If the world cycled as much as the Dutch, CO2 emissions from cars would fall 20%. In the Netherlands, people cycle an average of 2.6 km a day. The country has more bicycles than people, and a quarter of all journeys are made on them.
According to the American Journal of Public Health, cycling add six months to the average life expectancy saving more than 3% of national GDP. If the whole planet cycled as much, about 680 million tonnes of CO2 pollution could be avoided every year. That’s a fifth of emissions from passenger cars.
The Netherlands has built masses of cycling infrastructure with more than 35,000 km of cycle lanes, a quarter of the country’s entire road network. It has created the world’s biggest underground park in Utrecht. Dutch people also rank highly on green awareness and have an established cycling culture. Their famous flat landscape helps too.
Globally, scientists found that bike ownership has grown faster than car ownership since 1962 but bikes are still used for less than 5% of daily trips. They are calling for a “worldwide pro-bicycle policy and infrastructure” to boost this number.
The transport sector is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. In the EU, it accounts for 27% of CO2 emissions. Globally, passenger road transport is predicted to triple by 2050.
Utrecht was named as the world’s most bicycle friendly city by the Global Bicycle Cities Index 2022, the World Economic Forum reports. The study, conducted by digital insurance company Luko, analyzed 90 cities across the globe, based on indicators grouped under six categories: the weather, bicycle usage, crime & safety, infrastructure, bike sharing opportunities and awareness events such as ‘No Car Day’.
The final results are presented on a scale from 0 to 100, where the higher the score, the better the city. Utrecht is joined by eight other European cities in the top 10, with Hangzhou (China) the only non-European city in the top tier of the ranking.
No American cities have made it onto the top 10 roundup, with San Francisco the highest-ranked U.S. city coming in at 39th place. Portland and Seattle are also among the top 50, in 41st and 50th respectively. U.S. metropolises aren’t known for being as bike-friendly as many of their European counterparts, where cycling for everyday transportation is more deeply ingrained in the culture.