Bike Jams: A Copenhagen Reality

Words by Jeffrey Stern

In 2016, the capital of Denmark reported more bicycles entering the city than cars, an astonishing fact. Research conducted by the Copenhagen government suggests that nearly half of the residents of the cycling friendly city bike to work or school on a daily basis.

Since the number of cyclists in Copenhagen has grown so rapidly over the last decade, the city government has recently decided to install electronic information panels along critical bike routes. The main goal being to help alleviate ‘bike jams’ during the heaviest traffic hours during the morning and evening commutes. Although with the number of bikes covering city streets, these jams can happen at nearly any hour of the day.

Copenhagen bike lane jam. Photo by Richard Evans.

Copenhagen bike lane jam. Photo by Richard Evans.

Considered to be the world’s first electronic traffic information displays for bicycles, five screens are to be installed at critical places throughout Copenhagen’s 240-mile network of protected bike lanes, “There’s a need for improved accessibility for the growing number of cyclists who unfortunately in many places are now having to fight for space on the bike lane,” said Morten Kabell, head of the city’s technology and environment department to Danmarks Radio.

The Copenhagen government hopes that the new electronic information boards will give cyclists the information they need to choose the least congested route for their trips through the city. These e-signs will also have information on road construction projects, special events that could affect traffic and distances to points of interest. Each one costs around $633,494 to purchase and install.

Copenhagen traffic signs. Photo by Troels Heien.

Copenhagen traffic signs. Photo by Troels Heien.

Detailed in the city’s Bicycle Statement 2017, Copenhagen’s residents cycled 869,920 miles per day in 2016, with 41% of those miles coming in the form of school or work commuting trips.

For the first time ever in 2016, the city reported the number of cyclists entering the city center outnumbered cars on a daily basis by 13,100; 265,700 bicycles to only 252,600 cars. A notable reason why many consider Denmark and Copenhagen at the forefront in the movement of alternative transportation. The Bicycle Statement study was first conducted nearly half-century ago, in 1970, and recorded roughly 100,000 bikes while counting 340,000 cars that year.

“With the number of cyclists in Copenhagen now, we have a congestion problem,” traffic researcher from Aalborg University Niels Agerholm said to Danmarks Radio. “If there is an easier way through, signs like these could get people to change direction.”

Copenhagen sign placement

Copenhagen sign placement

The infamous Queen Louise bridge is arguably the most used bike-only bridge in the world, seeing roughly 40,000 cyclists cross it’s span every day and experiences frequent ‘bike jams.’

Bridge jam. Photo by Antoine Améaume

Bridge jam. Photo by Antoine Améaume

In addition to the new screens, the city is building more bike-only bridges, widening current lanes, improving intersection signaling and continuing feature rollouts for their one of a kind route-planning app, ibikecph. The app suggests not only the swiftest routes around town, but can guide users around cobblestone and more dangerous streets. New, green routes ideal for cargo bikes, younger and older riders are doubling in size to nearly 75-miles of options, further encouraging cycling amongst all age groups and abilities. The app, released in 2013 has been downloaded more than 60,000 times.

Over the past 20 years, bike traffic has increased by 68 percent in the bustling Scandinavian country, one of the largest jumps anywhere in the world. If forecasts are correct, growth is not expected to slow. The annual Bike Statement report predicts daily bike traffic across the city to increase another 25 percent by 2025.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Print



Back to Top