21 July 2009

The World's Most Bicycle Friendly Cities - from Copenhagenize.com

Scanning the internet there seems to be a wide range of information about which cities are the world's most bicycle friendly. Many of them are opinion pieces and others use various criteria in making up the list.

Here at Copenhagenize we figured we'd just look at the hard facts. How many trips are made by bicycle in various cities? If there are many people choosing the bicycle in a city then that would indicate that cycling infrastructure is in place, that the culture is bicycle-friendly, that there is a will to transform cities into more liveable places and that cycling is, or has been, promoted positively.

We looked at the stats for OECD countries since these are traditionally cultures where the car is accessible to the citizens and is a main competitor to the bicycle.

In the interest of brevity, we chose to feature cities with percentages that are in double-digits. There are large cities and small on the list, from Tokyo to Davis, USA.

Copenhagen - 55% [41% city wide]
Gronningen, Netherlands - 55%
Greifswald, Germany - 44%
Lund, Sweden - 43%
Assen, Netherlands - 40%
Amsterdam, Netherlands - 40%
Münster, Germany - 40%
Utrecht, Netherlands - 33%
Västerås, Sweden - 33%
Ferrara, Italy - 30%
Malmö, Sweden - 30%
Linköping, Sweden - 30%
Odense, Denmark - 25%
Basel, Switzerland - 25%
Osaka, Japan - 25% [est.]
Bremen, Germany - 23%
Bologna, Italy - 20%
Oulu, Finland - 20%
Munich, Germany - 20%
Florence, Italy - 20%
Rotterdam, Netherlands - 20-25%
Berne, Switzerland - 20%
Tübingen, Gemany - 20%
Aarhus, Denmark - 20%
Tokyo, Japan - 20% [est.]
Salzburg, Austria - 19%
Venice (and Mestre), Italy - 19%
Pardubice, Czech Republic - 18%
York, UK - 18%
Dresden, Germany - 17%
Basel, Switzerland - 17%
Ghent, Belgium - 15%
Parma, Italy - 15%
Bern, Switzerland - 15%
Davis, USA - 15%
Cambridge, UK - 15%
Graz, Austria - 14%
Berlin, Germany - 13%
Strasbourg, France - 12%
Turku, Finland - 11%
Stockholm, Sweden - 10%
Bordeaux, France - 10%
Avignon, France - 10%

I may have forgotten some cities that deserve a place on this list. Feel free to let me know and I'll add them.


Rob said...

Hoo. I just had to look this up since Mayor Daley likes to make a big deal of his efforts to increase bicycling.

Modeshare (2000): 0%. Change: 80%.

Hmm. Percentage to the nearest tenth would have been nice.

Seattle and San Francisco: 2%. New York: 0%.


I actually live in the western 'burbs, and am the only one I've seen that seems to have a bike commute. So that's 1/50,000, not including illegal immigrants not allowed to have drivers licenses...

Megan said...

Hi, Mikael--

Could you share the source for these figures?


Mikael said...

the sources are the city councils/transport departments of the respective cities.

Erik Sandblom said...

Malmö and Linköping are both at 30%.

Cycling often has a higher mode share for commuting than for all journeys. 40% of commutes in Malmö are done by bicycle.

Erik Sandblom said...

Rob, San Francisco is now at 6 %.


townmouse said...

York has an 18% cycling mode share (and 12% commuting rate) according to the CTC's Safety in Numbers figures

Kim said...

Here in Edinburgh a local cycling campaign group has claimed that cyclist make up 20% of commuter traffic.

Sadly the city councils own figures show cyclists are only 3.1% of all commuter traffic, however this is an increase from 1.8% five years ago.

Personally I look forward to the day when it is genuinely 20%.

christopher said...

How about Portland, where 4% of trips are by bike, 8% commute by bike, bike traffic is up 145% in 10 years, and the goal for 2030 is 20% of all trips by bike.

Mikael said...

thanks for the comments. portland is doing great, but i had to stop at cities with double digits, otherwise the list would be five or ten times as long.

