The World’s Most Bicycle Friendly Cities

Christchurch the bike friendly city
Christchurch – the bike friendly city

A closely related organisation to Cycling in Christchurch is Spokes Canterbury, who amongst other things advocate for better infrastructure to encourage more people to cycle more often. They have recently adopted a goal of making Christchurch one of the top 5 bicycle-friendly cities in the world.

In view of the rebuild about to happen it is something that is acheivable. On the other hand, given a perceived anti-cycling attitude of CCC management, through actions such as the “temporary” removal of cycling infrastructure in April 2011 and CCC’s current almost non-existent budget for cycling, we’re starting from a very low point indeed.

While it is one thing to have such a goal, it begs the question: what does it takes to become a “cycle friendly city”? Here are some articles that try to answer the question…

Rosebud e-magazine does a once-over-lightly in The World’s Top Five Bicycle-Friendly Cities article in 2011. The author considers 3 of the 5 top cities are North American. Then there is a Matador Network e-magazine article on 15 of the world’s most bike friendly cities published in April 2009. It is a little more detailed but still once-over-lightly and again many of the cities listed are North American. Another article that fails to live up to early promise is Bicycling Magazine’s America’s Top 50 Bike-Friendly Cities that includes a dead link to the top 5 International bike-friendly cities!

Those readers wanting a more in-depth consideration can find it in this April 2012 article: Amsterdam awarded ‘Most bicycle-friendly city’ title with 54 points out of 64 over 13 categories. The developers of the award – Copenhagenize Design Co is a leading consultancy and communications company specialising in bicycle promotion, research & marketing and liveable cities. It is headed by well-known cycle advocate Mikael Colville-Andersen. The criteria developed by them on which the award is based makes for an interesting read.

Using the criteria, currently I would award Christchurch about 3 points! How many do you think it would get? What do you think we need to do to get into the top 5? Will the Accessible City Transport Plan deliver us into that top 5 slot?

8 thoughts on “The World’s Most Bicycle Friendly Cities”

  1. No reason we couldn’t have a rolling ‘top cycling city’ for Aotearoa NZ – which city has improved the most over the past year. Winners this year clearly would be jointly Hastings / New Plymouth, on the back of the model communities program run by NZTA.

  2. I think you are being a bit tough Cyclogist; even if I’m being fairly harsh I can come up with at least 15pts for Chch on the Copenhagenize scale (and what we might think is fairly so-so may be considered quite good by the judges from outside of Chch). But apparently if we want to get into the Top 5 we have to get past Berlin, 5th with 41pts…

    1. Tough or not, it is only one person’s opinion, just as your opinion is also only one. Maybe you’re being too generous in view of what has passed in the last 3 years.

      Please don’t take it too seriously, I only spent a couple of minutes on it. it was more to provoke a response than anything. :o)

    2. Another thought Lennyboy – presuming there is no change and the Accessible City Transport Plan is implemented as presented – in your opinion how many points would Chch get when it is finished?

  3. To get Chch into the international top 5, how about adopting Amsterdam’s long term bicycle plan: (from iamsterdam.com)
    “Up until 2020, the City of Amsterdam is collaborating with partners such as Prorail and the Stadsregio Amsterdam to invest nearly 120 million euros to address the major issues affecting bike storage and the cycle path network. 90 million euros of this will be dedicated to the creation of 38,000 new bike parking places. Looking further to the future, a total of about 200 million euros will be required up until 2040, of which 170 million euros is for bike parking facilities. 200 million euros is an enormous amount of money, especially in these testing economic times. However, these measures are vital and are also economically viable. The increase in bike usage results in annual savings for the city of 20 million euros on public transport and another 20 million euros on motor traffic infrastructure. In comparison with other forms of transport, investing in bikes delivers the most effective result per euro.”

    1. Thank you Nina, Your post was exactly what I wanted. It sounds a wonderful amount. And all the other top 5 cities are spending similar amounts.

      We can’t expect and we’re not going to get anything like that amount but hopefully it will be more than the $118,000 CCC approved for this current financial year’s cycling budget.

      Even that would be acceptable if they hadn’t allocated $16 million to restore their central city car parking buildings. All that bare land being used for car parks for the next 3 years or so and they think the repair of car parking buildings is a priority?

      1. I went into town to see the Buskers today and cyclists were out in force, people on MTBs and road bikes but also many cyclists on vintage , retro bikes and tandems! I am not sure if all politicians have got the message yet but cycling in Christchurch is becoming popular and mainstream. The Share an Idea submissions have made clear that a significant part of the electorate (government and local) want serious improvements in cycling infrastructure. Politicians who do not deliver these might do this at their own risk. Cyclists can now be found across the political spectrum.

  4. A recent injury due to a cycling accident has left me to walk,bus, or have others drive me around the city . Plenty of time to observe . It is of concern to watch younger cyclists casually riding the pavements in pedestrian areas , ( outside Merivale Mall , if you please ) . This is a danger for elderly pedestrians , and although I don’t blame them as such , as Papanui Road is not cycling heaven , it is a red flag to the authorities to do something about our woefully inadequate cycling infrastructure .

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