Copenhagen Shames Aspiring Bike Cities, Again, With Opening of Superhighway

From Portland to Minneapolis, cities across the America have been trying to catch up to Copenhagen's world-renowned bicycling infrastructure. With the recent opening of a bike superhighway, the Danish capital is leaving other cities in the dust.
July 19, 2012, 7am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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The opening in April of the 11-mile-long cycle superhighway connecting Copenhagen to its western suburb of Albertslund, is the first of 26 routes intended to encourage long-distance bicycle commuting in the region around the Danish capital, reports Sally McGrane. In a city where half of the residents already bike to work or to school every day, the construction of the network of superhighways targets an area ripe for growth in bicycle use - suburban commuters, "most of whom use cars or public transportation to reach the city."

"While there is a good existing network of bicycle pathways around Copenhagen," notes McGrane, "standards across municipalities can be inconsistent, with some stretches having inadequate pavement, lighting or winter maintenance, as well as unsafe intersections and gaps." Hence, "For the superhighway project, Copenhagen and 21 local governments teamed up to ensure that there were contiguous, standardized bike routes into the capital across distances of up to 14 miles."

Although environmental and health benefits are stressed as key advantages of traveling by bike, "[Danish] commuters choose bicycles because they are the fastest and most convenient transportation option," writes McGrane. "'It's not because the Danes are more environmentally friendly,' said Gil Penalosa, executive director of 8-80 Cities, a Canadian organization that works to make cities healthier. 'It's not because they eat something different at breakfast.'"


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Published on Tuesday, July 17, 2012 in The New York Times
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