Bicycle-friendly cities are those that are most accommodating to cyclists, whether they are recreational bicycle riders or serious bicycle commuters. Cities are thought to be bicycle cities when they:
Encourage cycling as a reliable mode of every day transportation
- Show evidence of smart engineering and planning
- Create a safe and easy environment for cycling
- Educate the community on bicycle safety and laws
- Enforce rules and regulations surrounding traffic and marked lanes
- Contribute to a healthier environment by replacing a significant percentage of auto traffic with bicycle traffic
Bicycle cities can be found around the world. Some of the top bicycle-friendly communities include:
Amsterdam, Netherlands 每 Forty percent of Amsterdam＊s traffic is bicycle traffic, which is why Amsterdam is considered the bicycle capital of the world. In addition to safe bicycle lanes, the city is full of bicycle sheds, racks and even a 10,000 bike garage for parking.
Barcelona, Spain 每 Barcelona offers 100 bike stations where registered users can borrow bicycles at no cost. The city is also working on expanding cycling routes and parking. They celebrate Bike Week annually in May to raise awareness for bicycle safety and to educate people about biking.
Basel, Switzerland 每 Basel is full of well-marked bicycle paths that include their own signals and many left turn lanes. The city offers commuter lanes as well as those that extend outside of the city.
Berlin, Germany 每 Less than half of Berlin＊s residents own cars, so cycling is a way of life in Germany＊s largest city. 2.5 million Euros were channeled to developing more extensive and safer bike lanes throughout the city, and they＊re still working toward a goal of increasing their current 12% bicycle traffic to 15% by 2010.
Copenhagen, Denmark 每 More than 30% of Copenhagen＊s workforce commutes by bicycle. The city＊s extensive bicycle lanes are safe and fast, and many have their own traffic signals. Public bicycles can be used for free (with just a refundable deposit), and the neighborhood of Christiania is car-free.
Groningen, Netherlands 每 57% of travel in Groningen is via bicycle, accommodated easily by the city as it strives to make its roads perfect for cyclists. Groningen invests a lot of money in its cycling initiatives, but less than they believe they would if they were combating heavier auto traffic.
Sandnes, Norway 每 Part of a pilot program to reduce automobiles on the road, Sandnes offers residents a number of bike rental programs as well as a significant bicycling route system.
Trondheim, Norway 每 18% of the population rides a bike to work or school, and Norway is working to increase cyclists to account for at least 8% of all traffic by 2015. The city is the inventor of the bicycle lift, which works like a ski lift to take cyclists up hills.
Beijing, China 每 In China, most people can＊t afford cars, so the bicycle is the preferred method of travel. In recent years, the numbers of autos on the road has swelled, but it is still is quite common to see the roads filled with cyclists. Beijing accommodates them easily with plenty of bike shops for repair and rental, bike signals and dedicated lanes.
Melbourne, Australia 每 Melbourne has an extensive network of city bike lanes and paths and is in the midst of a five-year plan to improve bicycle networks and facilities. The plan also includes education on bicycle safety.
Davis, California 每 Davis was the first city in the US to achieve platinum-level status from the League of American Bicyclists＊ list of bicycle-friendly cities. Home to more bikes than cars, 95% of Davis＊ streets are accompanied by bicycle lanes. Most children in Davis easily walk or ride their bicycles to school, since the city does not have a public bus system.
Madison, Wisconsin 每 Madison hosts a number of annual events to celebrate and promote bicycle riding, and also works to ensure bicycle lanes are provided on every major street. The transportation department recognizes the bicycle as a major mode of transportation and includes bike accommodations in its city planning endeavors.
Minneapolis, Minnesota 每 Home to a new $5.1 million pedestrian and bicycle bridge, Minneapolis has the second-highest number of bicycle commuters in the US, according to the US Census.
Ottawa, Ontario 每 With over 170 km of bike paths and bike lanes on most major roads, Ottawa boasts the highest number of bicycle commuters in North America.
Portland, Oregon 每 A League of American Bicyclists＊ platinum bicycle city, Portland has doubled its bicycling since the 90s. The city＊s extensive network of bicycle lanes includes clear pavement markings, bicycle signals and regular maintenance. 60% of Portland＊s police force patrols via bicycle. With the highest percentage of bicycle commuters in the nation, Portland accommodates them with bicycle parking, showers and storage.
Bogota, Columbia 每 In the 1990s, Bogota set out to reduce the number of automobiles on its roadways by reducing the space allotted for cars, and instead creating bicycle lanes, pedestrian paths, and dedicated space for mass transit. Since then, driving has decreased by a third during rush hour times, and today, only about 13% of Bogota＊s residents even own a car. More impressively, cycling and walking has more than doubled.
Curitiba, Brazil 每 Considered to be the best-planned city in Brazil, Curitiba first started trying to decrease car traffic and increase cycling traffic in the 1970s. The city today has more than 100 miles of dedicated bicycle space and places a strong emphasis on smart planning and alternatives to auto travel.
Is your city a bicycle city? Tell us what makes your city especially bicycle friendly using our feedback form on the right side of this page.