12 December 2007

Copenhagen Bike Rush Hour

We found this little video over at Youtube. Here's a good example of rush hour on the bike lanes of Copenhagen.

This stretch of road heading out of the city centre is one of the most used. It will get on average over 25,000 bikes per day.

We have a post about Daily Bike Traffic Volume in Copenhagen here.


nabocadolobo said...

Wow! Indeed i envy you Copenhagen’s! This is something I can only dream off or ear about, will never happen in my country, a country with a dangerous strong car culture. Good for you folks!

Off topic, I know, but it was hard not to notice the strange vehicle that shows up on Bus lane… with no cabin! What is it?

Zakkaliciousness said...

Thanks! We use to be a car culture, too, but we beat it. So if we can do it, anyone can.

The vehicle you saw is unique to Copenhagen. it's a sausage wagon... they drive them out to the city's squares each day.

They're designed for walking them, but you can sit on them, too.

miketually said...

What a great video. I look forward to the day that Darlington has a bike congestion problem :)

I've just got back to work after riding over to see my daughter in her school nativity play. Sadly, I was the only parent arriving by bike. (My wife walked to the school.)

A friend who lived in Copenhagen years ago says the traffic noise used to keep her awake at night, so I'm optimistic that we can turn things around here too.

DeepBlueSea said...

Pretty civilized... you're beating obesity and preserving the environment in one fell swoop.

The video - it's just an incessant stream of riders. Except to the end when it thins out, there's a rotund old guy cruising along, and the sausage stand on wheels. Classic.

Zakkaliciousness said...

the sausage wagon was a fantastic bonus.

Anonymous said...

Get ready for 2009!


Zakkaliciousness said...

we're ready if you are!

Anonymous said...

Coincidentally, this story is featured in tWhat we can learn from Denmark

Though comparisons between Canada and Denmark are of limited use – the latter is small and mono-cultural, the former big and multicultural – there's much Canada might take from the Danes, who've dealt with issues with which Canadians have been wrestling.

Plan for the long-term: Denmark decided to wean itself off the car after the 1973 oil crisis. Almost 40 years later, they're still hard at it. The plan remains in place despite changes in government, and there's general acceptance of the strategy.

People are willing to pay higher taxes if they can see what they get in return. The politics of tax cuts have never worked, yet we hear it to this day. You get what you pay for. Anyone remember Walkerton?

Empower the cities: Danish cities levy personal income tax. Indeed, more than half the total P.I.T. paid by Danes goes to cities. This produces a constant revenue stream, which allows cities to plan ahead and take care of residents' needs.

Recommit to public transit: Governments in Canada have talked for years about expanding our inadequate transit system, with little to show for it. We remain auto-addicted and refuse to take mass transit seriously. The consequence has been dire – it's called sprawl – and will grow worse.

Take back the city from the car: In Canada, pedestrian zones have been discussed for decades, but again, with little to show. Denmark's pedestrian zones have been great for business and cities alike.

Integrate bicycles into the city: In Copenhagen, 40 per cent of trips in the city are on bike. The city has built lanes and separate traffic lights, and car drivers have learned to expect and respect cyclists. If the Danes can do it so can we. And, yes, the Danes do know what winter is.

- Christopher Hume

Traffic. Pollution. Daycare shortages. Chronic underfunding. How a country with the population of the GTA confronted the issues that diminish our cities – and what it can teach us

Dec 16, 2007 04:30 AM

COPENHAGEN — Never has small seemed so big.

Tiny Denmark, population 5.5 million, now ranks as a global economic and social leader. The World Economic Forum recently rated it the third-best country for business on the planet (after the U.S. and Switzerland. Canada is 13th).

What makes the ranking doubly remarkable is Denmark's commitment to the welfare state. Taxes here are easily double those of Canada, with top rates as high as 59 per cent. But Danes appear to pay up with a minimum of griping. Perhaps that's because they get so much in return, including free daycare and post-secondary education, excellent public transit, and reliable unemployment insurance as well as health services.

And wandering the streets of the Danish capital, it's clear that the Danes have positioned themselves to take advantage of 21st-century global capitalism without sacrificing the qualities that make their country unique. Copenhagen may not be the most beautiful city in the world, but the mix of old and new, modest and monumental, big and small, makes it absolutely compelling.

This is partly because of the cyclists, riding in their own lanes, and actually signalling when they turn. It's also the Stroget, the famous pedestrian thoroughfare that winds from the main civic square through downtown. It's the wonderful relationship between the city and the water, which permeates the built environment in the manner of a northern Venice. It's also the contemporary architecture, especially residential, that proposes new forms of housing.

More than that, perhaps, it's the embrace of change. The Danes aren't exactly a wild and crazy bunch, but they decide to do something and do it. It's really that simple. A good example is the subway that Copenhagen decided to build in the 1990s. The first line opened in 2002 and since then new routes have been added regularly. Among other things, it gets you to the airport from downtown in less than 15 minutes.

When the city set out to pedestrianize the Stroget back in the 1970s, the merchants cried bloody murder. But civic officials persisted and now it's the premier shopping district in a community that loves consumerism every bit as much as do we North Americans.

And there's also an obviously vibrant café culture in Copenhagen, one that dates back less than 40 years. When it's cold outside, proprietors put blankets on the chairs for their customers' use.

