With most of today’s modern cities becoming increasingly urbanised it makes less and less sense for cars and the pollution they bring with them to be given priority when it comes to city travel. Some of the most forward-thinking and dynamic cities are those which recognise this and place a strong emphasis on getting people on their bike! Here’s a look at some of the very best active cities and projects designed to reduce cycling injuries through dedicated cycle infrastructure.
It would be churlish to think that just because the people behind ranking the world’s best cycling cities are also based in Copenhagen in any way influences the Danish capital coming top of the list. Copenhagen is now recognised as the world leader when it comes to welcoming cyclists into the city as this is a place where local government has made investment, innovation and improvement its leitmotif. The infrastructure and priority given to those who take advantage of it massively encourages the city’s residents to cycle and this is definitely something that is appreciated and reciprocated with an incredible 45% of people getting to and from work via bike.
Of course Amsterdam is mentioned when it comes to discussing the best cities in the world for cyclists. There is no other city on the globe that is more synonymous with bicycle use than this one. The only reason it doesn’t come out on top in the current rankings carried out by the Copenhagenize Design Company’s index is due to a recognition that the country as a whole seems to be treading water when it comes to improving the infrastructure for cyclists. Holland is a country of cyclists and that seems to be getting taken for granted a little, although the award winning floating suspension bridge in Eindhoven suggests that this might not be true across the board.
This massive urban sprawl covering over 800 plus square miles and home to 13 million people may not strike you as the ideal locale for one of the world’s best cycling cities, and in many ways it isn’t, but the city is making an effort to clean up its act by trying to get people out of their cars. One of the main ways they are doing this is by only allowing people to purchase a car if they can show proof that they are already in possession of an off-street parking spot. Not all that many people actually commute to work by bike due to the large distances involved and the excellent, and highly efficient, mass transit system, but within the city an amazing 14% of trips are made by pedal-power!
South America in general is not a place that is considered to be a hotspot for cyclists, especially its cities, but Buenos Aires is trying to change all of that. In a very short time the powers that be have installed 87 miles of biking infrastructure into the centre of the city, with much of it protected in order to place an emphasis on safety. A 24-hour bike-sharing scheme has also played in a big role in encouraging locals to get around on two wheels instead of four.
Americans love their cars and this is well evidenced by the fact that Minneapolis is the first city in the US to ever appear on the top twenty list from Copenhagenize. The city of Minnesota now has over 120 miles of what they like to call “on-street bikeways” and a decent bike share system to boot. Similar initiatives have also been implemented in Oregon as America finally seems to be appreciating just how beneficial bikes can be to cities and their inhabitants.
Long considered to be Australia’s cycling capital, Melbourne doesn’t appear in the top 20 list of the world just yet but its 135km network of on and off-road bike paths are a cyclist’s dream. Factor in good weather, the flat topography, a car-free path that loops around the centre of the city, and the chances are that with a bit more focus Melbourne could definitely make an appearance on the next list. A special mention should also be afforded to Adelaide as their free bike scheme is definitely one that goes a long way to promoting bicycle use. In Queensland then Brisbane Council has made a lot of effort over the past decade or so to improve cycling infrastructure. The hot and sweaty weather in the summer months does make mass adoption hard but the numbers of cycling commuters continues to rise.
With studies from Denmark reporting 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 16 cents, it should be a no brainer for more cities around the world to start following the lead set by those above. Not only does cycling help to cut back on the pollution caused by cars it also promotes a healthier lifestyle in its citizens. Cycling rather than driving to work where possible is a win-win situation for everybody. So what are you waiting for? Get on yer bike!