicycle riders.

And on the regional level, investments totalling €20.6 million has seen the creation of eight new routes, totalling more than 167 kilometres. These cycle highways are an expanding network of comfortable infrastructure with improved wayfinding and lighting, wide cycle tracks, repair stations, and timed intersections stretching more than 20 kilometres out from the city centre. And based off 2018 evaluations, the improvement of conditions along these routes has increased bicycle traffic up to 68%, with 14% of new bicycle commuters switching over from the car. Keep an eye on this initiative as another seven routes are already financed and will be built out over the coming years.

The momentum that Copenhagen has built up, especially over the past twenty years, has kept the city at the front of the pack. But the numbers are clear, it will always be a tight race between Copenhagen, Amsterdam, and Utrecht.

The bicycle is the obvious choice in a major city like Copenhagen, regardless if your focus is on your own health, or you want to be responsible and remove congestion, air pollution and CO2 emissions. I am really happy that more commuters have opened their eyes to this. But we need to break the code and get more of the leisure trips from cars to bicycle and public transport.
Karina Vestergaard Madsen
Acting Mayor for Technical and Environmental Affairs

The Fixes

A series of political decisions, at all scales, have put the future of Copenhagen’s cycling reputation in question. Municipal spending limits imposed by the national government have, and will continue to have, an impact on infrastructure expansion. Meanwhile, strong political leadership on sustainable mobility has been absent since the latest election, resulting in a lower priority to invest in cycling. Lower in priority even than car parking. The City will need to find a way out of this mess if it wants to continue to serve as a global inspiration in years to come.