First Bicycle Superhighway Opens in Copenhagen
New York Times reports of the new 11-mile bicycle superhighway that opened in Copenhagen,Denmark earlier this year. The cycle superhighway is the first of 26 other routes that will be built for people traveling to and from Copenhagen. The city planners hope that the cycle superhighway will encourage commuters to ride a bike instead of a bus or a car.
The new cycle superhighway is located between Copenhagen and a western suburb named Albertslund. Its pavement is specifically designed for smooth cycling and the path is for the most part free from intersections and roads. Cyclists enjoy the countryside as they pedal to work every day as well as the convenience of air pumps every mile.
Copenhagen is already known for its bicycle paths but city planners wanted people to see the cycle paths as a serious alternative to other forms of commuting. The new paths also dealt with usual problems like inadequate pavement, poor lighting, and risky intersections and gaps along the route.
It is interesting to note that though biking to work is seen as the fastest and most convenient mode of transportation in the city, many say that happiness is one of the major benefits that keep them cycling. A sense of achievement and well-being is a powerful incentive as any to choose bicycle commuting over common modes of transportations.
City planners encourage this positive outlook by rewarding cyclists who keep the five rules of cycling in mind (being nice, using signals, staying to the right, overtaking carefully, and appreciating rather than grudging bike bells). Boxes of chocolates are given out by city employees to cyclists who remember and keep the rules.
Several other cities have made efforts to promote bicycle commuting in their localities. London launched its own version of cycle superhighways in 2010 with routes marked out though still integrated with main roads. Cycle paths were painted bright blue and measured 1.5 meters wide. Sweden has plans to construct a four-lane bicycle highway that will run 10.5 miles between Lund and Malmö. This latest project boosts the already high level of bicycle commuting in the city of Malmö, where 30% of total transport is accounted for by biking.
According to Copenhagenize.com, bicycle-friendly cities share several characteristics that encourage people to choose bicycle commuting over other forms of transportation. First, there are established cycling infrastructures which make it possible for cyclists to consider biking a serious alternative to cars. Second, the city’s culture is bicycle friendly, meaning mindsets are favorable toward biking – and bikers. Third, there is a will to change cities into better, more livable places where biking is perceived as a positive characteristic of the urbanscape. The site gives a list of the world’s most bike-friendly cities based on how many trips were made on bicycles. Copenhagen led the list followed by Gronningen in the Netherlands, Greifswald in Germany, and Lund, Sweden.
A positive promotion of bike culture is key to transforming people’s mindsets toward biking and in extension lessening dependence on cars for traveling. When people are able to choose bicycle commuting as a better and more fun option than cars, it is a positive step toward a more environmentally-friendly and sustainable path in living.
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