It's always been neck and neck between Amsterdam and Copenhagen but Amsterdam is relegated to second place in the 2015 Copenhagenize Index. While the city finished with a higher baseline score, it lagged behind in the race for bonus points. Amsterdam, like most Dutch cities, suffers from their insistence on maintaining a status quo, rather than trying to improve, think modern and take things to the next level.
One of the world's benchmark cities for cycling, Amsterdam has a leadership role for what they have done, as opposed to what they are doing and planning. Looking down the Top 20 list, there are cities who have gone from zeros to heroes in a short amount of time. Amsterdam must act in order to show the world how to continue developing, otherwise other cities will take over the innovation role. Instead of constant grumbling over all those bikes, see it as an opportunity and a unique selling point.
While the city enjoys a complete saturation of bicycles, it is time to tidy up. A more uniform network of bicycle infrastructure based on the Best Practice you know but fail to implement is the next long-term step. The same challenges face Amsterdam and Copenhagen regarding increasing cycling levels and creating the modern bicycle city. Copenhagen doesn't have the key just yet, but at least they are investing and thinking long and hard about it. Amsterdam twiddles its thumbs and doesn't really know where to go. Political will is required to move the city into the next level. And if the city gets serious about proposals like these they'll be back on track.
Amsterdam and many other Dutch cities need not fear for the competition in their region in the short term. While Antwerp, across the Belgian border, remains in the Top 20, a city like Brussels languishes in mid-table, as drab and uninspiring as EU politics. The larger German cities of the Rhine-Ruhr region - while ahead of most cities in America, for example, just go through the motions with little momentum for change.
The main fix is the actual desire for improvement. We’d like to see it. That would require politicians understanding better the importance of improving conditions for cyclists in the city and the economic value of doing so. The city should look carefully at the reasons that Copenhagen overtook them this year. Innovation and investment. Thinking about how to take cycling to the next level is Copenhagen’s trademark but there is no reason why Amsterdam shouldn’t be able to compete. Copenhagen’s investment in many new bridges over the harbour should be direct inspiration for Amsterdam to do the same. Fixing the ragtag spider’s web of curious infrastructure styles into something that is more intuitive is also a must.