From Zero to Hero: Cities Changing for the Future
Copenhagen and Amsterdam are the bike capitals of the world and virtually synonymous with cycling. In the Netherlands cycling share dropped from 85% to 20% in the 1970s, already starting to decrease shortly after the Second World War. The efforts of many cities are impressive and are recognised in the Copenhagenize Index – Bicycle Friendly Cities.
Copenhagen and Amsterdam are the bike capitals of the world and virtually synonymous with cycling. Almost a third of all daily journeys are covered by bike. But Copenhagen and Amsterdam were not always the role models of traffic planning that they are today. In the Netherlands cycling share dropped from 85% to 20% in the 1970s, already starting to decrease shortly after the Second World War. The uptake of car ownership had Copenhagen firmly in its grip. So firmly that rousing experiences were required to trigger a rethink in both cities. After fatal crashes between cars and cyclists, a resistance formed amongst cycling citizens that resulted in the reason why we admire Copenhagen and Amsterdam today: bike-friendly traffic.
The Copenhagenize Index
The efforts of both cities are impressive and are recognised in The Copenhagenize Index – Bicycle Friendly Cities
Until recently, Spain has not been exactly a bike mecca. The Andalusian capital of Seville has certainly changed tack and was celebrated as prime example at 4th place in the Copenhagenize Index. Since 2006 the bicycle modal share has multiplied from only 0.5% to 7% (2013). The reason: the city administration, newly elected in 2003, took time by the forelock and forced the blessing of an 80 kilometre-long cycleway network on Seville within a year. Instead of 10 there are now 50 bike shops and 70,000 cyclists (instead of 6,000) on the daily move in the south of Spain. In 2011 this development was capped by hosting the Velo-City Europe.
Paris, Bordeaux, Nantes
France is strongly represented, with three cities in the top 14 of the Copenhagenize Index. Alongside the leader, Bordeaux, Nantes and Paris are trying hard to catch up. Nantes, host of Velo-City Europe Conference 2015, wants to present itself in a particularly good light: weeks before the big event, enormous effort from politicians esulted in 485 kilometres of cycleways, a total of 10,622 members of the bike rental scheme „Bicicloo“ and a bike share of 5.3% (2008: 2 %). The capital city, Paris, has also set ambitious targets: Its goal is to be “Cycling Capital of the World” by 2020. The administration is investing 150 million Euros under mayor Anne Hidalgo’s lead and wants to double the cycleway network from 700 to 1,400 kilometres, amongst other things. Plans for the Champs-Elysées are included. In the next five years the modal share for cycling should be tripled from 5% to 15%. The rental scheme „Vélib“ is already a great success today with 283,000 members and will be expanded to an E-bike fleet.
2,600 metres above sea level, 8 million inhabitants and almost 1.5 million private cars. No, Bogotá is not among the leading cities in the Copenhagenize Index. Nevertheless, at the turn of the millennium under mayor Enrique Peñalosa, the Colombian capital managed a change in mobility behaviour like almost no other city. Parking spaces were closed to make room for pedestrians and cyclists, the 376-kilometre cycleway network was built and public transport and bikes were linked by the Transmilenio bus system. Although the modal share for cycling still lies at a humble 2%, enthusiasm for the bicycle is clearly palpable: Every Sunday 121 kilometres of streets in the city centre are closed for Ciclovía– a huge Critical Mass.