New research ranking cities around the world on cycle-friendliness puts Utrecht in the Netherlands top of the list, with neither Amsterdam nor Copenhagen making the top three – while Bristol, in 17th place, is the leading British city.
Compiled by German insurer Coya, the 2019 Bicycle Cities Index rates 90 cities on a number of criteria including theft and casualty rates, investment in infrastructure, percentage of people cycling, bike share availability and initiatives such as car free day and participation in Critical Mass to produce an overall ranking.
Utrecht came out top by a long way, with a total score of 77.84, followed in second place on 66.15 by Munster, one of seven German cities to make the top 20. Third was Antwerp in Belgium, followed by Copenhagen and Amsterdam, although there was very little between their respective scores.
There is one big caveat, however, which is that the research does not seek to establish a definitive list of the best cities for cycling – as Coya points out, “90 cities were selected for their willingness to invest and work on initiatives to improve cycling infrastructure and safety.
“The study does not reflect the best and worst cities for cycling, but rather evaluates the cycling climate for these 90 cities based on factors related to bike-users.”
That helps explains why Cambridge – which one might expect to at least figure somewhere on a ranking of this type and perhaps lead other British cities – doesn’t feature; it simply wasn’t chosen.
Besides Bristol, the other two places here that were chosen were Edinburgh, which was ranked 53rd overall, and London, which came 62nd.
Also missing from the list is Groningen, widely seen in the Netherlands and beyond as perhaps the best city for cycling on the planet.
You can find the full ranking and methodology here, and it is possible to toggle individual criteria to see which cities come out best (or worst) for individual factors.
For example, Singapore was assessed as having the lowest levels of bike theft and Johannesburg the highest, while for the overall infrastructure score, Geneva topped the list while Lagos came bottom.
Coya says: “As digital insurance specialists and committed bikers ourselves, we firmly believe that cyclists should be free to get from A to B, without having to worry about road quality, safety or bicycle theft.
“To delve into the topic further, we decided to investigate which cities around the world are improving their overall cycling conditions, as well as encouraging bicycle-usage as a healthy, sustainable mode of transport.
“We then ranked each location's efforts to determine the best cycling cities, as, after all, we believe that the road to future mobility is on two wheels.”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.