Copenhagen artery to become cycle-only
- Via the Copenhagenize blog, an earlier article referred to in a recent
blog this week, and something more to add to the recent posting on
pedestrianisation in Copenhagen:
10 JANUARY 2008
The Drastic Measures of Visionaries
Politics is all too predictable, all too often.
Which is why a sudden and unexpected political decision is so welcome
The Mayor in charge of traffic and environment, Klaus Bondam, has a
city hall majority behind in his proposal to close off a major artery
into Copenhagen to through traffic.
Nørrebrogade is the name of the street and it has traditionally been
one of the main routes leading to the ancient centre of the Danish
capital. It is not particularly wide, given its history, and the
street has long been congested with traffic.
The proposal to close off the street to automobiles is radical and yet
it is popular. With a political majority behind the plan it could be
implemented already next year.
The primary reasons for taking these drastic measures are simple.
Decreasing pollution, increasing bike traffic and improving the
lifeblood of the neighbourhood.
As the head of the Danish Cyclist's Union says, "Cyclists are forced
to squeeze together on the bike lanes. Especially older people don't
feel comfortable riding, and the same goes for parents sending their
kids out onto the bike lanes. In rush hour people ride at many
different tempi and that can stress the slower cyclists".
Each day 75,000 people use the street. Of them only 15,000 are
motorists, whereas 35,000 are cyclists, making this route one of the
busiest in the city for bikes. This being Copenhagen there are bike
lanes in both directions, but bicycle congestion makes it tricky
riding this route. There is little room for making the bike lanes as
wide as on other streets, so removing the motorised traffic is the
only way to create safer bike lanes.
There are shouts of protest to be heard, most involving claims that
the shops on the street will suffer from lost business. The same
shouts were heard back in the 1960's and 1970's when Copenhagen began
creating its vast network of pedestrian streets, at the expense of the
car. Businesses didn't die. They thrived from the increase of
pedestrians and cyclists. As we pointed out in an earlier post,
cyclists are better shoppers than motorists, too.
One important angle is that upwards of 75% of the people who live in
the neighbourhood don't own a car, but they most certainly own a bike
or two. Why should they live with cars on their streets when they
don't choose to own one?
Innovation is not a foreign concept for Nørrebrogade. It was the
inaugural street for the new Green Wave programme, where the traffic
lights are coordinated for bike traffic for 2.5 km. If you ride 20 km/
h you'll hit green lights the whole way. We posted about this earlier.
It's exciting, to be honest. Because it's radical, visionary and
promising. The street has long been half-dead, with only the side
streets thriving. Now one of the main streets in the city will have a
chance to bloom. Increasing bike traffic and improving quality of life
for those who live there.
With Copenhagen having set the goal of being the world's environmental
capitalby 2015, this is an excellent start.
Read more about how many cyclists use the infrastructure in Copenhagen
on this post: Daily Bike Traffic Volume in Copenhagen.
Montreal QC Canada
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