Bicycling paradise of the day

By Felix Salmon
October 15, 2009

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The morning and afternoon commute in Copenhagen is a spectacle involving tens of thousands of cyclists roaring down dedicated lanes in tight packs, past cars moving at half the speed, if at all…

Traffic lights that were once co-ordinated for car speeds were adjusted to cater to the pace of the average cyclist, allowing them to travel long distances without ever getting a red light. To increase safety, stop lines for cars are five metres behind those for bikes. Cyclists get a green light up to 12 seconds ahead of cars to help increase their visibility.

In the winter months, bike ridership drops off 20 per cent. Still, an armada of plows is ready to clear bike lanes when snow flies. They get priority over routes for cars.

How do other cities get there from here? Slowly. You don’t do everything at once, but instead just add things incrementally, until you reach the point at which cyclists outnumber car drivers. Lots of attitudes need to be changed, including those of today’s cyclists, who, in car-centered cities, tend to be highly aggressive. And attitudes change slowly. But it can — and should — be done.

(Via Florida)


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Now there’s a way to kill several birds with one stone. Better physical fitness, less pollution and greenhouse gas emission, less congestion in city centers, less need to rely on foreign sources of petroleum, less need to pay for a standing army, likely others.

Posted by borisjimbo | Report as abusive

Not a lot of downside to more bikes!

Posted by Rockfish | Report as abusive

Indeed, not a lot of downside. All of the above … and happier people at work as well.

Posted by ratherbecycling | Report as abusive

This works a lot better in cities which are generally flat.

Posted by dave.s. | Report as abusive

> This works a lot better in cities which are generally flat.

Ah, but we can spend our infrastructure money on elevated bike routes that provide efficient transport for the masses, rather than on freeways that are effectively parking lots for a good part of the day.

Posted by Greg | Report as abusive

This is a piece of heart-warming news for all cyclists in the world! It also indicates a few important points, first of all, a differentiated traffic light system that is coordinated for cyclists is helpful and achievable. Second, the attitudes of today’s cyclists need to be moderated for their aggressiveness. Third, there is a recognition that all these changes need time.

Posted by simonwheeler | Report as abusive