Europe Triumphs in Top 20 Best Cities for Bikes

Amsterdam has a long tradition of cycling for basic transportation

Why Is the US So Far Behind in Using Bicycles for Transportation?

Did you know that pollsters can generally get about any answer they set out to get by how they design the poll.  What are the questions?  How are they asked.  In what order?  Who are the ones polled?  I’m not saying that a recent poll produced by Copenhagenize Design Co. is biased, and it certainly adds useful information to the question of cycling friendly places throughout the world.  However, there is at least a chance that their criteria may have been at least somewhat responsible for 3 of the top 20 being in Holland.  Moreover, almost all of the 20 were in Europe (3 Japan, one in South America), with the lone North American entry being Montreal.

The study took a look at 150 cities in all.  Thus far the pollsters don’t seem to have released information on 21-150.  It may be that well known cycling Meccas in the US such as Portland and Davis may have come in 21 and 22.  Possibly the folks at Copenhagenize Design Co. will provide more data later.

Their criteria for selection included:

  • advocacy
  • bicycle culture
  • cycling facilities
  • infrastructure
  • bike share program
  • gender split
  • modal share
  • modal
    share increase since 2006
  • perception of safety
  • politics
  • social
    acceptance
  • urban planning
  • traffic calming

Business insider did a nice analysis of the list with some great pictures of some of the cities.  And then did another piece on why Americans don’t get it – why we don’t have a single city that made the list.

The article quotes Mikael Colville-Andersen, CEO of Copenhagenize, the consulting and communications company that published the Index.

Even if more Americans wanted to cycle to work, the infrastructure
isn’t there for them. In the U.S., planners and engineers are
“incredibly stuck in the last century paradigm of ‘cars are the only
transport form that we plan for,'” Colville-Andersen said. “We’ve forgotten that the bicycle used to be a form of transportation.”

Many U.S. cities are working to improve cycling infrastructure, but
don’t always do so intelligently. Bike lanes are often placed to the
left of parked cars, putting cyclists between moving traffic and doors
that can open at any time.

“This doesn’t keep cyclists safe,” Colville-Andersen said, calling the setup a “brain fart.”

Colville-Anderson also believes that we in the US see cycling as being all about sport or leisure.  He suggests that our current effort to sell improving the cycling infrastructure based on environmental-friendliness and fitness rather than on the practical advantages of cycling for convenience and cost is wrongheaded.  Cost for both the individual and the various governments, city, county, state, and federal is many times higher for each car/mile than bicycle/mile.

Southern California is certainly the most ideal place in the world for cycling when it comes to year round weather.  Unfortunately, the region has been set up around cars and a willingness to drive 30 minutes to work and play.  Irvine, as a planned community, seems ideally suited for leapfrogging other cities into prominence.  Fixing that might take a generation.  Fortunately, there are forces at work that are pushing in the direction of bicycle friendliness.

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