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<< Back to: ICLEI e-News | issue 11, December 2007 - January 2008

ICLEI Members named in the 11 Most Bicycle Friendly Cities in the World

As determined by Virgin Vacations, eight ICLEI Members are listed in the 11 most accessible and bike friendly cities in the world.  

Those ranked that are ICLEI Members are described below.

1.    Amsterdam (Netherlands)

2.    Portland (Oregon, U.S.A.)

Portland has a varied bicycle network that connects all parts of the city.  This network has proven successful in dramatically increasing bicycle use.   Portland also has a strong bicycle culture where all types of cyclists can find opportunities to enjoy riding in a bicycle.  Portland’s Create-a-Commuter program is the first project in the U.S.A. that provides low-income adults with commuter bicycles as well as a session on commuter safety.  The bikes come outfitted with lights, a lock, a helmet, a pump, toolkits, maps and rainwear.

3.    Copenhagen (Denmark)

The city with the sixth-highest quality of life in the world is also home to the world’s most successful community bicycle program. In Denmark practically everybody has a bike, and for many years Copenhagen has been known as ‘the city of bikes’.  The city of Copenhagen plans to double its spending on biking infrastructure over the next three years.  

Currently 32 percent of workers bicycle to work and 50 percent say they cycle to work because it is fast and easy.  The city’s bicycle paths are extensive and well-used.  Bicycle paths are often separated from the main traffic lanes and sometimes have their own signal systems.

The city provides public bicycles which can be found throughout the downtown area and used with a returnable deposit of $US 4 (20 kroner), your money is returned when you return the bike to one of many racks.

4.    Boulder (Colorado, U.S.A.)

Great public programs that help promote safe biking and encourage its use such as Boulder Safe Routes to School pilot program.  One school reported that 75 percent of their students walked or biked to school - a 620 percent increase from before the pilot.  More than 4,000 people participate in Boulder’s Bike to Work Day.

At least 95 percent of arterials have bike lanes or trails on them.  They recently completed two major underpasses, and offers online bike mapping.  Boulder has spent an average 15 percent of its transportation budget on building and maintaining bicycle traffic over the past five years.

5.    Davis (California, U.S.A.)

This small city of 65,000 people has over 161 kilometres (100 miles) of bike lanes and bike paths.  17 percent of Davis residents commute to work on bicycles.

Davis was one of the first cities in the U.S.A. to actively start planning for and incorporating the bicycle into its transportation infrastructure.  Davis residents enjoy an extensive network of bike lanes, bike paths, and grade-separated bicycle crossings.  The flat terrain and temperate climate are also conducive to bicycling.  City residents voted to get rid of public school buses many years ago, so many children walk or bike to school.

Davis has a comprehensive local bike map with tips and resources on the back.  This map is multi-coloured, it is free, and it is distributed through the city, university, and local bike shops.  Bicycling is so core to this community’s identity that the city’s logo is a bike.  The city of Davis and UC Davis are in the process of establishing a west coast bicycle museum.  Davis has more bikes than cars and is the only place to earn platinum status on Bicycle Friendly Community’s list of top cities.  The city is about to build a $US 1.7 million bike-only tunnel under a major road.

6.    Sandnes (Norway)

7.    Trondheim (Norway)

Trondheim has invented the world’s first Bicycle Lift, which actually has become one of Trondheim’s most popular tourist attractions and has become a success.

The bicycle lift carries cyclists uphill.  Inspired by the ski lift technology, the cyclists could be pushed uphill without having to get off of the bicycle.  Taking into account the topography of Trondheim, it is no surprise that the idea of a bicycle lift was conceived here.

Trondheim is an environmentally friendly city that promotes cycling.  It has a public bike project where bikes can be rented.  18 percent of the population of Trondheim is using their bike as a daily means to travel to work or school.  Norway aims to raise bicycle traffic to at least eight percent of all travel by 2015.

8.    San Francisco (California, U.S.A.)

San Francisco is the second most densely populated major city in the U.S.A., so a core bicycle system is key her and it also is consistently ranked by ‘Bicycle Magazine’ as a top city for cycling.  Bicycling is a popular mode of transportation in San Francisco, with about 40,000 residents commuting to work regularly by bicycle.  There are 101 kilometres (63 miles) of bicycle lanes and paths throughout the city.

The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition endorsed eight candidates for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, and all were elected.  The Board, which is the transportation authority for the city and country, puts highest priority on pedestrian and cycling needs, followed by mass transit.

With the number of commuters growing, all public transportation has been equipped to carry bicycles, and driving lanes are being converted into bike lanes.

9.    Berlin (Germany)

Berlin is Germany’s largest city, and the second most populous city in the European Union.  In Berlin where less than half of residents own a car, it is common to ride a bike every day.

City officials pledged to work towards bikes comprising 15 percent of the city’s traffic by the year 2010.  After devoting $US 3.6 million (2.5 million Euros) last year to expanding on the bike lane system they are on track.  The city already has 80 kilometres of bike lanes in the wide streets and 50 kilometres of lanes on sidewalks.  Cycling has doubled in the past decade, and now the city’s 400,000 riders each day account for 12 percent of total street traffic.

Online bicycle router BBBike determines the best bike route between two points in Berlin.  Just enter your origin and destination point.

10.    Barcelona (Spain)

On 22 March 2007, Barcelona’s City Council started the Bicing Service, a bicycle service for public transport.  Once the user has their card, they can take a bicycle from any of the 100 stations spread around the city and use it anywhere in the urban area of the city, and then leave it at another station.

Barcelona City Council is working hard to expand, rationalize and improve the network of routes and cycle paths in the city.  The city has created a ‘green ring’ that surrounds the metropolitan area of Barcelona with a bike path.  There are currently 3,250 parking spaces for bikes at street level.  Barcelona City Council is constructing a new underground car park for bicycles; this forms part of a pilot program to prevent theft and provide security for bicycle users.

In September, deliberately aimed to coincide with Car Free Day, the Sustainable and Safe Mobility Week takes pace, in which a whole day is dedicated to the bicycle.  Bike Week was held for the first time between 21- 26 May 2006.  It is another step forward along the same path that was started by the Festival of the Bicycle, which is integrated into Bike Week.  Apart from the festive and leisure activities or the presentation of various projects that are centred around the bicycle, it is a call to use pedal power to get around.
11.    Basel (Switzerland)

Factors that went into determining the list include criteria with regards to engineering, encouragement, evaluation and planning, education, and enforcement.  For these criteria and more information, please visit The Bicycle Friendly Communities Campaign at www.bicyclefriendlycommunity.org.