Mikael Colville-Andersen, who many of you know as the man behind the Copenhagenize and Copenhagen Cycle Chic blogs, also runs Copenhagenize Consulting. They've just released a very cool index of the most bicycle-friendly cities around the world, ranking the top 20 based on a pretty exhaustive list of criteria. Despite having the word "Copenhagen" in its name, the overall winner for 2011 is Amsterdam with 54 out of 64 possible points (one of its bike parkings is pictured above).
To see the whole index, check out the official website: The Copenhagenize Index 2011. Each name in the list is clickable and has a short writeup.
If you're curious about the criteria that were used to rank the cities, that information is available here. Some of those are inherently subjective (perception of safety, social acceptance), but a well-defined point system made it as close to objective as possible. For example, social acceptance was on this scale:
In general, having such an index (and updating it every year using comparable data) can only lead to good things. It's similar to how many NGOs rank corruption or ease of doing business. Nobody wants to be at the bottom of the list, and those that do well end up incorporating that into their self-image and don't want to fall behind. It's a great motivator -- a carrot and a stick at the same time!
The Copenhagenize Index
Developing the index has been time-consuming but rewarding. We would like to thank all of the people in our network who assisted with information and statistics. A wide range of individuals - politicians, advocates, traffic planners - have contributed to this inaugural index and we couldn't have done it without their help. The original concept was developed with a collaboration with James Schwartz of The Urban Country.
At the end of the day we rated over 80 major cities around the world. Ideally we would have liked to have included smaller cities but based on the time we were using on the index we narrowed it down to major cities. We know that smaller cities like Groningen, Netherlands or Malmö, Sweden would have fared extremely well, but we had to draw the line somewhere.
The smallest city to make the Top 20 list is Portland. We are aware that it doesn't technically fit into the major cities category, but we were curious to see how the USA's top cycling city would fare. Not to mention the fact that we'd never hear the end of it from Portlanders if we didn't include them.
The final list of the Top 20 bicycle friendly cities offers up some surprises. We thought we had a pretty clear idea of what the list would end up looking like but a number of cities ended up shining brighter, especially after awarding bonus points. The top two cities - Amsterdam and Copenhagen - will probably surprise noone but seeing results of the index we were surprised to see cities like Montreal, Guadalajara, Rio de Janeiro, New York City and Dublin ranking so well.
In the event of a draw, the city with the highest bonus point score is ranked higher. This determined the hierarchy among the cities of Budapest, Portland, Guadalajara and Hamburg while Helsinki and London were even on all scores, as were Rio de Janeiro and Vienna.