Bicycling is hip, healthy, and good for the polar bears. More and more people are taking a ride every day, going to work or just for recreation. Many cities are feeling the bike and are busy launching all sorts of initiatives to support the two-wheeled paddle machine.
A comprehensive research report by Dutch moving platform ScanMovers was recently compiled to determine The 100 Best Cities in the World to Ride a Bicycle (T100BCWRB). They are hip, love bicycling, and are based in the Netherlands, a country almost synonymous with cycling – so you have to trust that these guys know their ‘biking’.
The platform analysed hundreds of cities over six weeks, searching for important indicators such as bike lanes, bike shops, the share of cycling mode, bike rental companies, bike-sharing schemes, government support, bike fatalities, and the buzz around biking, of course. ScanMovers then shortlisted 100 of the most bike-enthusiastic cities with our beautiful Mother City, Cape Town coming in at number 24 – beating Paris, Berlin and even bicycle haven, Portland USA.
Take a look at the top 10 cities below and visit ScanMovers.com for the full, comprehensive breakdown of their T100BCWRB report and view the remaining 75 top cities around the world who also made the cut.
Top Ten Cities
Amsterdam is the blazing Dutch capital, built in 1275 next to a dike. The city is famous for its high and narrow canal houses, wildflower markets, and sexy red lights lit up behind windows. Amsterdam has been a bicyclist’s best friends for centuries. The city has endless bike lanes, trillions of bike shops, and strong political support. Bikes are so common in Amsterdam that it is an integral part of the city-scape and not having a bike here is almost unheard of. The only worry is the lack of shared-bicycle schemes, which is odd, because back in the good old hippie-times, Amsterdam was the first city in the world to launch bike sharing, dockless and completely free. Even Johnny Lennon rode one. Amsterdam can hardly afford to be sloppy or half-baked anyway; even if they are the winner overall, they only won one category. The city needs to grab a few more first places to firmly secure its position.
Luxembourg City is the capital of Luxembourg, a small country in central Europe where people like to be friendly-liberal. Luxembourg is also famous for having one of Europe’s strongest fortresses in the 17th century and for being the first city in the ScanMovers international expansion plan. Luxembourg takes an impressive second place, just a slim margin under Amsterdam, and there is a very strong political will in the city to make it even better for bikes. Luxembourg is further supported by having the longest bike lanes per square kilometre, the highest number of bike rental companies per 100k, and a very low cyclist fatality rate.
Malmö is a small Swedish city, with Denmark just a short distance away across the Øresund. In fact, Malmö was Danish until 1658. The city is famous for having a beach, one of the very few in ice-cold Scandinavia. Recently, they became famous for bicycling too. They have bike-friendly politicians and a strong bike buzz. The city also has the highest number of bike shops per 10k, so you never have to drive your car very far to buy a bike. Malmö grabs third place in the bicycle modal share category. The only worry is the relatively high fatality rate. Improve that and Malmö may move up.
Equally, on very clear days you can see Malmö from Kastrup Copenhagen Airport. Let’s wave! Copenhagen is furthermore famous for Carlsberg Beer, the Little Mermaid, and of course for being the birthplace of Jesper Bøje Christensen, a well-known harpsichord player. The city has been known as bike-loving for a while. The local government is absolutely fanatic, banning cars from the inner city, and planning ever more bike lanes. It has worked. Copenhagen takes second place in the bicycle modal share category, and impresses with large numbers of bike shops and shared bikes.
Utrecht is a lively Dutch university city, capital of Utrecht Province. It is one of Holland’s oldest cities, giving a name to New Utrecht in Brooklyn and the Utrecht Republic (1852-1858) in South Africa. Utrecht is also famous for wharf cellars, and the Nederlandse Spoorwegen (Dutch Railways) has its headquarters in the city. Utrecht wants to beat Amsterdam to become Holland’s most bike-friendly city, and they are coming closer every year. Utrecht has strong political support, long bike lanes, and a high number of bike shops. Like in Amsterdam, they lack a proper bike sharing scheme. With that in place, they might be able to take on Copenhagen, but Amsterdam still seems out of reach.
Dublin is the capital of Ireland. It is a rather rainy place but got very cool and trendy. They have craft beer, Google, Luas trams, and the world famous rock band Virgin Prunes. Dublin also wants to be bicycle cool and they have a very strong showing in this year’s T100BCWRB, hitting an impressive sixth place out of nowhere. Dublin scores with lots of bike shops, a relatively low bike price, and loads of bike rental companies. Bicycle modal share is still very low, leaving a lot of upwards potential. The locals agree they want more and faster, recently protesting for a 20% increase in spending on cycling and walking.
Rotterdam is famous for being never-as-cool-as Amsterdam, for having the world’s largest port between 1962 and 2005, and for those wuzzy cube houses. The city’s Central Station has an ultracool underground bicycle parking with ramps ready for racing (pictured). Rotterdam is also home of Feijenoord van Teylingen, Holland’s best table tennis club. Rotterdam grabs 7th by having lots of new bike lanes, a high bicycle modal share, and the highest number of bike shops per 10k of the Netherlands. Rotterdam could easily move up with more bike sharing and better bike-safety.
Auckland is the largest city of New Zealand. It was founded by local Maori tribesmen in 1350, growing to about 20.000 citizens in 1840 when the Europans took over. The city still has a cool Maori name: Tamaki-makau-rau, and that indeed does sound a little bit like Auckland. Other personalities are Edmund Hillary, an explorer who organized an expedition to find Yeti (they failed), and the Aukland Sky Tower, with 328 meters the highest tower in the Southern Hemisphere. Auckland is good to bikes as well, scoring with a low fatality rate, a low bike price, a high bike buzz, and an improving bicycle modal share. But there is work to do; there are far too few bike shops and bike rental shops, leaving Auckland vulnerable for an attack by number 9.
Wellington is the capital of New Zealand, but much smaller than Auckland. The city is the world’s windiest city by average wind speed, which is good for sailing but perhaps sub-optimal for bicycling. Wellington is also the world’s southernmost capital, located at 41°17′20″S 174°46′38″E. Their zoo has a famous one-legged kiwi, which is the city’s unofficial mascot. Poor animal. No wings so it can not fly. One leg so it cannot bike. Happily, many other inhabitants of Wellington do like to paddle. Wellington makes it to 9th by having long bike lanes and many bike shops. But they still lack a lot in the important bicycle modal share category.
Seville is a Spanish city founded by the Romans 2200 years ago. It is the “hottest major metropolitan area” in Southwestern Europe, with a summer average high of 35-degree c°. That’s almost of hot to cycle! Seville is furthermore famous for hosting the 1929 Ibero-American Exposition, and even more for being the birthplace of flamenco dancing. Dancing and biking don’t go together very well, but Seville is trying hard to get their folk on bikes. It works: the city has a very high number of bike rental companies, many shared bikes for a city of this size, and a friendly bike-price. Seville has to work on its bicycle modal share and bike lane length and we don’t see much bike buzz yet.