The Copenhagenize Index and the battle of the open space

Lill I. D. Bjerregaard | 20 Jan 2017 | Comments

Yes, it feels great when you read in the Copenhagenize Index that Copenhagen has outpaced Amsterdam as the world’s most bicycle-friendly city. Not least, because Amsterdam normally is a goalpost for us in Copenhagen. But if Copenhagen is to stay at the top of the list as a leading cycling city, the next step in the development of a future-proof bicycle infrastructure will be at the drivers' expense.

A third of Copenhageners commute daily to work or school by bicycle and it is not unusual to see people in suits, high heels and skirts effortlessly pedaling past. And this is exactly the image the City of Copenhagen wants to keep in people’s mind when they think of Copenhagen.

During the next decade, the goal is to have 50% of all Copenhageners bike daily (and/or use more public transportation). Today’s modal split for cyclists is 41% in the city centre and Amsterdam is up at 48%.

To reach the ambitious goal, Copenhagen needs (almost) zero growth in car traffic and at the same time a dramatic effort in public transport and cycling infrastructure. Many of the easy improvements to get more people to bike have already been rolled out, and the next step must address some more challenging problems.

The City of Copenhagen concludes three fundamental elements that must be in place to increase cycling in the Danish capital:
• accessibility – both for slow and fast cyclists
• more and better bicycle parking at stations and shopping areas
• safety and sense of security for cyclists.

Common for them all is the lack of space.

As an example, the bike path on the bridge Knippelsbro today constitutes 33% of the total space of the road while the number of cyclists here are 55% of all drivers, according to the municipality's review of cycling conditions in Copenhagen. Furthermore, car parking at street level occupies twice as much space in general as the entire network of bicycle infrastructure.

A new report by the City of Copenhagen identifies 24 specific projects to accommodate the future cycling strategy. Some of the most interesting and radical solutions are focusing on reducing car parking lots and using car lanes for the bicycle's advantage.

Also changing traffic rules in favour of cyclists is appealing, but can be a thorny issue. Finally, the City of Copenhagen suggests more “bicycle education” both for children and for immigrants to accommodate the general safety issues.

All recommendations and more will ensure that Copenhagen stays at the top of the list as a leading cycling city and the conclusion is very clear; besides investments, a future-proof bicycle infrastructure will be at the drivers' expense. In that case, will Copenhagen dare to spend money and choose radical solutions to solve the future issues?

I am curious to see how Copenhagen will maintain at the top of The Copenhagenize Index, and how this will effect the infrastructure and the citizen’s traffic habits in the future.