London drops out of top 20 - though number of cities assessed has more than doubled

Amsterdam has retained its place as the world’s leading city for cycling, according to the second edition of the Copenhagenize Index, which has also identified strong progress in encouraging cycling by several French cities – but London, which was ranked joined 15th in the inaugural edition in 2011, has dropped out of the top 20.

That may seem a surprise – while no-one would doubt that a lot needs to be done to make London a true cycling city to rival Europe’s best, at the Get Britain Cycling launch last week both Ashok Sinha of the London Cycling Campaign and Mark from the blog I Bike London agreed that real progress has been made in the past year or two.

The explanation seems to be twofold – this time round, Copenhgenize – an urban planning consultancy with a strong focus on the bicycle – has cast the net wider, assessing 150 cities rather than the 80 that figured in that inaugural edition; meanwhile, some places have burst into the top 20 rankings thanks to impressive progress in embracing cycling.

Here’s this year’s top 20 ranking, with the 2011 position in brackets – note that the 20th city, Hamburg, is actually numbered 13 due to the way Copenhagenize treats cities tied on the same score (or rather, the ones that follow them.)

1. Amsterdam (1)
2. Copenhagen (2)
3. Utrecht (new)
4. Seville (new)
4. Bordeaux (new)
5. Nantes (new)
5. Antwerp (new)
6. Eindhoven (new)
7. Malmö (new)
8. Berlin (5)
9. Dublin (9)
10. Tokyo (4)
11. Munich (6)
11. Montreal (8)
11. Nagoya (new)
12. Rio de Janeiro
13. Barcelona (3)
13. Budapest (10)
13. Paris (7)
14. Hamburg (13)

The ranking is compiled based on 13 criteria, ranging from modal share and social acceptance to perception of safety and existence of bike share programmes, as well as issues such as bicycle infrastructure. Bonus points are awarded in categories where a city has made a particularly striking effort.

Copehagenize says: 

Only one city this year scored maximum bonus points - Seville. Bordeaux, Rio de Janeiro and Copenhagen came close to maxing out on the bonus score. Bordeaux scored well on political leadership and their bike share system while Copenhagen made up for lost points on helmet promotion by scoring on innovation what with the series of bicycle bridges being constructed on the harbour and their almost complete infrastructure network. Rio de Janeiro managed to gain bonus points for innovative planning projects, social acceptance and political will.

Three Dutch cities made the Top 20 which is certainly no surprise but it must be said that they coasted to their placements based on status quo more than in- novative thinking and the eagerness to move forward that we see in other cities.

The appearance of three French cities is a sign that France is quickly becoming a leading urban cycling nation. Three German cities and two Japanese cities made the cut as well, keeping them established as the world’s leading bicycle nations behind the Netherlands and Denmark.

The most exciting aspect is seeing the newcomers to the list. The Emerging Bicycle Cities are not just transforming their own urban landscape, they are inspiring cities around the world in showing what is possible in a short amount of time. These are the visionaries.

You can find full details of the Copenhagenize Index, including comments about each of the cities making the top 20 here.

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.