Photo by Jӧrg Bandell
1. Copenhagen, Denmark
Population: 1.8 million
Bikeways: 137 miles (220 kilometers) of separated priority bikeways with a plethora of regional trails
Transit Network: 118 miles (190 kilometers) over nine lines of surface and separated metro rail with extended regional rail capacity.
Copenhagen is the poster child of urban cycling. 37 percent of trips taken in the city are on a bike. The city clearly has developed a cycling culture, even in a cold and wet climate. The Danes are notable for treating cycling as an everyday activity, dressing for the destination and carrying their children on their cargo bikes.
The conceptual form of the city, known as the “green fingers,” reflects the form of a human hand where the city core is the palm and the splayed-out fingers are the connections to suburban development. The gaps between each finger allow for green wedges of park and “wilderness” that can be visited from every neighborhood. Cycle Super Highways and a network of enhanced bikeways will further connect the city and include priority signaling as well as a bounty of other amenities. The fastidious Danes do not rest on their laurels as cycling royalty. The next stage of development is to increase the mode share of cyclists to 50 percent for the entire city, including the suburbs. Neither do they tackle cycling issues in a vacuum. Planning departments learn from neighboring and worldwide cities to achieve their local goals.
2. Freiburg, Germany
Bikeways: 250 miles (400 kilometers) of identified bikeways and trails
Transit Network: 16 miles (25 kilometers) over five lines of surface trams fed with an extensive bus system
Freiburg is known as an exemplary eco-city within Germany – already a bastion of green building and technology. The city has a strong connection to the surrounding Black Forest region and has developed as part of nature. The city has a car-free mentality, especially in its pedestrianized core. Suburbs like Vauban, near the urban edge, even have a policy limiting access for cars to utility service only, disallowing them into some neighborhoods.
Freiburg also has a series of hub bicycle stations at major network nodes and in the core, allowing people to switch to public transit or to securely park their bikes at no charge as they travel around the city.
3. Bogotá, Colombia
Population: 7.5+ million
Bikeways: 188 mile (303 kilometer) network of separated bikeways and paths, known as ciclorutas
Transit Network: Nine lines of bus rapid transit routes in 52 miles (84 kilometers) of dedicated lanes fed by a network of local buses
Bogotá’s extensive system in what is ostensibly a poor city is proof that vision, commitment and guts are what’s needed to make human-powered cities possible. The city emphasizes connecting people through superior public spaces. The network consists of city street-oriented bikeways connecting to bike parking and integrated into stations in the rapid transit network of large capacity bus-ways. The city is also known for ciclovías, regular enforced car-free days.
4. New York City, USA
Population: 8.5+ million