Congestion and traffic jams are major problems in the majority of the metropolises all over the world and the problem will only get worse in the future unless something radical is done.
In London, traffic is so heavy during rush hours that today the inhabitants are using an equal amount of time to go from A to B as they did 100 years ago (source). And it should be noted that back then they did not go by car but by horse carriage!
In New Delhi, in India, the vehicle traffic is so massive that it is faster to walk than to travel by car or bus.
Copenhagen, the Danish capital, is one of the world’s best cycling cities. Biking is the most obvious choice because it is an easy, quick and inexpensive way to get around. Everyone here goes around on bikes –students, parents with their children, businessmen as well as senior citizens.
Every day Copenhagen residents travel a total of approximately 1.3 million kilometres on their bikes, which means that more than a third of all trips are made on two wheels. Yet the city has a major issue as to how these same streets will be able to absorb a growing need for facilities for bikes in the future.
In 2025 it is predicted that the population will have increased by 100,000 people, and it is envisioned that each day an additional 150,000 bicycle trips, 200,000 trips by public transport and around 250,000 car trips will be made.
The big dilemma is how urban planners, architects and politicians can secure the future of Copenhagen, so there is room for accessibility, urban life and attractive urban spaces. And how to decide which road users must be given priority when there’s not enough room to fulfill everyone’s desired need for space.
However, different cities have different needs. Common for them all is that it is not always possible to create better accessibility for a specific group of road users without making restrictions to other groups. In every city there must be easy access to shops and recreational open spaces, pedestrians must have good and safe conditions, cyclists require accessibility and a continuous network, buses must be effective and cars will still require road space and parking facilities. To be precise: a city must embrace all kinds of users – a city must be for everyone!
The City of Copenhagen also wants to be carbon-neutral in 2025, and in that context, it makes sense to think of green mobility and sustainable transport solutions. To achieve this, it will require huge investment, political support and a continued positive growing cycling culture among citizens to reach the target of carbon neutrality.
However, if this radical target can be achieved in Copenhagen – a city where it often rains and with low temperatures in winter, can we achieve this in other cities around the world that suffer from traffic congestion? Can we create a cycling culture in countries where the car is a status symbol, or to reconstruct and convert the so-called car-cities into supporters of more sustainable transport modes?