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure you missed a few double digit cities. Last I heard, Santa Cruz and Santa Barbara were right up there with Davis, and have much larger non-university populations. I've heard Victoria BC is around 12% too, but gets missed a lot because of the way it's divided among several municipalities.

jmaus said...

i would just remind folks that mode split is just one of many factors that can make a city feel "bike-friendly".

I want to see a list of the percentage of people in a city that have ridden a bike fully naked.

or how about the average number of bike events that happen in the city per year?

or, how about the number of businesses, per capita, that are bike-related?

here's another one... how about the number of elected politicians who are supportive of bicycling?

thanks for the list Mikael. neat to see all the percentages lined up next to each other.

Dave Reid said...

What stands out is how poorly U.S. cities rank... Lots of work to do here in the states!

Melbourne Cyclist said...

Just out of curiosity, how do those numbers tally against the flatness of the cities? That's my no.1 bike-friendly criteria, nice and flat ;-p

And in seriousness, nice list, thanks - it's interesting to see the mix of countries in there. I'm looking forwards to Melbourne making it into the double digits - we're getting there, with an increase in cyclists each year, but not there just yet...

Anonymous said...

Some observations:

I do not think that percentage of commuter traffic is in itself a good metric of a bicycle culture. Rather than indicating a cyclist's paradise it may merely indicate a working poor Hell.

Quite the contrary, I think a better metric for a true bicycle culture is the percentage of trips made in Evening/Sunday Go to Meeting clothes (whatever those clothes happen to be in the relevant culture)

The unfair advantage of the only American city on the list has already been alluded to (and there is also its geography and climate). I will point out that Ferrara has an unfair DISadvantage. As a smallish,dense, walled medieval city it may lack a certain amount of bicycle traffic because it is, at its core, PEDESTRIAN friendly. Bicycles are an alternative to walking rather than an alternative to motor vehicle travel.

Implying no disrespect to the Dutch and Danish cities on the list, I would bet that if the metric were the percentage of VEHICULAR trips made by bicycle Ferrara would shoot up and perhaps even top the list.

If only it weren't so flat. Bicycling in flat cities is boring.


Amsterdamize said...

That's an impressive list, makes me smile, obviously ;).

Not trying to bore you all, but I got a few more from NL:

Utrecht (pop 170.000) - 33%
Delft (pop 96.000) - 35%
Groningen - 60% (data from dec '08)
Houten (pop 50.000) - 58%

Other notes:
Amsterdam: now more bike than car trips, and still rising.

Ingo said...

Tübingen, Germany: 20%.

source: http://www.svtue.de/l8mimages/svt-mobilitaetssteckbrief.pdf

This is especially interesting as Tübingen almost does not have any bike paths or bike lines and a terrain that has lots of hills - normally supposed to be a clear counteragent against bicycle use.

Anonymous said...

Oulu, Finland, is reported to be at 20 %. I would guess it's less in the coldest months of the year, but still in the double digits. The population of Oulu is 137000, so I'm not sure if it counts as a city. Some of the places on the list are not much bigger, though. Oulu, at latitude 65°01′N, should work as a refutation when people say that some place is too cold and rainy for bicycling. They've steadily increased bicycling to the current level over the past twenty years.

A lot of Finnish towns are around the double-digit limit. My home town Turku is at 11 %, which is apparently close to the national average.


Niki Lea said...

One more shout out for Victoria, B.C., Canada. I'm not sure of the percentage total, but I do know that I am one of many, many cyclists who ride to work everyday. In my office of seven people, three of us commute by bike. That's a small sample, for sure...but works out to 43%. :-)

Here's an example of how bike culture is on the rise in my city:

Niki Lea said...

Ah-ha! Found some statistics...

According to the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition (they cite their sources at StatsCan & the BC Ministry of Transportation):

Number of bike shops in Victoria: 25
Number of car dealerships in Victoria: 22
Percentage of people who walk or bike to work: 17%
Number of participants in "Bike to Work Week" 2009: 6,851

Guilherme Henrique said...

Perhaps Freiburg-Germany is missing, i just can't find a proper number.

Hobbes vs Boyle said...

The latest numbers (2008) for Berlin are 12 %. The 10% are from back in 1998. I can't give you a proper source but this number has been mentioned in several press releases.

