Bike Friendly Cities: How Seattle Stacks Up
So you think we’re bike-friendly? From Copenhagen to Portland, take a look at how we compare to our competition.
The first version of the Rose City Bicycle Plan was drafted in 1973. Portland’s current bike master plan was written in 1995 and is continually updated by city transit agencies, a Bicycle Advisory Committee and the City of Portland Bicycle Program. It has put Portland on the bike map, big time. The city’s Bikeway network—its grid of signed bicycle routes—now consists of 274 miles of bike-friendly streets and bridges, and bike ridership over Portland’s four bike bridges has increased by 490 percent since 1991.
Vancouver, British Columbia
Vancouver’s first bike plan was written in 1988, and since 1992, the city has more than quadrupled its signed bike routes, bike lanes and sharrows to nearly 250 miles. Bike ridership has risen commensurately, with the number of daily bike trips tripling since 1994. Vancouver’s work is far from finished; the city plans to continue to expand its bikeways, bike lanes and bike-friendly traffic signals.
Cities don’t get much more bike-friendly than Copenhagen, which boasts an extensive network of bike lanes that are separated from car traffic by curbs. Cyclists often have their own traffic signals, and the city offers free public bicycles; users can check them out for a returnable deposit of 20 kroner—only $3.60. As a result, 36 percent of the city’s residents commute by bicycle, and city officials predict that by 2015 more than half of Copenhagen’s population will commute by bike.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Amsterdam is known internationally for many things: the Van Gogh Museum, the Anne Frank House, cannabis coffee shops—and cycling. The Dutch metropolis is loaded with bike paths, bike lanes and streets that are closed to automobile traffic, which leads to more cycling and walking. And the city’s super-expensive car parking further encourages residents to take to two wheels. The average Dutch citizen bicycles 564 miles each year—that’s more than 1.5 miles each day.