News World Bikes overtake cars on streets of Copenhagen

Bikes overtake cars on streets of Copenhagen

Bikes overtake cars on Copenhagen streets
The Danish Government has invested almost $A2 billion into its cycling city project as well as removing parking spaces. Photo: Getty
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The capital city of Denmark officially has more bikes than cars on its streets thanks to its efforts to encourage more people to cycle.

The new record was hit last month with an additional 35,080 bikes recorded this year, bringing the daily total number to 265,700 in the city compared to 252,600 cars, according to The Guardian.

The manual traffic counts have been a feature of the city since 1970 — when there were a lot more cars than bicycles on the streets — and have recorded, for the first time, a greater number of bikes than cars being used in most areas of the city.

“It shows that the investments we have made work,” Copenhagen mayor for technology and the environment Morten Kabell told Danish newspaper Politiken.

“But it is clear that it is a challenge for the capacity of the cycle tracks. They must be able to cope with the volume of traffic.”

The city is regarded by many as a model of integrated transport and was last year voted the best city for cyclists and the world’s most liveable city, according to its website.

The Government has invested over 1 billion kroner (almost $2 billion) into its cycling city project as well as removing parking spaces and introducing initiatives such as car-free days.

But the mayor said there was still an “imbalance in priorities”, where there was too much focus on automobile traffic in areas where bikes outnumbered cars.

His solution would be to start taking space from car lanes and give it to cyclists for more expansive bike paths.

Can Australia follow in Copenhagen’s footsteps?

As well as being a great way to increase fitness, cycling relieves stress and can, as more people choose to cycle than drive, lower pollution levels.

But the University of Sydney business school’s professor of transport management Stephen Greaves said the clear priority in Australia was for vehicles over bikes.

“I think the idea of bikes outnumbering cars on Australian roads is about as likely as snow in the Sahara desert.”

“In Sydney we’re just about to build Australia’s most expensive road tunnel at a time when we are talking about cleaner transport options.”

Australian cycling infrastructure compared with Copenhagen
Cycleways have been a controversial issue in Sydney. Photo: Getty.

In 2014, an urban mobility consultant from Copenhagen said Australian cities were years behind others around the world in providing infrastructure for bikes.

Some have argued that cities such as Copenhagen and Amsterdam were more suited to cycling because of their narrow streets and dense living.

Yet a boom in cycling infrastructure in larger cities such as Paris and New York has gone some way to disprove this argument.

“Cycling in Australia has flatlined in the past two years and some of this is a result of anti-cycling policies like fines for not wearing helmets and the NSW Government’s proposal to bring in mandatory ID’s for bicycle riders,” Dr Greaves said.

“The thing is, bikes probably do outnumber cars in Australia. It’s just that people don’t use them. I myself have three bikes at home but we don’t really use them.”


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