The current Danish government has hardly been synonymous with 'environmentally friendly' during the time they've spent in power. Things are, however, changing slowly. It's as though some intern mumbled to the ministers "um... the whole world is coming in December 2009 to the UN Climate Conference... um... shouldn't we try and look a little bit green?..."
The government, in collaboration with all the other parties in the Danish parliment, bar one, launched a new traffic plan on January 29th.
The Minister of Finance, Lars Barfoed, said that it was "two-thirds green and one-third black". Meaning two-thirds of the 94 billion kroner [€12.5 billion/$16 billion] budget will go to collective traffic and bicycles and one-third to asphalt/roads.
1 billion is earmarked for bicycle infrastructure and related projects and Barfoed says it's the largest amount set aside for cycling in modern times.
It is rare that a federal government in Denmark places cycling firmly in a transport budget. It has always been the responsibility of a city or county to continue developing our bicycle infrastructure.
The 1 billion kroner is aimed at increasing the number of cyclists and making cycling more attractive as a transport form. Apart from spending money on building and developing safe infrastructure, there is in 2009 100 million kroner for use in the following prioritized categories:
- Cycling projects on a county level that contribute greatly to increasing the local bicycle traffic, including commuting.
- Projects in companies and organisations that are aimed at strengthening cycling.
- Projects that contain concrete initiatives for improving traffic safety for cyclists. This includes, for example, safe school routes so fewer are injured and ensuring that children and youths are encouraged to continue cycling.
- Projects that contain concrete ideas for campaigns and the like that create public awareness regarding cycling projects.
Copenhagenize.com thinks that it's about time that cycling is mentioned on a national level, as has been the case in Holland since the early 1990's. It remains to be seen if the money will help increase cycling. In fact, 9 out of 10 traffic experts in Denmark have given the new traffic plan a firm spanking.
Considering the fact that the government is trying to play catch up regarding the UN Climate Conference, the whole package seems a little too political and not visionary enough. Lots of icing but the cake is dry and mouldy.
Let's keep the optimism, however. It's a good plan for cycling simply because cycling is in it and, with that, cycling has been elevated to being an equal partner in the traffic. A respectable, feasible and attractive form of transport. Which it already is in Copenhagen, but large swathes of the nation are behind the times in this regard.
Regarding the money for projects in 2009, it would be brilliant if we could outsource the concept development for these projects to, for example, the Dutch Fietsersbond / Cycling Union. Alternatively, they could set up a branch in Denmark so we can use the money on projects that promote cycling as positive instead of more of the fearmongering we've witnessed in Denmark in 2008.
Via: Politiken and other Danish media.