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The 20 most bike-friendly cities in the world

family_guy

Member
Mar 17, 2013
9,675
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I remember my first day visiting Amsterdam I saw so many people bike riding it was amazing. Then I saw a guy riding his bike while walking his dog at the same time. He rolled over the dog's paw. The dog whelped and gave him a WTF?! look. Everyone around him were shaking their heads.
 

Formidable

Neo Member
Mar 19, 2014
30
0
0
Montreal
there's no way Montreal beats Ottawa for cycling.

old cobblestones vs separate Capitol Region budget paying for kilometers of pristine bike paths throughout the city, plus closing the highway for cyclists on Sunday, plus access to Hull and surrounding gorgeous region... no way

I'd say with just bike paths, it's neck and neck.
http://www.pedalmontreal.ca/

If you scroll over on this map to Montreal and Ottawa, you can see the density is probably a bit greater in Montreal, with a larger spread.

The biggest difference is between the bike share programs. I'm pretty sure the number of BIXI stations in Montreal are much greater than the bike share program in Ottawa. (wasn't it also operated by BIXI in Ottawa at one point?)
 

Oppo

Member
Jan 22, 2010
17,540
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925
Toronto
I'd say with just bike paths, it's neck and neck.
http://www.pedalmontreal.ca/

If you scroll over on this map to Montreal and Ottawa, you can see the density is probably a bit greater in Montreal, with a larger spread.

The biggest difference is between the bike share programs. I'm pretty sure the number of BIXI stations in Montreal are much greater than the bike share program in Ottawa. (wasn't it also operated by BIXI in Ottawa at one point?)

Yeah I didn't see much bike share in Ottawa, it's not big enough really, so I can believe that.

But I see your path map and raise you Montreal drivers and infrastructure ;)
 

iapetus

Scary Euro Man
May 31, 2004
17,770
1
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www.veryshortpier.com
As a cyclist in Tokyo I disapprove of Tokyo's appearance in this list.

I used to live in Cambridge (UK) which is heaven for cyclists in comparison (but I guess not a global city), but hasn't even made the top 20.

They ranked 136 cities, which tells me that either Cambridge wasn't one of those 136, or that their ranking system is broken.
 

kharma45

Member
Aug 22, 2009
32,573
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Meanwhile in Belfast...

 

minor effort

Banned
Feb 21, 2006
5,775
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Japanese law theoretically prohibits bicycles from running on pavements except under the following circumstances:
- There's a clear sign (a round blue one) that states bicycles are allowed on the pavement
- The person riding is under 13 or over 70
- There is an indisputable safety concern (road with many cars, road too narrow, dangerous driver etc.)

But it's never actually enforced.

When I was living in Tokyo I biked exclusively on roads themselves whether or not bike lanes were available (and they were relatively rare). Just the sheer number of pedestrians, random objects (signs, placards), mamacharis going various speeds or directions made sidewalk cycling deeply unappealing. Plus, in Japan, sidewalks are all manner of uneven, start and stop randomly, change grade randomly, have open gutters on the sides, etc.

Likewise, I always took roads themselves when living in rural Saitama.

I got it, sidewalk riding was great for children, seniors, or otherwise slower riders, but I felt less safe on the sidewalks instead of more. And it was just unbearably slow.
 

Nuzzle

Member
Jul 11, 2015
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as an NL resident, i'm super curious about copenhagen, because the bike infra here is crazy good.

Also the entirety of the Netherlands is super well configured for bike traffic (you can literally just bike around the country). I'm curious if this is true of Denmark? Any Danish wanna comment?

I wish more countries were like this I almost wouldn't want to leave NL just based on bikes alone.

Pretty much all of Denmark is as good as Copenhagen on the bike front. My city, with a 40k population, has bike lanes on 90% of roads and bike-friendly intersections + traffic lights.
 
Apr 19, 2011
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I saw many people ride bikes in the sidewalks in Shibuya. There were cruiser style bikes, not road bikes, and they were going rather slow. But it irked me lol.

Stranger still, pedestrians would still yield to those cruisers. I never got used to that.
 

smoothj

Member
Feb 3, 2008
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san diego ca
Just got back from Tokyo a few weeks ago. I did notice how bike friendly the city is. So organized man I want to go back already.
 

thelatestmodel

Junior, please.
Dec 17, 2008
6,155
1
0
Ontario, Canada
Why? It's legal for bikes to be on sidewalks in Japan, I would think it would be fine in many countries providing there are safety and speed limits

Actually no it's not, only in designated areas.

