While Europe as a whole sets the bar for bicycle urbanism, there are many other pedal-friendly oases around the world that also cater to two-wheeled transportation. Here are our favorite bike-friendly cities in the world, perfect for enjoying the outdoors and exploring the sights, whether you’re a local or tourist.
1. Copenhagen, Denmark
Ranked number one on the Copenhagenize Index – a comprehensive ranking system compiled by the Copehnagenize Design Company every two years – the capital of Denmark is easily the most bike-friendly city in the world. Bicycles are the main form of transportation in Copenhagen, where more than 50 percent of residents commute by bike. In addition to 250 miles of bike lanes, Copenhagen boasts many bicycle bridges and the famous Cykelslangen (“Cycle Snake”), an elevated bike-only roadway above the harbour front. And the city’s even developing a “Bicycle Super Highway” network of 26 bike paths that will cover 186 miles and connect Greater Copenhagen to the city.
While the sheer number of cyclists can be overwhelming to tourists, a guided day tour is a good way to get started.
2. Amsterdam, Netherlands
A whopping 38 percent of all trips in Amsterdam are made by bike, and that fact alone would be enough to propel this Dutch city to second place on our list of bike-friendly cities. There are more bikes than people in Amsterdam, and nearly two-thirds of the population over age 12 bikes every single day. The Amsterdam Bicycle Network (comprised of cycle paths and bike lanes) is one of the largest of its kind in the world (nearly 500 miles long). There are even 25 parking garages in Amsterdam just for bikes.
Similar to Copenhagen, riding a bike in Amsterdam can be daunting to visitors. A guided bike tour is the way to go, whether it’s a city tour, a canal ride, or even outside the city.
3. Eindhoven, Netherlands
Eindhoven’s Floating Roundabout is reason enough to add it to this list. It ranks number five on the Copenhagenize Index, but we like it so much we’ve ranked it third. While it’s one of the smaller cities on the list, Eindhoven has impressive infrastructures to support cycling. Yes, there’s the Floating Roundabout, but there’s also the Bikedispenser—an automated system for storing and sharing rental bikes – and the glowing bike path, a tribute to Vincent van Gogh’s “Starry Night” on the Van Gogh-Roosegaarde city path. What Eindhoven lacks in size, it makes up for in innovation.
If you’re an average biker, you should be able to handle the smaller city on your own. There’s even a bike rental serviceright at the central train station for convenience.
4. Seville, Spain
While Spain’s bike-friendly culture pales in comparison to its northern neighbors, Seville is the one Spanish city that has put the country on the map for successful bicycle urbanism. The Andalusian capital now has more than 75 miles of segregated lanes, and the number of trips taken by bike have increased 11-fold in the past few years.
University students are provided with bikes for the academic year, and passengers who arrive at the main city bus station can use their ticket to borrow one of nearly 200 rental bikes, free for the day.
5. Ljubljana, Slovenia
Slovenia’s capital is an up-and-coming European destination that has been on our radar since it was recognized as the European Green Capital of 2016. Fueled by a political effort to increase cycling in the city, Ljubljana now has more than 80 miles of bike lanes and 45 miles of cycle tracks. It made its inaugural appearance on the Copenhagenize Index last year, and comes in at number five on our list of bike-friendly cities.
Like Seville, you can handle the bike paths in Ljubljana sans tour guide. Use Ljubljana’s bike-share system, Bicikelj, which has pick-up/drop-off terminals throughout the city.
6. Buenos Aires, Argentina
Buenos Aires is the only South American city to make this list. While the continent as a whole is far behind in bicycle urbanism, Buenos Aires is leading the way for South America. It now has close to 90 miles of protected bicycle paths as well a bike-share program, and continues to improve public transportation to reduce street traffic.
If you’re visiting, try the city’s bike share program, Ecobici, which has 200 automated stations and 3,000 bikes.
7. Minneapolis, US
The Minnesota capital is the first American city to ever appear on the Copenhagenize Index for its “on-street” bikeways, improving infrastructure, and bike share system. It now has close to 120 miles of bike paths in the city and another 90 miles off-street. While the winter creates a unique challenge in maintaining this infrastructure, Minneapolis still ranks highly on our list for its contribution to U.S. bicycle urbanism.
If you go, use the state’s bike share program, Nice Ride Minnesota, which has locations in the Twin Cities. You might want to consider a tour route like “Urban Wildlife” or the “Mmmmm, Beer Tour” as a way to explore the city by bike.
8. Montreal, Canada
Montreal has long been a poster child for North American urban biking due to its protected bike lanes (implemented in the 1980s), path maintenance, high ridership numbers, and bike share system. In many ways the city was one of the forerunners of urban biking culture, and its reaped the benefits ever since in terms of traffic congestion, quality of life and reducing pollution.
You can easily use Monreal’s bike lanes and paths with the bike share program, BIXI, which also has a useful app for trip planning and a map of station locations.
These cities are starting to earn a reputation as bike-friendly, too:
- Portland, Oregon: With political initiatives like PDX Bike Month and a dedicated board for Active Transportation, Portland is making a name for itself in bicycle urbanism circles. Portland produces citywide bike maps, maintains the BIKETOWN bike share program, and provides bike lockers and racks.
- Louisville, Kentucky: The gorgeous Louisville Waterfront makes for a scenic and bike-friendly route, but it’s the Big Four Bridge that adds Louisville to the list. The former railroad truss bridge was recently converted to a bike/walking path that connects Louisville to Jeffersonville, Indiana, via the Ohio River. There are even speakers playing classical music along the half-mile route. While Louisville certainly has a long way to come in terms of urban bicycling, the desire to innovate is certainly there.
- Tokyo, Japan: The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has promised (to admittedly mixed reaction) to double the length of bike lanes in the city before the 2020 Summer Olympics and add “Safe Cycling Routes” around venues hosting events, earning it an honorable mention until it can prove itself in the next few years.
- Perth, Australia: The Western Australia capital is one of the few South Pacific cities worth consideration when it comes to urban cycling. Bike commuting is becoming more popular with park and ride facilities at many train stations, bike parking areas, lockers, racks, and paths that run along transport routes. The city still has a long way to come as it mostly has a “shared path”—paths shared by cyclist