Why is cycling so popular in Copenhagen? It's not just because of protected bicycle lanes because they aren't everywhere.

Go Dutch? How about Go Danish?

A PhD study from Lund University in Sweden has compared the role of urban cycling and transport planning in Copenhagen, Denmark, and Stockholm, Sweden, and the results could serve as a guide for other cities struggling with raising the number of people who cycle.

One conclusion from Till Koglin’s thesis is that key economic and historical factors affect the outcome of planning. "This is something that creates vitally different everyday experiences of cycling in cities," said Koglin.

He believes there are cultural reasons why Copenhagen evolved into a “better” cycling city than Stockholm, including a weaker Danish economy after World War II, leaving less resources for car infrastructure. Sweden has Volvo, Denmark has no indigenous car manufacturer. "Denmark’s lack of an automotive industry means there’s therefore relatively strong support for cycling amongst the general population," said Koglin.

He adds that the more recent divergent development of urban planning in both cities is largely due to Copenhagen’s conscious cycling strategies, allowing Denmark to build on the historical evolution that sometimes favoured cycling. Copenhagen’s cycling culture is celebrated on copenhagenize.com by Mikael Colville-Anderson, a Danish-Canadian film-maker.

In a video produced by Lund University, Koglin analyses why Copenhagen is so bicycle-friendly. The cycling modal share is very high at 35 percent – and with plans to raise this to 50 percent – yet the city is not veined with as many fully protected bicycles lanes as Amsterdam. Koglin says the key to making sure cyclists are safe from motor vehicles is to make sure the motor vehicles travel slowly.

Koglin’s study shows how, even in Copenhagen, cycling as a mode of transport is marginalised in urban space.

“Even in cities which are very good for cycling, like Copenhagen, the motorised modes of transport create many problems and are still dominating urban space."


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