How architecture is offering a boost to cycling in Copenhagen


Much of Copenhagen's infrastructure has been specially designed for cyclists. Photo: AFP

The Danish capital has been promoting cycling for a long time, so much so that now almost all urban projects prioritise cycling over cars.

Through infrastructures that are both innovative and often aesthetic, it's proving a subtle and effective way to gradually edge out car drivers from the city centre.

More than ever, the creative ideas of architects are helping establish Copenhagen as a genuine role model of a city that is perfectly adapted for cycling. Buildings, bridges and roads are now designed primarily for cyclists – their well-being and their safety.

Such urban transformations make cycling easier in the long run, to the point that one now counts many more bicycles in the city than cars.

A succession of car-free bridges, designed exclusively for pedestrians and cyclists, have been built in recent years, such as the spectacular Bicycle Snake Bridge, a gigantic orange bicycle path that connects the Islands Brygge district to Vesterbro.

Another original creation is the Cirkelbroen Bridge, an imposing structure composed of five circular platforms and masts of different heights.

But the most popular of all remains the Dronning Louise's Bro (Queen Louise's Bridge), which attracts more than 40,000 cyclists every day. In some cases, even the city's office tower complexes integrate a bicycle and pedestrian path in their architectural design in order to link surrounding streets.

Creative approaches also show up in parking lots, such as those located on the Karen Blixen's square, composed of several spots under a form of small bicycle rolling hills where the vehicles are protected from bad weather. The complex can already accommodate up to 2,000 bicycles.

Over the past decade, Copenhagen has invested a total of €200mil (RM940mil) in cycling infrastructure. As a result, the Danish capital is regularly described as the most bike-friendly city in the world.

Today, bicycles account for 42% of all work and education-related trips in Copenhagen, while 25% of Copenhagen's schoolchildren cycle to school.

Bicycles now outnumber cars in central Copenhagen, and the city has more than 386km of bicycle lanes. In fact, almost all of Copenhagen's main roads have bike lanes separated by curbs on both sides of the street.

It is no coincidence that in 2022 the Tour de France started from Copenhagen.

And this isn't the end of the story, as the municipality recently launched a plan to increase bike lanes to 750km and boost the number of bicycle parking facilities in all areas of the city – especially near train stations, metro stations and major bus stops – by 2045.

In Denmark, nine out of 10 inhabitants own a bicycle. In the capital, a quarter of families with two children own a cargo bike. – AFP Relaxnews

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