15 November 2010

World's Most Liveable Cities 2010

Upside Down Harbour
I was perusing Monocle Magazine's list of the World's Most Liveable Cities. Here's the top 20 for 2010.

01 Munich
02 Copenhagen
03 Zurich
04 Tokyo
05 Helsinki
06 Stockholm
07 Paris
08 Vienna
09 Melbourne
10 Madrid
11 Berlin
12 Sydney
13 Honolulu
14 Fukuoka
15 Geneva
16 Vancouver
17 Barcelona
18 Oslo
19 Montreal
20 Auckland

We'll always say that the bicycle is the most important and effective tool in our liveable toolbox. It's interesting to consider that all the cities in blue have respectable levels of Citizen Cyclists gracing their streets and cycle tracks.

The cities marked in orange are working at increasing levels of bicycle traffic. At the very least we hear a lot about them in internet buzz. The three remaining are probably thinking about it, considering it, working a bit at it, but we don't feel the vibrations too often on the bicycle culture Richter scale.

Point? Bicycles feature prominently on the urban landscape of liveable cities. They are an integral part of the fabric of many of these cities.


bentguy said...

Sydney is working on increasing the levels of cycling traffic? Someone should tell the Department of Trauma Service at Sydney’s Royal Prince Alfred hospital. They have come out with a new "scary study" that looked at patients over 16 years of age who suffered head injuries related to bicycle accidents between 1991 and 2009.

According to one of the authors, “Three per cent of people who wear a helmet could end up with head injuries, whereas 13 per cent who don’t wear a helmet will end up with severe head injuries.” I'm not sure but these percentages must be of those who had head injuries of some sort and not of the general cycling public.

They are recommending that the mandatory helmet law stay in place. I can't see how this will help get more cyclists on the road in Sydney.

Do you have any insight into this study?

Marco te Brömmelstroet said...

couldn't agree more! With the list (yeah Münchenierung) and with your observations! But apparently, these guys don't see Amsterdam as a city.....

A strange outlier in your theory, otherwise.

Anonymous said...

when i first saw Honolulu on the list a year or two ago, I wrote to the editors of Monocle to protest. you can't ride your bike in Honolulu, but it's one of the world's most livable cities? come the **** on.

there is almost no other combination of factors -- even perfect scores on every other possible measure/category -- that could make a 'no bikes' place livable, much less 'very livable' or better.

stupid. just detracts from the credibility of that survey. if Monocle wants to be taken seriously in the 'livability rankings' arena, they're going to have to drop Honolulu out of the Top 1000.

Alisdair said...

Yeah, I'm from Melbourne and I thought we needed improvement on our cycling paths. We still do. But! Then I rode through Sydney, it was pretty awkward, hard to believe really with all the infrastructure around the harbour, I expected a bit more really. The city itself is no piece of cake to ride through either, but then again, Melbourne is hard. At least they got it right in Docklands.

Amsterdam and just about any place in the Netherlands deserves a mention. Maybe you're right, maybe too small. Any city outside of Amsterdam I found nicer to get around, the north is amazing with its pretty towns and connections. It's all just made for cycling.

Dave Kinkead said...

@bentguy the study is pretty uncontroversial in finding that if you are in an accident, you are better off wearing a helmet all things equal.

Just like you're better off wearing one as a motorist, pedestrian or superhero crime fighter if you happen to be in an accident.

Still, I'd rather not be in an accident and sadly, helmet laws make this more likely.

The comparison rate in the study was 180ish helmeted riders vs 30ish non-helmeted riders. 3 of each group had serious head injuries.

kfg said...

I can't find the study, only news reports of the study, which, while purporting to contain actual author quotes, are mathematically utter gobbledygook.

Things to note, the only cyclists studied were those 287 admitted to hospital with head injuries and whose helmet wearing was certain. The authors were doctors. There was no mention of the types of helmets involved, or where the helmets were impacted, which is critical information. More to the point there was no mention of the cause of the accidents. There were also statements indicating a considerable amount of pro-helmet bias. The study was released to counter two recent studies conducted by actuaries which concluded that helmets are a small factor in reducing cyclist injuries, the largest factors by far being improving infrastructure and removing drunk drivers from the road (I wonder what sort of cars the doctors drive?).

In other words, it isn't helmets that make cyclists safe, it's automobiles that harm them. Corral the bulls and cut the horns off them, rather than make everyone wear "bull proof suits" so the bulls may run wild.

Going back to a 10 year old Sydney study it was found that all head injury fatalities (in the study period) were caused by being struck by an automobile. The victims were wearing modern style road helmets which simply broke apart on impact.

Brittle fractures do not offer much, if anything, in the way of protection. Think about it; if someone chucks a fastball at your head, what do you want between you and them to prevent impact, a trampoline - or a sheet of window glass?

kfg said...

@Dave - It is only uncontroversial if you have an a priori bias to believe that a helmet must offer some protection, for some unspecified reason, just because, ya know, it's a HELMET. It's hard and shit, or . . . something.

If, however, you view a helmet on a head as a dynamic system with certain innate properties it is quite controversial indeed.

Things to note; the first generation of motor sports helmets designed around solid engineering principles resulted in NO reduction in driver head injury related fatalities. Simply putting a "helmet" on a head turned out to be useless and it took them a few years to figure out why. (There's an opposite viewpoint parallel in Medieval history; when helmets became impervious to swords and arrows, the hammer found a resurgence as a battlefield weapon. Whack him upside the head and that sucker is going down and staying down).