However, that doesn't stop literally everyone from riding their bike on the sidewalk, which I actually think is the way it should be. Everyone expects there to be bikes on the sidewalks, and it works extremely well. Often they'll divide the sidewalk into a bike half and a pedestrian half, which is wonderful. Japan has got it sorted.

It is so much better than having them on the road, and I honestly don't care what the statistics say about it being more dangerous. The studies are skewed because nearly all accidents involving a cyclist on the sidewalk happen in one situation - when a cyclist crosses a road without stopping and / or looking.

Yes, being on a busy sidewalk is a bit slower for the cyclist. You can't get up to top speed in a busy city street with pedestrians. But without proper cycling infrastructure, your only other option leaves you very exposed and at risk.

As a motorist I get nervous when I have to go around a cyclist. As a cyclist I worry about getting hit. In Toronto 5 cyclists are hit by cars every single day. As a society we need to be smarter about protecting them, and I think separating them from cars is a big factor. Bike lanes or sidewalk - not the road.
 

Laekon

Member
Dec 18, 2009
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It's not just sprawl. Most cities don't care about bicycles as transportation and don't want to give up their car centric design. No city in the US has bike parking stations and bike specific lights and lanes like North Central Europe.

Minneapolis' fall and rise are what allowed it to be a good bike city. It was a manufacturing town that grew around it's railroad tracks. When that died the tracks were left alone for awhile and then as the city recovered tracks were turned into bike paths. Other cities were built before the railroads and/or rebuilt themselves around cars after they were gone.
 

subrock

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Oct 29, 2006
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I hope to one day say that my city is bike friendly. We just got the first of 5 protected lanes in the downtown core and opponents are screaming murder because they remove 15 or so parking spaces. 9 Million over 5 years and everyone's trying to slam on the brakes. There's not even enough of a network to validate the designs yet.
 

Beaulieu

Member
Oct 10, 2006
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0
there's no way Montreal beats Ottawa for cycling.

old cobblestones vs separate Capitol Region budget paying for kilometers of pristine bike paths throughout the city, plus closing the highway for cyclists on Sunday, plus access to Hull and surrounding gorgeous region... no way

Montreal is a little bit bigger than the old port man... haha
I've biked in numerous cities in america (not Ottawa tho), and I think that appart from the accesibility, the big difference is that Montreal drivers are used to bikes everywhere. Number of bikes on the road really has skyrocketed in the last five years, there are often way more bikes than cars on the roads.

90% of the times I see a driver do something stupid / dangerous in regard of cyclists in Montreal, they have Ontario, Vermont or New York licenses plates.

Figured Montreal would be on there, nice to see it just barely made the list.

It's a really pleasant experience taking a bike anywhere in the city. There's a pretty good bike rental service most places downtown. When Just For Laughs comes around next month, there's a big bike parking lot that's pretty entertaining to look at.

It's already up for Francofolies
 

ClosingADoor

Member
Apr 6, 2009
16,923
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Amsterdam
Yup. They build an entire cycling highway between Arnhem and Nijmegen, so amazing.
There is one between Zaandam and Amsterdam since last year I think also. Never used it though.

Amsterdam is mostly a mess in the inner city with bikes because it is just too damn busy and the streets are too small in a lot of places. At least compared to a lot of other cities in Holland. But for people not used to bike lanes it must seem like a dream for cyclists anyway.
 

phazedplasma

Member
Jul 7, 2010
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575
I wish NYC was better, but people and their cars gotta fuck it up for us I guess.

its not terrible. You just have to be way more aggressive than the cities listed.

I commuted almost all year round there for years. Only got hit (badly) once!
 

el jacko

Member
Jun 21, 2004
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tokyo
I've biked for work in both Tokyo and NYC in all four seasons, and while I couldn't say if they deserve to make the list, I can't really see how one fits but not the other.

Tokyo has a larger & stronger consciousness of cyclists; anyone in the city can (theoretically) bike through town. So you'll see housewives and the elderly on bicycles, many with (multiple) small children in child seats. Cars are generally more deferential. But there's no physical infrastructure, and I always had this sense that the city supported a large bicycling culture despite itself. In other words, if the city could banish every bicycle from the streets, it would. I never heard much public debate about the topic, however.

