Denmark Puts Out a Superhighway for Commuting by Bicycle
In April, Copenhagen opened the first of 26 planned “bicycle superhighways” in the hopes that more of its residents would opt out of driving a car to work. To lure bikers, the city has equipped the 11-mile path from Copenhagen to the suburb Alberslund with “green wave” technology that times traffic lights for greatest bike efficiency and footrests where weary commuters can take a breather. A story in Tuesday’s New York Times highlighted the initiative.
Biking is already wildly popular within the capital because it is the fastest and easiest way to get to work or school. Copenhagen has been redesigning its streets for years now in order to make biking the norm. The city is now so bike-friendly that it has spawned a new urban planning concept: “Copenhagenization” or urban planning centered around making cities less car dependent. According to the Cycling Embassy of Denmark, 36 percent of all Danish adults rode a bike to work and 45 percent of all Danish children biked to school in 2010.
City planners hope that with the construction of bicycle highways, the cycling craze will catch on in the more distant suburbs. Many suburbanites still choose to drive to work out of convenience—the distance was too far, the path too winding, the roads too dark or too damaged. Superhighways will change that. According to the Cycling Embassy of Denmark website, the cycle superhighways could increase the number of cyclists by 30 percent, adding 15,000 more cyclists to the superhighway network, saving 7000 tons of CO2 and 300 million Danish Krones in health costs per year.
For this first highway, the city’s government joined forces with 21 local governments to create the highest-standard bike paths possible. A governmental body called Capital Region Denmark responsible for public hospitals and regional development, funded the superhighway project to the tune of 1.6 million dollars.