Since 1998, the European Union Regional Policy unit has been collecting data on the happiness or otherwise of its citizens in 75 cities. It reported in 2004, 2007 and now 2010 with its 'Survey on perception of quality of life in 75 European cities'.
According to Johannes Hahn, the European Commissioner responsible for regional policy, the report shows that "on the whole, citizens are satisfied with the quality of a number of services, in particular in the areas of transport, health and cultural facilities." He moves on to some less satisfactory issues like poverty and housing before finishing with, "I also note the serious concerns expressed by European citizens on questions of air and noise pollution."
It's an interesting read with some great graphs showing views on affordable housing and ease of finding a good job - who knew, for example, that our Newcastle is the third most satisfied city in Europe with its provision of healthcare? - but obviously what caught our eye were the sections on transport in general and cycling in particular. Start on page 60 "Means of transport for commuting".
Fascinating to see, for example, that London (17%) is way down the list with Paris at the bottom with 11% of workers driving to work with Paris (67%) right at the top - and London (60%) close behind - of citizens using public transport.
Londoners are all the way at the bottom of the list for time taken to get to work with a whopping 25% taking more than 45 minutes to get to work and a further 23% taking over an hour.
Out of 75 European cities, the studied UK representatives are Belfast, Cardiff, Glasgow, London, Manchester and Newcastle. Our necessarily truncated image above shows the roughly top two-thirds of the graph illustrating the percentage of people who cycle or walk to work. It may be some consolation that Lefkosia in Cyprus at the bottom of the graph - you'll need to click on the link to see the whole thing on p.63 of the report - has precisely 0% cyclists to work and 5% walkers.
No surprise that in at No1 for cycling to work are Copenhagen and Groningen in the Netherlands with 60% of commuting journeys completed by bike with Amsterdam third with 46%.
And where do our own fair cities come? London is the highest in 19th place with 9% followed by 4% for Cardiff, Newcastle on 3% and 2% each for Belfast, Glasgow and Manchester.
Don't tell Freewheeler on his fiesty but fabulous Crap Cycling & Walking in Waltham Forest blog but maybe there's some praise due here to Transport for London (TfL) because our capital is clearly showing the way to enlightenment for us provincial UK types.
However, 9% of commuters cycling in London vs. 17% in Berlin, 26% in Rotterdam and 37% in Malmo, Sweden where, although the people are lovely, has both even more revolting weather than London and terrible hills, shows there is still quite a way to go.