29 March 2008

Intelligent Traffic Control in Copenhagen

Bike Symbol with Red Flavour
The Mayor in charge of traffic and environment, Klaus Bondam, has a new idea. He has been trying, together with the Lord Mayor Ritt Bjerregaard, to implement road pricing in Copenhagen in order to limit the amount of motorised traffic.

The problem is that the national government is of the right-wing variety and they are blocking the plans. Even though the studies from cities that have road pricing are overwhelmingly positive.

So he has now proposed something City Hall calls '
Intelligent Traffic Control'.

It involves setting up sensors that measure air pollution in Copenhagen and the levels of pollution they report will regulate the traffic heading into the city.

If the pollution levels are too high on any particular day, all the traffic lights on the main roads into the city will turn red and stay red longer than normal. The time the traffic lights are green will be reduced by 10 percent.

Motorists will be informed by the internet or text messages before they leave for work so they can choose alternative transport forms.

"It will create queues on some of the approach roads, but it certainly our hope that people will think about it. The signal we want to send is that you have to use your car with careful consideration", says Klaus Bondam.

He is aware that cars still pollute when they're stopped at a red light but: "There are fewer people in the areas in question than there is in the densely populated areas. But the whole idea is to get people to leave the car at home", he says.

Won't this make life miserable for motorists?

"It's about cutting down on the Co2 emissions that the transport sector is responsible for. Besides, we have to adjust to the fact that more and more people are living and working in the city", says Klaus Bondam.

He would prefer the proposed road pricing scheme, which would charge money for driving into the city, but the national government has blocked that initiative.

"As long as we can't use road pricing, we must use other ideas in order to lower emissions." He is ready to tackle angry motorists.

"I don't mind getting spanked for being unpopular. There are few other things that people get so emotional about than their car. If they don't agree with me, they can vote differently at the next election. I've never disguised what I think", says the mayor.

»Motorists think they're protected from harmful emissions because they're sitting in their car. But that is the biggest old wive's tale. You're exposed to the emissions, maybe even more so than others."

He refers to the fact that 800 Copenhageners die prematurely each year because of pollution.

"Either we can not do anything and let the CO2 levels rise and rise, along with the illnesses that follow", he says.

"Or we can make a choice as a society and say that it's not enough to treat the symptoms. Denmark has a responsibility to lead the world on an environmental level", says Bondam.

He will reserve 7 million kroner for a pilot project.

via: politiken.dk


WestfieldWanderer said...

Interesting idea.

It's good to hear about politicians trying to do what's right rather than trying to do what they think will keep themselves in power.

WestfieldWanderer said...

"Either we can not do anything and let the CO2 levels rise and rise, along with the illnesses that follow",

Someone's just pointed out to me that CO2 isn't actually poisonous. He's right, of course, it's all the other mucky gasses, like CO, that causes the illnesses.

Too much CO2 will contribute to us either frying or drowning, depending on our location...

João Paulo Esperança said...

Hi. I just found your blogs and I love them. I read in one of your post that you want to know about bicycles in other places, so I'm going to tell you about a Portuguese blog I just found.


The guys writing it are two friends who decided to travel to Dakar but they only had 1000 euro each, so they are going by bicycle because it's cheaper. They weren't into bike sports or bike promotion movement or anything like that before starting their trip, they just needed cheap transportation. Sometimes they take the bikes in a bus, they’re not trying to prove that they can get there exclusively by bike, but they mostly use the bikes. They’re somewhere in Morocco now. And the bikes they’re using are just the normal ones you can buy at the supermarket:


Nice, ha?

Zakkaliciousness said...

very interesting, both of you. thanks for commenting.
you're right about Co2 westfield. it's the particles in the exhaust that it's all about. my translation mistake.

and what great journey to Dakar on regular bikes! thanks!

Erik Sandblom said...

I borrowed your photo to write a copy-cat story on Ecoprofile in Swedish. Hope that's ok.

Mer rödljus renar luften i Köpenhamn

They covered the bad air on national radio today. You can listen again at Studio Ett. They said people living along the E4 in Umeå and other roads with heavy traffic have a 30% higher mortality rate. No typo, thirty per cent. The high number is partially explained by studded tyres used in Sweden in the winter. They tear up nasty particles.

Local politicians want to build a ring road and move the traffic out of town. There are two problems with that, one, the emissions continue, just somewhere else; two, more and faster roads create more and faster traffic. It's like treating an alchoholic with more alchohol.

Luckily Umeå has a good bike culture to build on, 18% of all trips are done by bicycle.

Fritz said...

The Intelligent Traffic Control is a brilliant idea!

Air pollution levels are monitored on a continuous basis in all large U.S. cities. When air pollution levels are forecast to reach certain levels, the transportation management agencies make a special push to promote "alternative" modes of transportation and in some areas public transportation is free or reduced fare on high pollution days, but these are all purely voluntary measures of dubious effectiveness. Copenhagen's idea to discourage driving through signal timings is intersting.

christhebull said...

Won't cars just waste fuel and continue polluting when their engines are idling at traffic lights?

Mikael said...

cars will still pollute, but it will be in the peripheral areas of the city, not in the densely-populated city centre where all the people are.