Overcrowding on Copenhagen’s Cycle Lanes
Copenhagen’s cycling infrastructure has proved to be too successful with cyclists. The city’s provision of safe and convenient cycling routes has resulted in too many people cycling than the city is currently able to accommodate. Copenhagen now has the problem of congestion, despite their cycle paths being significantly wider than those typically used in the UK.
The congestion problems have created new dangers for cyclists, with reports of aggressive cycling through crowded areas and cyclists being forced into heavy traffic due to lack of space.
Additionally, the storage of bikes has become problematic, with significantly more bikes being parked than there is designated space for. Accessing bicycles once they have been parked and buried under others is challenging.
Despite these recent problems, Copenhagen remains a great place to cycle, and is well ahead of the UK in catering for cyclists. Their networks of segregated cycle lanes, for example, create a safe environment for cyclists, and they have introduced significantly more safety measures than London. The ‘Green Wave’ is a successful example of this; a traffic signal feature that allows cyclists a time window through which to move through red lights to avoid contact with traffic.
Also, a recent bridge for cyclists has been built in the city which prevents inconveniences to pedestrians whilst keeping cyclists segregated from the traffic. Built across the harbour, the bridge is named the Cykelslangen, or the Cycle Snake, and winds across the river connecting two bike routes.
Copenhagen has far fewer cycling fatalities than in London – and studies have shown that the more cyclists there are on the roads the safer it is for cyclists overall. The city with the highest levels of commuting cyclists in the UK is Cambridge at 29%, compared to over 50% in Copenhagen. The UK still has far to go, with attitudes towards cycling presenting one obstacle to having truly cycle-friendly cities. Transport for London’s current plan for a large cycle Superhighway in central London is under threat for example, and facing objections from businesses in the city. The cycle superhighway would feature segregated cycle paths similar to those that have been so successful in Copenhagen.