Copenhagen's Cycle Super Highways Success Followed Defeat of Congestion Charge
A total of 28 routes with 467 km of cycle super highways are planned in the Copenhagen region. Eleven of these will be ready by the end of 2018. It’s a remarkable story of regional cooperation, forged by one big city and 21 of its smaller suburban neighbors, who came together around a common vision for moving commuters from using their cars to riding their bicycles.
Ironically, this regional success started with a failure. Back in 2007, city leaders in Copenhagen began looking for a way to reduce automobile congestion in the city center. They aimed to do what London and Stockholm did around the same time: create a “congestion charge” on cars entering the city.
Protests kicked up from the municipalities around Copenhagen. Their citizens would be particularly burdened by the extra cost to go to work or do other errands in the city. The project was dumped. With no congestion toll in sight, Copenhagen decided to tackle the problem from a completely different angle. Instead of deterring driving, why not encourage biking?
In some ways, the bike plan benefitted from the failed attempt at the congestion charge. For one thing, it was more of a “carrot” than a “stick” so the suburban communities were more open to it. One result of all this participation is that the cycling network includes a number of suburb-to-suburb routes. It’s not all hub-and-spoke routes radiating out from Copenhagen.
If inclusiveness was one goal, another was to dream big. Streuli didn’t want the original vision to be hampered by worries about cost. This freed the planners to develop innovative ideas like timing stop lights at road crossings to favor bikes rather than cars. Another idea was to include “conversation lanes” wide enough for two people to ride side-by-side and talk.
To encourage municipal participation, a cost-sharing structure was set up. Municipalities only pay half of the construction costs. Most of the other half is covered by a subsidy from a national fund for supporting bicycling.
A six-person secretariat was also set up as a neutral body to administer the project. Policy is set by a steering committee made up of executive-level civil servants from all participating municipalities. A project group consisting of traffic planners and other more technical people meets four times a year.
I call upon the Government of BC to enable everyone in BC to cycle & walk in safety as part of their daily lives by implementing an Active Transportation Strategy that includes:
- Investing $1 billion over the next ten years to:
- Upgrade cycling & walking facilities on provincial roads & bridges
- Complete cycling & walking networks in communities across BC
- Provide safe routes to school for children
- Build trails & routes for cycling & walking tourism
- Ensuring that paths & protected bike lanes can be safely shared by people using wheelchairs, skateboards & in-line skates
- Enhancing cycling education for children & adults
- Promoting cycling & walking
- Encouraging electric bike use by eliminating the PST & providing rebates