When one thinks of Toronto's feeble attempts to close Kensington Market to cars and to increase bicycle lanes – let alone our ongoing struggle to expand or even adequately fund public transit – one cringes.

In many ways, the story of modern Denmark began in 1973, when the world was shaken by an oil crisis that saw the price of a barrel of oil rise from $2.59 (U.S.) in October of that year to $11.63 (U.S.) in January 1974. Once the panic – and the cost of oil – had subsided, much of the world, including Canada, went back to its old ways.

Not the Danes. Rattled by what had happened, and not having much in the way of natural resources, they took the lessons of '73 to heart and set out to wean themselves off oil.

Thirty-plus years later, they're decades ahead of the rest of us. For example, the bicycle system that covers Copenhagen was launched back in the '70s.

Now, 40 per cent of all journeys in the city are on bicycle.

By 2015, Copenhageners are hoping for 50 per cent. This commitment to cycling was demonstrated four years ago when the new national library opened. Planners decided it would have no parking for cars. Instead, they opted for several hundred bike parking spots.

Then there's the 180 per cent car registration tax levied on new vehicles, which along with a 25 per cent Value Added Tax has reduced traffic significantly. The car tax, introduced in the 1970s, deliberately made it difficult and expensive to own a car. That it has survived many changes in government testifies to the public support it enjoys.

More recently, the Danes embarked on an ambitious wind-turbine program that they expect will provide 30 per cent of the country's power within 10 to 20 years.

As for municipal finances, Danish cities are in much better shape than their Canadian counterparts. The reason is simple: Half of the total income tax Danes pay goes to their municipality. The rest goes to the regional and national governments.

The reasoning is that the municipality provides the vast bulk of the services that citizens expect, therefore, it should receive the bulk of tax revenues.

Only the Swedes pay higher taxes than the Danes. Yet the World Economic Forum ranks Denmark and Sweden third and fourth, respectively, in global competitiveness, behind only the U.S. and Switzerland.

A factor might be that Danish society is remarkably cohesive, even mono-cultural. Danes speak the same language and share a common history going back more than a thousand years.

On the other hand, unlike Canada, now a nation of immigrants, Denmark finds it harder to integrate outsiders. Recent immigration laws are considered the toughest in Europe.

Still, despite its ups and downs, the Danish welfare experiment has succeeded. At the very least, it should force us to rethink the all-too-familiar North American argument that economic prosperity and high taxes are inimical.

The Danes, and their Scandinavian neighbours, have proved that the two can co-exist not only peacefully but also profitably.

It's not that the Danish don't believe in the market – indeed, they want a bigger share of it – but they also understand that it alone cannot ensure quality of life.

The notion that Canadian-style civic impoverishment is a precondition to private wealth can no longer be taken seriously. You get what you pay for, of course, which is why the Danes have so much more.

population 5.5 million, now ranks as a global economic and social leader. The World Economic Forum recently rated it the third-best country for business on the planet (after the U.S. and Switzerland. Canada is 13th).

oday's Toronto Star:

Zakkaliciousness said...

Thanks for that post, anon.

Very interesting reading. Always interesting to read how others view this country.

One point worth mentioning. While Denmark is the focus of the article, one can easily include Sweden, Norway and Finland in the same group. Countries with a very similar system and way of life.

That gives you a region of 23 million people and THAT is more of a comparison with Canada's 30 million.

Doesn't make Canada look any better, though... ;-)

Anonymous said...

Zak -
Liked your article in CityCycling online mag about how to get more people out of their cars.
Think we cyclists are maybe too 'tribal'. I use a tandem to cycle with my daughter and despite doing this for ten years now it's still a strange vehicle as far as most people are concerned. In Edinburgh there has been some progress to make bikes fit in. Seeing people waste money on cars that go nowhere in the city is sad but it a trend that shows no sign of stopping. I once thought that cycling would change other peoples minds but on the whole it is seen as unusual and maybe putting yourself and child at risk. The road as raging torrent etc.
The future does look brighter though! Increased car ownership means lower traffic speeds! Once we have electric cars the roads will still be jammed but with less pollution (in the city).

john said...

Hello Zak
I love your Cycle Lanes they are twice the width of our Widest Lanes which is 1.25 metre or 3 1/2 Feet yours look like 2 metre or 6 feet.A lot of them are only 1/2 Metre or 1/1/2 Feet sometimes. I was even Nudged off my Bike Two Years ago during the Rush Hour in Dublin on the Cycle Lane by a Car. Things are slowly getting better,but it is a fight with the Car Lobby all the time. We have a couple of Traffic Free Areas but they only become so after 10 am in the Morning. There is a Proposal to make an Area from O Connell Street to Dame Street Traffic Free but it is up against the Traders and Car Lobby.We are due the Parisienne Style Bike Velib by next Springtime as promised ,so we live in hope . Also we are promised a Metro eventually in the Future Time. I notice there are a few Idiots with Helmets perhaps 5 People on your Film . I think for us the worse time for Cycling in Dublin is the Rush Hour in morning and Evening, it can be dangerous even on the Cycle Lanes, and especially in the City Centre around Colllege Green and dame Street. We have a long long way to go to catch up to Copenhagen and Amsterdam, to much Negative thinking from some People, with some People well dispose to Traffic free and the rest pro Business and Cars.

Zakkaliciousness said...

thanks for your in depth comments everyone!