Flickr/Pug Freak

The Dutch are in dead last, and one program stands above the rest.

Comparing the world's bikeshare programs is a formidable task—there are now over 160 of them, 29 in France alone. But this month we get a little closer to knowing where the best places to share bikes are, at least in Europe, information that could be useful to city planners and irresistible to urban comparison fiends.

The new rankings come thanks to the German Automobile Club, of all places. The ADAC rankings evaluate European bikeshare systems in four categories: accessibility, information, operation, and bicycles. The conclusions — sharing bikes is good for the planet and could reduce Germany's car use — seem obvious, but the details are more interesting. The short of it:

Highlights: in Prague, there’s a free mobile app. In Lyon, you can call a toll-free bikeshare hotline. In Stockholm, there are some unusually cool-looking bikes.

Lowlights: in Utrecht, instructions are only in Dutch. In Bari, you must be 18 or older.

Weird: in Luxembourg, the system is called—after the French word for bicycle—vel’OH!, which sounds like you just crashed your bike.

Evidently the ADAC is a discerning body, for out of the 40 programs in 18 countries surveyed, only the French culinary capital Lyon received the overall "very good" rank. (And that despite a modest grade of "sufficient" for their bicycles.) Several cities—Brussels, Paris, Berlin, Stuttgart, Nuremberg, Turin, and Valencia—received positive ranks in every category. In sheer size, Paris’ Vélib dominates the competition, with 1,751 stations and 23,900 bikes. The runner-up, London’s Barclays City Hire, is about one third that size, with 558 stations and 9,200 bikes.

The outright losers in this survey are the Dutch, whose programs in Utrecht, Amsterdam, and the Hague all received the lowest marks of sehr mangelhaft—very poor. Martti Tulenheimo, the urban mobility polity officer at the European Cycling Federation, thought there might be an institutional difference in the Netherlands: "The real answer may be that the Dutch take an entirely different approach. Their bikeshare scheme is more of a national system run by the national railway company, which appeals to an entirely different market."

But Denmark, Europe’s other bicycle paradise, also received relatively low marks for systems in Aarhus and Copenhagen. Since so many Danes and Dutch have their own bikes, bikeshare systems there might be only marginally useful to the natives, and hence poorly maintained. Amsterdam and Copenhagen also both have an extensive bicycle rental industry that has targeted tourists for years.

If you can read German, here’s the entire list.

And if not, you can settle for this janky Google-translated page

Top image: Flickr user Pug Freak.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. photo: Police line up outside the White House in Washington, D.C. as protests against the killing of George Floyd continue.
    Perspective

    America’s Cities Were Designed to Oppress

    Architects and planners have an obligation to protect health, safety and welfare through the spaces we design. As the George Floyd protests reveal, we’ve failed.

  2. A photo of a police officer in El Paso, Texas.
    Equity

    What New Research Says About Race and Police Shootings

    Two new studies have revived the long-running debate over how police respond to white criminal suspects versus African Americans.

  3. Equity

    What Happened to Crime in Camden?

    Often ranked as one of the deadliest cities in America, Camden, New Jersey, ended 2017 with its lowest homicide rate since the 1980s.

  4. A participant holding a Defund Police sign at the protest in Brooklyn.
    Equity

    The Movement Behind LA's Decision to Cut Its Police Budget

    As national protesters call for defunding police, a movement for anti-racist “people’s budgets” is spreading from LA to Nashville to Grand Rapids.

  5. photo: Police in riot gear march down Plymouth Avenue during riots in North Minneapolis on July 21, 1967.
    Equity

    Why This Started in Minneapolis

    Conditions that led to George Floyd’s death are not unique to Minneapolis and St. Paul. But there’s a reason why the Twin Cities triggered a national uprising.

×