This month marked the passing of a new milestone in Copenhagen: the number of bicycles on the road now outnumbers the number of cars. Over the past 20 years, cycling traffic has steadily risen in the Danish capital. In the past year alone, 35,080 more bikes have hit the streets, with 265,700 bikes on the road versus 252,600 cars. Klaus Bondam, the head of the Danish Cycling Federation, told the Guardian that “What really helped was a very strong political leadership; that was mainly Ritt Bjerregaard [the former lord mayor], who had a dedicated and authentic interest in cycling.”
Although a new metro line is set to open up in 2019, cycling traffic will likely remain high. In that same Guardian piece, Morten Kabell, the current mayor of technical and environmental affairs, said that “As long as it’s fossil-free and alleviates congestion and air pollution, I’m cool with that.”
The city’s population is also being put to work in finding possible ways to better the system. Citizens of Copenhagen were given the opportunity to report how the cycling avenues could be bettered. For example, major cycling routes such as Nørrebrogade (one of the most popular cycling paths) were marked as too narrow. With this data, the city hopes to better appeal to every eco-friendly means of transport.
America should study this development to the East. Of all our cities, only Minneapolis is ranked as one of the most bike friendly cities in the world, and even then it barely hangs on at number 18 of 20. For anyone who has tried to cycle around New York, L.A., San Francisco or just about any other metropolitan area stateside, the only thing that’s reliable is the risk it poses to your life.
America, perhaps it’s time once again to look to your friends to the East. More bikes means less climate change, less smog, less crushing modern-day isolation and, of course, more toned calves.