In the 2013 Index we expressed surprise at Hamburg's inclusion in the Top 20 and, once again, we are surprised to see them maintain their place on the list. The city is no slouch on the global scale, but it is as though they are reluctant to modernise their infrastructure. We have actually heard a city planner say that he doesn't want to have protected bike lanes. With a straight face. They are seemingly content with their status quo of weird infrastructure that alternates between road and sidewalk without any logic and that isn't maintained in the winter. The city received bonus points for traffic calming with their plans to make the city centre car-free in the coming years, which helped them stay on the list. As far as modal share goes there are few cities outside Europe that can compete. Nevertheless, there is a black sheep in every family.
Addendum: 02 June 2015: It has come to our attention that the plans for Hamburg becoming car-free were reported wrongly in the English-language press. One might even call it a hoax. This German link was sent to us. Even if we reduce the bonus point allocation for Traffic Calming, Hamburg retains its place at #19.The Region
Smaller German cities in the region outperform Hamburg on many fronts and, when compared to Copenhagen, Amsterdam and Berlin, Hamburg pales in comparison.
Fix your bizarre infrastructure, Hamburg. Keep cyclists safe with the Best Practice solutions that are to be found just to the south in Amsterdam and to the north in Copenhagen. Your bold goals for a car-free city centre are great - if you pull it off - but you need to construct a solid and sensible network of infrastructure for bicycles to lead to that city centre.