Looking at Copenhagen with Jealous Eyes

Copenhagen's positive attributes are clear, but how transferable are they?

July 3, 2017, 2:00 PM PDT

By Casey Brazeal @northandclark


Copenhagen Bikes

William Perugini / Shutterstock

For years, American urbanists have visited Copenhagen and returned with what Macho Man Randy Savage once called "jealous eyes." The city’s thriving active transit community, density and overall civility are legendary. Martin C. Pedersen writes in Common Edge that there's good reason for the city's success: "It’s the product of a shared belief that transcends urban design, even though the city is a veritable laboratory for pretty much all of the best practices in the field."

While fewer than one percent of Americans bike to work, "Half of its residents commute to work on bikes (snow or shine), a large number even for Europe," Pedersen writes. Bike safety is taught to Copenhagen residents up through high school.

While American cities must move toward some of Copenhagen’s accomplishments to become more sustainable and equitable, Pedersen is realistic about how difficult it would be to "transfer" the city's success. One issue is that, as a city of 600,000, Copenhagen's challenges differ from a larger city's challenges. For instance, the city is getting richer and is, consequently, struggling to make room for lower income families. Tensions also simmer around the topic of immigrants. To export the city's strengths without its weaknesses is a tricky task.

Monday, June 26, 2017 in Common Edge

The New York Public Library's stone lions Patience and Fortitude have donned face masks to remind New Yorkers to wear face coverings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Top Urban Planning Books of 2021

Planetizen's annual list of the top urban planning books of the year is here—maintaining a tradition that dates back to 2002.

November 26, 2021 - James Brasuell

Empty Road

The Roadway Expansion Paradox

Motorists want expensive roadway expansions provided that somebody else foots the bill, but when required to pay directly through tolls, the need for more capacity often disappears. What should planners do?

November 28, 2021 - Todd Litman

Moving

Urban Exodus: Data Don't Support the Popular Pandemic Narrative

Americans fled cities in waves during the pandemic, right? Not to so fast.

November 30, 2021 - Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University

A mile marker showing mile zero of the Great Allegheny Passage, which is a bike and pedestrian path that begins in Cumberland, Maryland and ends in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Measuring the Economic Impact of the Great Allegheny Passage

Small communities once dependent on coal, coke, paper, lumber, and manufacturing now have a 150-mile bike and pedestrian path contributing to the local economy.

39 minutes ago - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Houston, Texas

Houston Could End Homelessness With Less Than 2,000 Housing Units

Houston's homeless response program has yielded strong results in the last few years. Just 1,900 new affordable housing units could 'effectively end' homelessness in the city.

1 hour ago - Rice Kinder Institute for Urban Research

California State Capital

Land Use Regulations on a Collision Course in California

The future of planning in California depends on how lawyers reconcile the Housing Accountability Act with the California Environmental Quality Act.

2 hours ago - State & Local Government Law Blog

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.