A city of cyclists offers people social, environmental, health and economic benefits equaling 23 cents per every kilometer cycled. Many cities acknowledge and champion cycling's importance. Others don't.
Every two years the Copenhagen Design Company, under the guise of the Copenhagen Index, releases a list of 20 cities. These cities are, according to a long and arduous study, the most bike-friendly places in the world. Each of the following cities advocates for cyclists via programs, facilities, infrastructure, safety and urban planning.
You can click here for the Copenhagen Index criteria.
20. Montréal, CanadaPrevious Rank: No. 20 2 of 21
The only North American city on the list and one of only two outside of Europe, Montréal narrowly retains its spot in the top 20. Once a city of bike innovation, it has since plateaued, and with the competition on the rise in both the U.S. and Canada, it'll be interesting to see whether this Québécois city can hang on in 2019.
19. Oslo, NorwayPrevious Rank: Unranked 3 of 21
Oslo is the "darling of the 2017 Index" due to a meteoric rise that lands it inside the top 20 for the very first time. Called the Next Big Bicycling City in 2016, Oslo's Bicycle Agency has been crucial to this improvement, creating a city that has the most people employed to work on cycling as transport. Oslo, "a re-emerging bicycle city trying to find a balance between the spandex warriors and the regular citizens who are embracing the bicycle for transport," according to the index, has also created The Oslo Standard, which outlines the city's desire to upgrade and modernize.
18. Helsinki, FinlandPrevious Rank: Unranked 4 of 21
After making it on the inaugural list in 2011, Helsinki has floated just outside the top 20 in the years to follow. But 2017 marks the Finnish city's return to the list thanks to its recently launched and already-successful bike share program.
17. Hamburg, GermanyPrevious Rank: No. 19 5 of 21
Mostly by keeping with the status quo rather than trying to improve upon its current infrastructure, Hamburg still managed to jump two spots in 2017. With the most successful bike share program in Germany, the city often viewed as being more similar to Copenhagen and Amsterdam than any of its other in-country counterparts.
16. Nantes, FrancePrevious Rank: No. 7 6 of 21
Dropping a whopping nine spots to No. 16 in this year's index, Nantes is one of many French cities to make this list for 2017. Of course, Nantes' slide isn't necessarily the fault of the city, itself. "The bicycle urbanism storm has been downgraded to a stiff breeze," due mainly to other cities just being more innovative.
15. Munich, GermanyPrevious Rank: Unranked 7 of 21
After dropping off the list in 2015, Munich is back, checking in at No. 15 thanks to its "efforts to improve city life and using the bicycle as a primary tool to make that happen," according to the index." With good signage, communication and a plan to implement 14 bicycle superhighways over the next few years, we wouldn't be surprised to see Munich continue its upward climb in 2019.
14. Seville, SpainPrevious Rank: No. 10 8 of 21
Dropping four spots from No. 10 in 2015, Seville has taken a step back in terms of bicycle innovation due to stagnation. However, it appears as if the Spanish city is ready to jump back in the game, with a new bicycle-positive government and its citizens more than willing to ride.
13. Paris, FrancePrevious Rank: No. 17 9 of 21
The second of four French cities on the list, Paris is by far the one with the greatest political support for improving the quality of life for citizens. However, Paris' downfall has been the inability to put its many goals and plans into action.
12. Vienna, AustriaPrevious Rank: No. 16 10 of 21
"After years of cautious baby steps, it looks like the city is accelerating its efforts," according to the index. With a plethora of projects—including a cargo bike share system and subsidies for citizens who want to buy one—the jump four spots from No. 16 was an obvious one for this Austrian city.
11. Barcelona, SpainPrevious Rank: No. 11 11 of 21
Barcelona's mayor, Ada Colau, once made a promise about cycling urbanism that is finally coming to fruition. The length of bike infrastructure is up 20 percent from the time of the last index and over 40 miles of roadways dedicated to cyclists are being built.