NYC, meanwhile, is pushing a larger bicycle culture, with multiple protected lanes in each borough, making cycling a visible aspect of the city. It's far more political in NYC, with innumerable articles about how bicycles are destroying the city (never mind that every delivery man has been using them for decades). Drivers are less deferential/more aggressive, and the roads are terrible where there's a pothole every fifty meters. I think cycling here has traditionally been primarily for immigrant deliverymen and hardcore enthusiasts, with Citibike starting to make inroads into the general public. Only this summer am I starting to see moms with child seats on their bicycles.

I was lucky enough to spend a few days with a friend in Copenhagen, and that city blows the two out of the water. Dedicated bike lanes on virtually every street - it was the first time I got caught in a bicycle-only traffic jam!
 

Morrigan Stark

Arrogant Smirk
Jul 23, 2010
30,991
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How did Montreal make the list. I don't understand how people enjoy biking here considering the lack of dedicated bike lanes. Must be braver than me.
There's plenty of (non-dedicated) bike lanes. And where there aren't, usually the streets are not busy, or very wide that it's a non-issue.

I commute by bike every summer, though I'm starting to get annoyed at the plethora of Bixis around. Get out of my way you slow-ass motherfuckers! lol

there's no way Montreal beats Ottawa for cycling.

old cobblestones vs separate Capitol Region budget paying for kilometers of pristine bike paths throughout the city, plus closing the highway for cyclists on Sunday, plus access to Hull and surrounding gorgeous region... no way
cities
 

Buba Big Guns

Banned
Apr 10, 2008
4,920
0
0
there's no way Montreal beats Ottawa for cycling.

old cobblestones vs separate Capitol Region budget paying for kilometers of pristine bike paths throughout the city, plus closing the highway for cyclists on Sunday, plus access to Hull and surrounding gorgeous region... no way

Montreal is a great cycling city, but I gotta agree. Ottawa is unreal for biking.
 

Visualante2

Member
Oct 20, 2011
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Now to cross reference this with the most affordable cities in the world to live in and we're on to something.
 

Pacbois

Member
Dec 28, 2008
2,688
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Montréal
colinzeal.tumblr.com
i recently moved to montréal and got a bike as everybody told me it's the best way to move around but like come on with those potholes ridden streets i feel like i'm going to have an accident every 30 seconds.
 

2MF

Member
Jun 3, 2011
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Hoping London can climb the list over the next 10 years. Investment is set to double and more bike lanes and associated infrastructure.

London strikes me as the kind of city that won't be bike friendly any time soon. There's a crazy amount of car traffic and lots of narrow roads which can't accomodate bike lanes.
 

Morrigan Stark

Arrogant Smirk
Jul 23, 2010
30,991
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i recently moved to montréal and got a bike as everybody told me it's the best way to move around but like come on with those potholes ridden streets i feel like i'm going to have an accident every 30 seconds.

I feel you, the potholes suuuuuck

The trick is to get on the streets/lanes that have been recently re-worked. Makes cycling around far more pleasant. You just moved so you probably aren't familiar with all the streets yet, but keep exploring and take alternative parallel streets and you should find a decent path at some point.
 

Beaulieu

Member
Oct 10, 2006
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i recently moved to montréal and got a bike as everybody told me it's the best way to move around but like come on with those potholes ridden streets i feel like i'm going to have an accident every 30 seconds.

you need an hybrid, not a road bike
 

Dazza

Member
Dec 10, 2014
1,129
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0
Japanese law theoretically prohibits bicycles from running on pavements except under the following circumstances:
- There's a clear sign (a round blue one) that states bicycles are allowed on the pavement
- The person riding is under 13 or over 70
- There is an indisputable safety concern (road with many cars, road too narrow, dangerous driver etc.)

But it's never actually enforced.

Thanks, I thought it was fully legal for everyone, but this makes sense.
 
Apr 9, 2015
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I wouldn't dare to ride a bike in Vienna after living there for 8 years. Viennese drivers are by far the worst in Austria.

Graz is much bike friendlier.
That's bull amazingly on both counts. Biking is great in Vienna.

Last couple weeks I've completely stopped using public transport and drove across Vienna on my bike. No issues whatsoever. There's a bikeroad everywhere often next to pedestrian walks.

Went swimming in the Danube then rode back to Wiener Wald.
 

Visualante2

Member
Oct 20, 2011
14,629
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Ljubljana, Slovenia 159/264
Montreal, Canada 125/264
Berlin, Germany 109/264
Vienna, Austria 107/264

Most affordable cities above. Couldn't find data on Utretcht, Strasbourg, Malmo, Bordeaux, Antwerp, Barcelona, Sevilla or Nantes.

