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40 years ago Copenhagen was just as car-clogged as anywhere else but now 36% of the population arriving at work or education do so on bicycles, from all over the Metro area. 50% of Copenhageners themselves use bicycles each day. During the mobility study visit at the URBACT conference in Copenhagen we met cycling guru Mikael Colville-Andersen of Copenhagenize
In sub-zero temperatures he showed us some of the cycle highways and facilities that campaigners have fought for over the last few decades, and that are contributing to Copenhagen’s status as a world leader in green urban mobility. Mikael now consults many cities around the world to support urban cycling booms, and cited Paris, Barcelona, Sevilla, Ljubljana and Budapest as demonstrating very promising trends.
Particularly memorable for me were some of the features that make cycling an enjoyable, safe and easy option. The ideal size of the bicycle lane is called ‘a conversation lane’, meaning two cyclists can ride alongside each other having a conversation, and a third cyclist has space to overtake them. On the highways into and out of the city of cyclists pedalling at 20 km an hour will find all of the traffic lights tripping green so they don’t have to stop. And even if they do have to stop at lights they have a side rail to hold on to and rest their leg on, a bin for their rubbish, and the light turning green for them ahead of the car traffic behind them.
We saw many ‘Copenhagen SUVs’-cargo bikes for carrying the family-, and heard that 70% of families in Copenhagen make use of one. The traffic jams dropping kids off at school and nursery are of cargo bikes not cars. At the Bike Innovation Lab we took a look around the bicycle library, where residents and visitors can view a selection of bikes and rent them to test them out before deciding which would suit them best.
The most important factors to kickstart mass cycling in the cities, according to Copenhagenize, is to introduce a public bike rental scheme, create cycle lanes and parks and most of all make it easy, cheap and efficient for everyone to cycle. Inspiration for all of us from a city that shows that it can be done.
Photo by András Ekés