The effectiveness of motor sports helmets is greatest only when combined with head restraint devices.

You can die of a cuncussive head injury without any head impact at all.

You already have, as a birthright, a helmet that has been tested and refined by billions of "subjects" against actual death to give optimized protection while retaining necessary head functions.

Think about that last particularly hard.

okocicle said...

oh Madrid... hope see you soon, turning in blue!

cargo and recumbents bikes power!


Carlos Okocicle

Anonymous said...

As it usually happens with this type of lists, there's always room for disagreement. I can't understand how Madrid came tenth, even ahead of Berlin. I completely disagree, particularly as regards bicycles. Believe me, Madrid is one of the least bicycle-friendly cities in Europe. I know what I´m talking about. I suffer it on a daily basis.

Frits B said...

@Marco: Could it be that outsiders recognize Amsterdam for what it really is, one big mess, something Amsterdammers themselves steadfastly refuse to accept?
Just kidding :-)

shuichi said...

Ah-, I agree with No.4 of Tokyo. I had lived in Tokyo for four years about about twenty years ago. I didn't think there were no green and I thought there were only tall buildings in Tokyo. But it was wrong, I had found many parks fullfilled with many green trees everywhere. Then, now I often visit Tokyo for business. I also find green everywhere. (Of course, it is needles to say, there are many sophysticated buildings,shops,hotels and safety environment as a big city.) Thanks.

ZA said...

I agree with the earlier comment about Honolulu. For all its charms, it's a great deal worse than any other part of that beautiful state, and suffers the classic American problems of congestion & sprawl with inadequate transit. To say nothing of how Honolulu probably couldn't feed itself anymore if it were cut off from air and ship freight. The "livability" quotient diminishes further when you realize the ongoing social and economic problems that place is struggling with.


Honolulu is a lot more than Waikiki Beach, and is inseparable from everyone and everything else on Oahu.

kfg said...

The very idea of having to live in Honolulu makes me break out in hives. On the other hand I can't quite figure the spread between Munich, Zurich and Montreal as I think of them as roughly equivalent cities, so what do I know? I only pass through, I haven't tried to live there.

Sue 'sans' helmet said...

RPA survey attached to my post on my 'freedom cylist' blog:

- same old same old (yawn!)

mama bicycle said...

One more,Portland.
I found a very interesting website by Mia Birk yesterday. She seems to live in Portland in the US and has fought many things to promote cycling to the city.I have not known the detail of her activities until now, but Portland seems to be the most friendly city for daily bicycle transportation in the US and She have greatly contributed to the activity. It is a pity that Portland was not counted in them. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Department of Trauma Service at Sydney’s Royal Prince Alfred hospital:

It looks as if they used a statistical sleight of hand; they combined moderate and severe head injuries in their analysis. They probably couldn't get a significant correlation between non-helmet-use and severe head injury because they had so few cyclists with severe head injury in their dataset.


Why are medical people generally so bad with statistics, does anyone know? In this case, I suspect it's fiddling the numbers, but generally doctors really are bad at interpreting statistical trends.

paulh1412 said...

well, just some words about Vienna because you painted it blue.

Figures show that daily bike traffic is only 5% of totally travels. The new green-socialistic coalition set their goals to improve bicycle paths and infrastructure. That should help increase the bicycle daily trips to 10%.
As you may know public transport is very good with a dense grid of trams, subways, s-bahn & busses in Vienna. But service is struggling. Wit about 33% of all travels made by public transport preasure is very high and specially trams are problematic.
So let's see if the future will bring a shift from the car & public transport to improved cycling!?

Christian said...

Well - its good to read somewhere that oslo is working to increase cycling in the city - but its very difficult to experience it in practice.No lack of plans for the past decades - Oslo City council have launched bold plans for increased cycling in 1977, 1990,1999 and in 2006. Non have been implemented. From 2006 to 2008 some 1.1 km of bikepath have been established! Everyday biking in Oslo is more like waging a guerilla war...

Carl said...

@Mama Bicycle,
If you click the link, it's a list of 25 cities, not 20, and Portland is #22.

no bike for madrid said...

It will be ages before watching goverment actions to have more bicycles riding on the streets of Madrid.
They just want expensive cars.
Take the last big public project:
They completely stopped Serrano avenue circulation, for I think almost a year, to build huge underground parking lots.
You have to look at the lame (one way!!) bike lane. Its kind of an insult, and of course, a big demonstration on Madrid's Mayor opinion on urban bike culture.

Roberto said...

Madrid is not a liveable city at all. I've lived there for 5 years, I'm still travelling there daily to get to work, and I think I know what I'm talking about: traffic madness, train and tube disruptions any day, no pedestrian respect to each other, and NO BIKES.

I've been twice to Oslo during 2009 (both in summer and winter) and compared to Madrid it could be considered the most liveable city in the world. There's a public transport system that just works, you can leave your bike anywhere without any fear of being stolen, and people seems to show respect about their city (every street was so clean that you could eat right from the floor).

Even London could be considered more liveable than Madrid: it has the same congestions, but people at least says "sorry" when they push you on the tube.

I'm sorry I can't understand how this list is made. If it's just for laughs why not dropping Rome at the top...