Everything else was just ludicrous.
 

LostCaress

Member
May 8, 2013
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My city of Lisbon is probably one of the worst : lots of hills, cobblestone, tram tracks, cycling lanes that are populated with people and streets where drivers will pass inches away from you.
 

GSG Flash

Nobody ruins my family vacation but me...and maybe the boy!
Jul 7, 2004
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I'm surprised that the Netherlands doesn't sweep the entire list.
 

Firemind

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Jan 3, 2012
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There is one between Zaandam and Amsterdam since last year I think also. Never used it though.

Amsterdam is mostly a mess in the inner city with bikes because it is just too damn busy and the streets are too small in a lot of places. At least compared to a lot of other cities in Holland. But for people not used to bike lanes it must seem like a dream for cyclists anyway.
Cyclists in Amsterdam are assholes. Instead of stopping in front of crosswalks, they'll use their bells to tell you to GTFO of their way. Doesn't help that tourists love to rent bicycles nowadays who are clumsier than most.
 

Formidable

Neo Member
Mar 19, 2014
30
0
0
Montreal
that's what i got but still, especially as i'm used to bike on smooth streets and i have a terrible balance i'm constantly terrified.

Yeah, you definitely have to keep your head on a swivel. Worst is if you commute at night, definitely get a good bike light.

Tires make a big difference, however. I ride on 35mm width tires, which absorb a lot of the shock ( I ride a road/gravel bike).
 

Koren

Member
Mar 11, 2005
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Er I like Bordeaux a lot, but the biking environment is not that exceptional, no better nor worse than in cities like Lyon for example, and I've seen much better in many German cities.
Paris is surprising too, the development of bike lanes and services is commendable, but there's still a long way to go before it feels perfectly safe and comfortable in the whole city.
The lack of Lyon is indeed strange... They've supported bikes for quite a long time now, and it's one of the only places I'd actually use a bike (paths alongside rivers are a bliss for bikes).

And I believe they were first in France to offer automatic bike renting in streets (far before Paris, for example). The service was also elected best in Europe a couple years ago (Paris and Bruxelles were second and third).
 

Dazzler

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Feb 25, 2013
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Vancouver is not on the list so I expect a 10 fold increase in bike lanes and traffic to increase because of it.

The people in this city that cycle have a death wish. The drivers are laugh out loud terrible

I gave up on cycling after moving here. I don't want to die under the wheels of a white Mercedes SUV
 

Lego Boss

Member
Aug 15, 2013
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460
Yeah...can anyone explain? I mean I was there just a few weeks ago and rode a bike only in Kyoto, because Tokyo didn't seem like it would be useful, but Kyoto is definitely the bike city of Japan?

Agree. And in Kyoto those cyclists are maverick af
 

Blackpuppy

Member
Mar 4, 2016
420
2
285
The lack of Lyon is indeed strange... They've supported bikes for quite a long time now, and it's one of the only places I'd actually use a bike (paths alongside rivers are a bliss for bikes).

And I believe they were first in France to offer automatic bike renting in streets (far before Paris, for example). The service was also elected best in Europe a couple years ago (Paris and Bruxelles were second and third).

Lyon's Vélo'v service was definitely first. It's a great system for a quick ride but those things are HEAVY.

Lyon is alright but it's definitely not the best in Europe. There are bike lanes along the rivers and even in the past few years they're trying to accomodate them more, but there are always assholes who park on the bike lanes around Cours Charlemagne and unless you stay on the few dedicated lanes, you're still fighting with traffic. (Although the drivers are very curteous to cyclists! Especially compared to the States).

Strasbourg is legit though! I lived there in the late 90s, early naughts and even then it was fantastic: bikes were allowed to go in the opposite direction in a one way street, bike lanes on nearly every major axe. It also helps that it's a flat, well-preserved medieval city that is terrible for cars to drive around and find parking in.
 

18-Volt

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Jun 27, 2011
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Nantes IS bike friendly but people usually prefer motor scooters instead. Regular bicycles are kind of a rare sight.

A city I'd like to add is Eskisehir, Turkey (it's Dorlion for us Greeks). There are just a tiny bit of motorized traffic downtown and people absolutely love bicycles (probably because people cannot afford cars). Anybody know Eskisehir? It's where the King Midas and the golden touch story happened.