10. Berlin, GermanyPrevious Rank: No. 12 12 of 21
Previously ranked No. 12, the two-spot jump is in part due to bike activism. The Cycling Referendum brought to the city council showed how cycling can be a sustainable form of transportation for many years to come.
9. Tokyo, JapanPrevious Rank: Unranked 13 of 21
Only the second Asian city to ever land on the list, Tokyo, which will host the 2020 Summer Olympics, is the fastest growing city in terms of cycling innovation. "Every statistic about cycling in Tokyo you hear is impressive and quite stunning," according to the index, as the city appears well on its way to standing alongside the likes of Amsterdam and Copenhagen.
8. Ljubljana, SloveniaPrevious Rank: No. 13 14 of 21
Known as the Green Capital of Europe in 2016, it's not a surprise that this Slovenian city made a five-place jump to No. 8 on this year's list. "Not content on resting on its laurels," according to the index, the cooperation between both advocacy and politics has been a catalyst for the city's rise—and is something most others lack.
7. Antwerp, BelgiumPrevious Rank: No. 9 15 of 21
Jumping back to No. 7, Antwerp's claim to fame is its bike share program, which includes modernly designed bike racks around the city, temporary bike parking facilities for large events and expanded parking solely for bikes at Central Station.
6. Bordeaux, FrancePrevious Rank: No. 8 16 of 21
France's third city on the list, Bordeaux continues to slowly close the gap on its higher-ranked brethren. "The city appears to have rounded a corner and is looking at bicycle urbanism more seriously than ever before," according to the index. Furthermore, it has taken serious steps to potentially removing cars from some of its major bridges, dedicating it only to bikes, pedestrians and buses.
5. Malmö, SwedenPrevious Rank: No. 6 17 of 21
Hopping up a spot from 2015, Malmö is Sweden's only representation on the list. What sets this city apart, though, is its handful of vastly unique bike-inspired infrastructures around town, including the Cykelhuset —or Bicycle House—Bicycle Hotel and a bicycle ferry that travels between Malmö and Copenhagen.
4. Strasbourg, FrancePrevious Rank: No. 4 18 of 21
Remaining steadily at No. 4 on the list, Strasbourg continued to be France's highest-ranking bike city. With plans to create a network of bike superhighways that connect neighboring towns and suburbs, Strasbourg takes one more step towards becoming that cycling utopia we all dream of.
3. Amsterdam, NetherlandsPrevious Rank: No. 2 19 of 21
Once a two-time leader of the list, Amsterdam dropped to No. 3 on this year's index. However, it still achieved the highest baseline score. What sets this popular Dutch city back is its lack of innovation and investment, as well as a recent rise in scooter popularity.
While the city has more bike friendly plans in the works, they have yet to be put into action. But, after everything, the index does maintain that "there is only one Amsterdam and there will never be another."
2. Utrecht, NetherlandsPrevious Rank: No. 3 20 of 21
Moving up a spot from 2015 and overtaking previous champion Amsterdam, this is the first of two Dutch cities on the updated list. Despite being a smaller city compared to the likes of Paris and Montréal, Utrecht has made "serious investment in bicycle urbanism."
While "bicycle streets" are common in many of these cities, this city is home to the longest in the world, sitting at six kilometers—with plans for more in the future. And where parking spots for cars are the hot commodity in the U.S., Utrecht is working towards adding over 33,000 parking spots for bikes by 2020—because the 12,000 spots that exist now just aren't enough.
1. Copenhagen, DenmarkPrevious Rank: No. 1 21 of 21
Copenhagen now matches Amsterdam with the most appearances atop the list as it collects its second consecutive No. 1 ranking in 2017. The Danish capital city is a cut above the rest, with bicycle infrastructure and facilities investments topping $150 million over the past 10 years.
More recently, 16 new bicycle bridges have been installed or are in the works and a whopping eight have opened since the release of the last list in 2015. "Copenhagen is slapping them up like they are flower pots. Filling in all the missing mobility links for bicycle transport," according to the index.