More generally, I would take all these numbers with a grain of salt. I'm sure the methodologies differ vastly between the different locations...

David said...

Not sure the numbers for Seoul South Korea, but recent changes in attitudes to urban planning regarding bicycling are positive.
For a report on the history and changes http://cycleseoul.blogspot.com/2009/07/seoul-cycle.html

sociedadsostenible said...

Sevilla ( south of Spain) in two years, has created 77km Bike lanes. Now are under construction 30km more.

In 2007 was put 2500 bikes of JCDecaux in Seville.

in 2006, In sevilla the percentage of bikes was the 0,5%, very poor.

after the construction of bike lanes arround the city centre and principal avenues, is the 8% of the total of the city (not the greater Seville).

in 2009 is increasing too much, but i have no percentages.

People here and in Spain dont believe in bikes, but Seville and Barcelona is changing toooooo much.

0,5 to 8% in two years are created a lot of bike lovers, and bike haters... but its better than not to speak about sustainable movility.

Greater Sevilla has 1.400.000 people.

now, in 2009, the line 1 underground is finished.

imagine, 1.400.000 people going by car in 2006...

in 2007 and 2008, the underground and tranway are finished, lines 2 3 and 4 are under construction. the city centre is for pedestrians (in 2006 cars was the kings in the centre)

Sevilla has been changed a lot in two years, im no doubt that its a revolution.

in 2011 Seville will be the city with the Velocity´11.

i think you can to travel here and see the changes.

I´m from the Acontramano (Asociation of urban ciclyst of Seville.
my e-mail:

We put a lot of videos of copenhaguenize in www.ciclofilia.org , our web site where we help to the people that want to go by bike in Sevilla, offering news, telephones, maps, and help in general. we are passed too in 2006 with 100.000 visits/month to 400.000 - 500.000 now in 2009.

you can put that Seville now is 8% bikes. we hope up to 20% in the next future.

we love your blog.
bike revolution.

Best regards.


Anonymous said...

Hey, there is also Dresden, Germany with 17%. But bicycle-friendly...? Well... That's a different matter altogether. CPH for example ;-)

eddie spaghetti said...

no one has counted down here in key west, but off my veranda, I'd say more bikes than cars.


Sandro said...


In Greifswald, Germany 44% people go by bike.
source http://www.greifswald.de/pressemitteilungen/mitteilung-lesen/article/greifswald-ist-fahrradhauptstadt-deutschlands.html?tx_ttnews%5BbackPid%5D=1&cHash=d709927c7b

RReppy said...

Seattle's 2% figure misrepresents how friendly this city is to bicyclists - a rarity in American cities, to be sure. Seattle has an excellent ferry system to rural islands ideal for biking, with wonderful views of the Olympic mountains and the volcano, Mt.Ranier. Public transport is bike friendly, and many old railway lines have been converted to bike paths. Bike Seattle, if you ever have the chance!

aronman said...

i dont know the modal data of firenze, but it was amazing to see its bike culture.
bicycles everywhere, and really in the italian chic style.


Andreas Poulsson said...

I think Vancouver , Canada deserves to be on the list in as much as great efforts have been made to make it more bike friendly with an extensive network of bike routes throughout the city as well as taking over a lane on a very busy commuter bridge for cycling. While the city still has a long way to go to catch up with cities like Amsterdam and Copenhagen, it should be recognized for its efforts. Andreas Poulsson, Vancouver, Canada

tedsfiles said...

In Sydney (Aust) Bicycle trips account for about 1% of trips per day.
Go us!! We're right behind you guys. Let me know when you start up a list of the top 10,000 cities in the world.

Rick said...

wow interesting info for cyclist :)

hanscas said...

only one u.s. city on the list. shameful. and los angeles slowly creeping up from the bottom. a bikers paradise today

hanscas said...

only one u.s. city on the list. shameful. and los angeles slowly creeping up from the bottom. a bikers paradise today

Richard said...

There should really be some Chinese cities on the list. Many are around 20% still.

David said...

I would think that Kyoto would have a high rating, much higher than Tokyo or Osaka. Kyoto is a cyclist's wet dream (apart from the times when they randomly collect hundreds of parked bikes with trucks and impound them, that blows).

