New film highlights cycle culture in Copenhagen

Over a third of commuters in Danish capital now travel by bike

Measures to encourage cycling in Copenhagen include electronic bicycle counters

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A new short film highlights some of the cycling developments and successes in the city of Copenhagen, where 37 percent of trips to work, school and college are now made by bike.

But it wasn’t always like that – cycling started to disappear in the city in the 1960s with the rise of car culture, according to Denmark’s cycling ambassador, Mikael Colville-Andersen, who narrates the five minute film.

He says the city has spent the past 30 years working hard to re-establish the bicycle as a feasible and acceptable form of transport.

The Streetfilms clip shows various measures that have been used to encourage cycling – for example, the “green wave” system, where traffic lights on roads with lots of bikes are adjusted to allow cyclists keeping a constant 20km/h (12mph) to get into the city without having to stop at any red lights.

It was installed first in 2007 on Norrebrogade, reportedly the busiest bicycle street in the western world, with maybe 38,000 cyclists a day, and where some of the film is shot.

Copenhagen cycle culture

Large electronic bicycle counters are there partly to transmit data and partly to instill city pride by saying ‘look how many people are cycling’.

Recent innovations are described, including a system of LED lights installed in the ground to help avoid right turn conflicts between bikes and cars.

Provision is being made for secure parking for some of the 30,000 cargo bikes in use in Copenhagen.

Colville-Andersen sums up the situation at the end of the film: “All cities used to have the bicycle as a main feature on the urban landscape. We did it again here in Copenhagen. Other cities are doing it again. It’s possible for every city in the world…”

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Streetfilms have made a range of short films on different cycling topics. Another recent release from them is about Bicycle Boulevards for New York City, low-traffic, low-speed streets where cyclists mix comfortably with cars.