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Bike Use Around the World
When it comes to cycling culture and
infrastructure, some countries have a much better approach than others. While
there are more than one billion bicycles in the world, the distribution curve
is far from equal. Some cities embrace bikes with open arms, and others seem
reticent to set up bike-friendly infrastructure. If adopted, bike use is more
than just a way to get around your favourite city, it also has the ability to
improve your health and reduce your carbon footprint. Let's take a look at the
most bicycle friendly destinations on Earth and how they differ from the
struggling bike culture in Australia and New Zealand.
People all over the world are rediscovering
the wonders of getting around on two wheels. Changes in bike culture continue
to come from multiple directions, with some people riding for the health
benefits, some to save money, and others wanting to embrace a more sustainable
transportation solution. Bike rental services exist in most major western
cities, with bike rental also popular in China and other busy Asian centres.
Clogged roads and problematic public transportation networks have helped bikes
to thrive in the developing world, as has the birth of the sharing economy.
According to the China Internet Network
Information Centre, bike-sharing services have attracted more than 100 million
users in China alone over the past year. The two largest services in Beijing
are valued at more than US$1 billion, with so many bikes on the streets that
the city has imposed a moratorium on bicycle-renting services. This situation
is repeated across Asia and South America, with people using bikes as an
affordable transportation solution despite chaotic city streets and a lack of
Despite more bikes being on the roads than
ever before, not all town planners and government departments have decided to
join the party. The Copenhagenize Bicycle Friendly Cities Index 2017 recently
attempted to rank cities in terms of "efforts towards re-establishing the
bicycle as a feasible, accepted and practical form of transport." 14
different parameters were used to measure these efforts, including things like
bicycle culture, facilities, advocacy, perception of safety, and social
As you might expect, the most bike friendly
cities in the world are located in Northern Europe, with Copenhagen in Denmark
coming out on top. While the competition between Copenhagen and Amsterdam is
fierce, the Danish capital continues to invest heavily in bicycle
infrastructure. Utrecht in the Netherlands actually managed to slip past
Amsterdam for second place, with the world's most famous biking city sliding
down to third. Bicycle culture is incredibly popular throughout the
Netherlands, with up to 70 percent of all journeys made by bike in Amsterdam
and The Hague.
Other cities that ranked well in the Index
were Strasbourg, France in fourth place, and Malmö, Sweden in fifth place.
Tokyo, Japan was the only non-European city to make the top ten, coming in at
ninth place. Despite a strong car culture in the United States, cities such as
Portland and New York have emerging bike communities and growing
infrastructure. Bicycle culture in Australia and New Zealand continues to
struggle, despite recent efforts by local governments to introduce bike renting
schemes. There are many reasons why this is the case, including the sprawling
nature of our cities, the hot weather conditions, and the strict helmet laws.
Image source: Alex