Anonymous said...

and Strasbourg in France?

Ryan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ryan said...

My previous link didn't seem to work, so hopefully this will (it's a PDF):


Bremen appears to have a bicycle rate of 23%.

(Basel & Berne are posted twice in the list)

Emma- International Freight said...

Great list. I would really like to know how did you found about this statistics? Copenhagen is really doing amazing. But it seems that USA has to go for long to enlist on top five.

Kent said...

Eugene, Oregon is second in the US for bicycle commuting with 10.8% taking to the two-wheel mode of transpotation (Boulder, Colorado is first with 12.3% commuting by bike).

Mikael said...

Thanks for all the comments.
Kent... do you have a link to the source of those stats for Eugene and Boulder?

Only Davis, CA is on the list from the US at the moment.

Anonymous said...

I would say that the US is way behind in general, but of cities (as opposed to towns, or what have you), Minneapolis, MN (which is on most maps, but people in other countries have still probably not heard of it) is second highest after Portland, and growing in mode share. 2008 stats claim 4.8%, though I haven't been able to find any more recent. This is especially impressive, I think, because, unlike Portland, Minneapolis is generally covered in snow and ice (not to mention extremely cold) between November and March. It's a pretty good place to bike, with a few dedicated paths, a lot of bike lanes, and not much topography. The only issue is really the cold/snow/ice. But even so, it's got a long way to go from 4.8% to be on par with European cities.

Richard said...

English travel-to-work data (2001 census) has the following over 10% (all excluding work-at-home):

Cambridge 28%
Oxford 16%
York 13%
Hull 12%
Gosport 11%
Boston 11%

Edward said...

Great stats, looks like Europe is making good quality continental cars but at the same time possesses a great bike culture, it is hard to understand how can this happen, manufacturing cars but the people are cycling? At present, Japan seems to be the only country to be in the bike friendly list. There is a lot of work to be done if we were to promote a decent urban cycling scene in South East Asia or even in Asia. The motor vehicles seem to be the only mode of transport, public transportation is poor and where does urban cycling stand? Malaysia, the country where i stay, cycling is only known as a recreative sports, something people do on weekends. However, bike events are getting more but only for sports related activities. Although occasionally we have some small critical mass or charity ride (a few hundred cyclists riding on roads), bike commuting is virtually and reality non-existent. I guess Asia is at least 50 years behind Europe in terms of urban cycling.


Anonymous said...

Hannover, Germany 13% (2002)

Thomas said...

nice compilation!
However, data sources would be helpful. The figures are hardly comparable.
E.g. you list two figures for Basel - in the national travel survey the mode share is only 11% though (and then it depends on whether you assess it based on trips, or stages...)

Does anyone know of compilations that are methodologically consistent - even if much less complete than this?

Anonymous said...

using this info for apartment shopping....

Anonymous said...

León, Guanajuato,Mexico is on wikipedia as having 38% of total trips by bike.

klopmasjien said...

My city is second on the list! Woohoo!

joerg_schweizer said...

Bologna bicycle share is NEVER at 20% !! Instead it is approximately 6%

Also Ferrara is slightly overestimated too. Even the 27% are based on 800 phone interviews...not the most representative way to do statistics.

These numbers are NOT reliable!!!

Anyway, the bicycle has not been a mode in the 2001 census, therefore reliable data cannot be expected from Italy unless a city decided to make their own interviews (for which in most cases there is NO MONEY).

Svend said...

I'm surprised that Aarhus scores that much lower than Copenhagen, though I haven't cycled much in Copenhagen. I've cycled a lot in Aarhus though, and there seem to be a lot of bikes (a lot of students).

I've also cycled a lot in Cambridge, and I would say Aarhus has a lot more bikes (and is definitely a _lot_ more cycle friendly). 5% difference seems quite low, but I guess there might be more students per person in Cambridge after all...

Katerbar said...

http://www.epomm.eu/tems/ gives more numbers on modal share of cities worldwide. You can fill in numbers of cities, too, but be sure to give a serious source

Amir said...

Where is Tel Aviv? It beats at least one third of the cities on the list and given that the number of bicycle commuters jumped by 50% last year alone it will surpass half the list within 5 years