Despite being new to the Copenhagenize Index this year, Strasbourg has long been the premier cycling city in France. The yardstick that all other cities have - often reluctantly - measured themselves by. We have literally heard planners in other cities grumble that Strasbourg is "half-German", as though that was an excuse for their high cycling levels. What Strasbourg has achieved, however, is the result of a generation of planners who have insisted on cycling as transport. They have planted the seeds and the garden is blooming.
Cycling in Strasbourg is a pleasant affair and, as it should be, the quickest way from A to B. There are 536 km of cycle routes in the city and surrounding metro area and the city has a unique bike share system. Vélhop lets you get a bike share bike from docking stations but also has long term rental. We don't think we've seen a city with so many bike share bikes on the streets, including many customised with added kids' seats and baskets. The city enjoys 15% modal share in the city centre and 8% in the metro area and it is unique in that there are more cargo bikes than in most cities in Europe.
There is consistent political will to at the least maintain current cycling levels. What remains to be seen is whether the city has what it takes to take things to the next level and achieve the cycling rates seen in the Netherlands and Denmark. France - indeed every country - needs a leader to follow. One city that insists on improving and provides inspiration for the rest. Strasbourg has rested on their laurels for a number of years but now is the time to go further.
On the French side of the border, Strasbourg stands alone as a pillar of modernity in the region. Looking in other directions in the region, there is little inspiration for them from other cities except perhaps Basel, which was not ranked in the Index. Geneva and Zurich are both in the bottom half of the table and German cities like Stuttgart and Frankfurt have yet to make any concerted effort to modernise with a push for more urban cycling.
The baseline for Strasbourg's success is the fact that they have borrowed freely from German cities in the region. It has created a good foundation. The Germans, however, are not exactly the best role model when it comes to bicycle infrastructure. If Strasbourg wants to move to the next level, it's time to look long and hard at the Netherlands and Denmark. The network is only intuitive if you live there. It is a strange combination of infrastructure styles. When uniformity is brought to the equation and serious decisions are made, there will be no reason why Strasbourg shouldn't be able to fly through the 30% modal share barrier.