Friday, December 14, 2012

Copenhagen Does Cycling Right

Copenhagen should be the blueprint for all major cities when it comes to combining vehicular and cycling traffic. Cycling is a way of life there and the city is designed with that in mind. The above 2 links at the top chronicles cycling culture in Copenhagen. I have also included the cyclechic links for Toronto and Ottawa as well. For the vast majority in Copenhagen it doesn't involve bike or triathlon racing - it's just an everyday mode of transportation with varying styles.

As you can see from the pictures above weather is not an issue! In the top picture in the background stands a neon-digital counter. It counts all the cyclists at a main intersection for the day and also a yearly tally. Here's a closeup picture of one of the counters. started in 2007, highlighting the cycling life in Copenhagen.

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. They all use over 1000 km of bicycle lanes in Greater Copenhagen for their journeys. Copenhagenizing is possible anywhere. I realize, for some namely those that have significant commutes, a lot of this is not possible. It is more for those short personal trips that often are under 5K where changes can be made.

Where I live things are improving. My neighbourhood, a newer subdivision, has bike lanes down the central street. During the mild weather we routinely use it as we make our way to the community park in the neighbourhood and also for running year round. The only drawback is that everything from drugstores, bookstores, restaurants, movie theatre and coffee shops are exactly 1 mile away - sounds short enough but unfortunately it is on a road that is very tight for space, has high vehicular traffic and is not well lit, especially during this time of year. Once beyond this mile there are numerous bike lanes and it is well connected. As an example, I recently thought about going to the drug store on my bike but this particular stretch of road is dangerous enough that I jumped in the car instead and drove the 5K out and back. If this road were to ever have a bike lane or even a sidewalk it would get used a lot! There are a lot of people in my neighbourhood that would consider walking to Starbucks or Tim Horton's, Indigo Books or the movies if it were safe to do so. To go to the movies or Starbucks from my house would take 15 minutes, probably about 5minutes on a bike. The impact and necessity of safe passage here will increase greatly once the new high school is completed next fall and a couple of thousand students start making the unsafe trek back and forth to where all the shops are.

Who knows what the city will do but this highlights one example of how we can encourage alternative modes of transportation and get healthy in the process. This concludes my soapbox chat for the day!


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