Cycling Copenhagen, Through North American Eyes

While Streetfilms was in Copenhagen for the Velo-City 2010
conference, of course we wanted to showcase its biking greatness.  But
we were also looking to take a different perspective then all the
myriad other videos out there.  Since there were an abundance of
advocates, planners, and city transportation officials attending from
the U.S. and Canada, we thought it’d be awesome to get their reactions
to the city’s built environment and compare to bicycling conditions in
their own cities.

If you’ve never seen footage of the Copenhagen people riding bikes
during rush hour – get ready – it’s quite a site, as nearly 38% of all
transportation trips in Copenhagen are done by bike.  With plenty of
safe, bicycle infrastructure (including hundreds of miles of physically
separated cycletracks) its no wonder that you see all kinds of people
on bikes everywhere.  55% of all riders are female, and you see kids as
young as 3 or 4 riding with packs of adults.

Much thanks to the nearly two dozen folks who talked to us for this
piece.  You’ll hear astute reflections from folks like Jeff Mapes
(author of "Pedaling Revolution"), Martha Roskowski (Program Manager, GO Boulder), Andy Clarke (President, League of American Bicyclists), and Tim Blumenthal (President, Bikes Belong) and Yvonne Bambrick (Executive Director, Toronto’s Cyclists Union) just to name drop a few of the megastars.

  • Marcotico

    A great introduction to how Copenhagen became the way it is today (in regards to the pedestrian realm) can be found in the opening chapter of Cities for a Small Country by Richard Rogers and Anne Powers. One of the important take-aways is that it took 50 years of progressive reduction of car parking to get the mode share that was achieved.

    In the 1950s Copenhagen was the same as other cities, on its way to become auto-centric. But he policy makers, and the people made a conscious decision that they wanted viable, livable streetspaces. This means a) anywhere can do this, but b) it doesn’t necessarily happen over night, so don’t get discouraged.

  • Erik G.

    I am sorry to have to point out that much of this kind of bicycling infrastructure here has been quashed at its initial proposal by the Lycra-Spandex Pedal-clip crowd who think all bicyclists should have the right to the entire road/lane and that any paint or curb segregates bicyclists.

    Well, not all of us do, and your attitude has condemned bicycling to the fringes of American society, which is not the case in Denmark. At any level of cycling.

  • Greg

    We are going to have to share the wealth more in the US if we’re going to use the minimal locks used in Copenhagen.

  • You obviously haven’t seen what passes for a lock on most bikes here in L.A.


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