Cycling Barometer 2015: Netherlands one of Europe’s top bike havens

Cycling Barometer 2015: Netherlands one of Europe’s top bike havens

This year the European Cycling Federation (ECF) published the second-ever edition of its Cycling Barometer, a report aimed to shed light on cycling trends in all 27 EU countries.

Cycling hotspots in Europe

Using data from five verifiable EU-wide surveys on cycling, the ECF assigned points to countries in five categories. Scores from all categories were then combined to create an overall ranking. 

On the whole, the most bike-friendly European country of 2015 is Denmark, with the Netherlands coming in at second place. But cycling in the Netherlands scored highly in all five sub-indexes:

› Cycling Advocacy

Denmark came first in the Cycling Advocacy category for its well-organised, vocal biking community. The Netherlands placed fourth, after Luxembourg and Belgium.

› Cycling Usage

A whopping 35 per cent of people in the Netherlands report cycling as their favoured mode of transportation, making the Dutch the far-and-away winner in this category. Runner-up was Denmark, with under 25 per cent of the population preferring bikes.

› Cycling Tourism

Finland was the clear winner of the Cycling Tourism category, based on the number of bike trips tourists take in the country. Sweden, Hungary and the Netherlands followed.

› Road Safety

Luxembourg and Malta tied for Road Safety, with close to zero biking fatalities. Sweden was the runner-up, followed by the Netherlands.

› Market Size

The is a larger market for bikes in Slovenia than anywhere else in Europe. In the Netherlands, which placed fifth, only half as many bikes are sold annually per 1000 inhabitants as in Slovenia.

European trends

The first edition of the Cycling Barometer was published in 2013. That year, the Netherlands tied with Denmark for first place overall.

Looking at which countries have moved up or down in the rankings over the past two years allows the ECF to track the effectiveness of cycling improvements and advocacy campaigns.

"ECF cycling barometer - summary" by Federation European Cyclists. CC BY 2.0.

The results show that cycling has become notably more popular in Slovenia than it was in 2013, and significantly safer in Luxembourg due to better mobilization of the bike community. Spain showed improvement in every category.

On the other hand, although Dublin has recently invested in improving cycling conditions, Irish people are biking less often than they were two years ago.

Raising cycling awareness

A central aim of the Cycling Barometer is to raise awareness of the current lack of reliable EU-wide studies on cycling behaviour.

According to the ECF, there is a need for comprehensive data that can be used to inform effective cycling policy.

The five surveys used in the Cycling Barometer are intended as a starting point for Europe-wide studies of cycling developments, so that successful policies can be developed, shared and adapted in collaboration.

The Cycling Barometer top 10

1 Denmark
2 The Netherlands
3 Sweden
4 Finland
5 Germany
6 Belgium
7 Slovenia
8 Hungary
9 Austria
10 Slovakia and the UK (tied)
Emily McCallum


Emily McCallum

Emily grew up in a small coastal town in western Canada and moved to Utrecht in 2014, after completing her studies in Vancouver and Germany. So far, she has been...

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