The World’s Best Cities for Biking, Ranked

A Copenhagen-based firm has released a list of the world’s top cycling cities.

The World’s Best Cities for Biking, Ranked

A signpost directing bike traffic in Copenhagen, Denmark

Photo by Alicia G. Monedero/Shutterstuck.com

When it comes to biking in cities, not all urban areas are created equal. And thanks to newly released rankings from Copenhagenize Design Company, which works to make biking better and safer around the world, we know which cities are pulling away from the pack.

For the fifth edition of the Copenhagenize Index, published biennially, the company ranked 115 cities around the world across 13 parameters, including biking infrastructure, bike-sharing programs, cycling safety, and gender balance, to turn out a list of the top 20 most bikeable metropolises.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Copenhagen tops the list. Dubbed by AFAR writer Lisa Abend as Denmark’s “capital of cool,” the city even has bike-only bridges and highways, which makes sense—there are more bikes than cars here, and 62 percent of city residents bike to school or work, according to Wired.

open-uri20190708-9648-yu0koc

Vancouver is one of two North American cities on the list.

Photo by Marc Bruxelle/Shutterstock.com

“Cycling is serious business in Copenhagen, and the bike lanes, though plentiful, are jammed with riders who are as intent on getting where they’re going as any New York taxi driver in Seventh Avenue traffic,” writes Abend. “These people have been cycling since they were born, they ride in all kinds of weather, and they have assimilated not only the arcane system of signage, signals, and rules governing bike traffic but also a deep-seated knowledge of when and how to break those rules.”

Following closely behind Copenhagen is Amsterdam. According to the study, the Dutch capital gets major points for refitting the city to better accommodate bikes—think widening bike lanes, redesigning intersections to make them safer, and removing 11,000 parking spots to make room for more bikes, trees, and sidewalks. Utrecht, another Dutch city, takes third place, partly for its ambitious plan to double bike commuters by 2030. Antwerp, Belgium, home to a new bike- and pedestrian-only bridge, and Strasbourg, France’s most bikeable city, round out the top five.

Most of the top cities are concentrated in Europe, where countries have a stronger history of bike culture. There are no U.S. cities on the top 20 list, although two North American contenders do appear: Montreal and Vancouver tied at number 18. Only one South American city—Bogotá, Colombia—made the cut, and for the first time, thanks to its push to build better biking infrastructure. Here’s the full list of the top 20 ranked cities for cycling:

  1. Copenhagen, Denmark
  2. Amsterdam, Netherlands
  3. Utrecht, Netherlands
  4. Antwerp, Belgium
  5. Strasbourg, France
  6. Bordeaux, France
  7. Oslo, Norway
  8. Paris, France
  9. Vienna, Austria
  10. Helsinki, Finland
  11. Bremen, Germany
  12. Bogotá, Colombia
  13. Barcelona, Spain
  14. Ljubljana, Slovenia
  15. Berlin, Germany
  16. Tokyo, Japan
  17. Taipei, Taiwan
  18. Montréal, Canada, and Vancouver, Canada
  19. Hamburg, Germany

>>Next: 10 of Europe’s Greatest Cycling Routes

Katherine LaGrave is a Deputy Editor at AFAR focused on features and essays.
More From AFAR