The World’s Most Bicycle Friendly Cities

By | February 28, 2010

BicycleBig cities are crowded with cars, so traffic jams and pollution are increasingly big problems. Bicycles provide a cheap, healthy and green alternative to cars or public transport. Most cities try to encourage people to use bicycles, but only a few of them are really good at it. Dedicated lanes, allowing bikes in the public transport, lots of parks are only a few of the things that make bikers to enjoy their journey to and from work.

While not in a strict order, here are the best cities for bike owners.

1. Amsterdam, Netherlands
Amsterdam is definitely the most bike friendly city in the world. Chances are you will see more bicycles than cars at any time. About half of the people use their bikes to go everywhere in the city, not only to work. The bicycle lane network is huge, so you can get almost anywhere in the city in a very safe way. Bicycle parkings are guarded by cameras, so thefts are rare. People are very open to using bicycles.

2. Barcelona, Spain
Barcelona has only a recent history of bicycle culture, but it did this so well that right now it seems people have always used bikes here. Many bicycle lanes have been built, covering a large part of the city center. These are not dedicated lanes like in Amsterdam or Vienna, but the large sidewalks offer enough room for both pedestrians and bikers. There are more than 100 stations where locals can rent bikes. Unfortunately, it is very difficult for tourists to use these, but there are a lot of private companies that rent bicycles.

3. Vienna, Austria
Vienna has very good bicycle lanes in the city center, separated from other traffic. Some lanes are on the sidewalk, but there is enough room for pedestrians too. Outside the city center there are no bike lanes, but traffic is lighter, so it is safe to use your bike on the streets.

4. London, UK
Despite its busy streets and small sidewalks, London managed to create a good bicycle culture. Londoners rely on bikes a lot to go to work, since public transport is expensive and overcrowded. Most bicycles lanes go through London’s many parks. Drivers and pedestrians learned to respect bikers, so it’s pretty pleasant now to own a bike in this busy city.

5. Berlin, Germany
Berlin scores high on the bicycle friendliness. There are almost 150 km of bike lanes in the city, both separated from other traffic and on sidewalks. Bikes are allowed in the underground and in the city trains.

6. Portland, USA
Portland has an excellent bicycle network that covers almost the whole city. More than 400 km of such lanes exist, bumping the bike culture in this city. People use their bicycles mainly for going to work, but also for leisure.

7. Copenhagen, Denmark
Copenhagen is the city where almost everyone has their own bike. With such a high percentage of bike ownership and an excellent bicycle network, it’s no surprise that this Danish city scores very high on bike friendliness. Even if you don’t own a bike, you can rent one for free downtown. One third of the people here go by bicycle to work.

8. Boulder, USA
The city encourages people to use bikes to go to work. Many programs are dedicated to children that go to school by bicycle. Large investments have been made to create bike lanes.

9. Davis, USA
Davis has one of the largest bicycle networks. 160 km of bicycle lanes is a very good figure for a small city of only 65,000 people.

10. Sandes, Norway
Sandes has the best  facilities for cyclists in Norway, due to a pilot program that had chosen this city in 1990 for testing how improvements in bike friendliness increase usage. The pilot was a success. Bicycle lanes have been created all over the city, public bikes can be rented and people are happy using them.

11. Paris, France
Paris has a strong car culture, so drivers were not very happy with bikers at start. Things have changed now, as the city has developed a large public bike program. Dedicated lanes are not as common as in other bicycle friendly cities, but most bikers feel safe among cars.

12. Chicago, USA
Chicago is another city with a strong car culture that is pushing now bicycle usage. The mayor has an ambitions plan to build a bike network and to protect the safety of bikers. Things are progressing well, bicycle culture is developing.

13. Ottawa, Canada
Ottawa offers 170 km of bicycle lanes. Many people use their bikes to go to work. Snow is not uncommon during winter, so bicycle usage is limited during these conditions.

14. San Francisco, USA
Yet another crowded city with strong car culture. Recent programs transformed some car lanes into bicycle lanes. Bicycles can be carried now by public transport. Things are pretty good now for bike owners and have all the chances to get even better.

15. Perth, Australia
Perth has one of the largest bike networks in the world, with over 700 km of lanes. The city encourages this means of transportation by investing good money.

16. Trondheim, Norway
At a first look, it’s a miracle that Trondheim is on the list. With so many hills, it’s no easy task for bikers to enjoy their ride. But Trondheim developed a bicycle lift, a quite simple device that gets you up any hill with no effort. It’s not truly a lift, but more of an electric stair. You put your right foot on it without getting off the bike and the lift is pushing you up the hill.

17. Basel, Switzerland
Bicycles are used in Basel mainly for going to work, since the city has an excellent bike network. During weekends, many people go by their bikes in the regions that surround the city. These regions are very picturesque and have well-marked bicycle paths.