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Sustainable City Lesson from Europe 2: A Return to Bicycle-friendly Copenhagen

28 May 2024

The last time I was in Copenhagen was nine years ago, almost to the day.

At the time I was on a study tour with the WA Local Government Planners Association and we met with Gehl Architects who have been a key part of making Copenhagen a more liveable people city.

As we rode around Copenhagen they proudly said that cycling had almost reached 40% of transport mode share in Copenhagen but there was more work to do. Then, as we were leaving a few days later, we got an excited message from Jan Gehl to say that Copenhagen’s cycling mode share had now reached 45%.

Nice years on and Copenhagen’s cycling mode share is by some measures up to 60% (this is in contrast to Perth at less than 2%). It is a fundamental part of how most of Copenhagen moves. There are still cars but they don’t dominate the city.

Underpinning this are cycling lanes that are seamless and continuous, separated from traffic with a good level of protection and with this safety for all ages, and, of course, convenience.

Speaking of the latter, Copenhagen’s 200m long “Bicycle Snake” Bridge is a famous example of making bike routes as easy, direct, and convenient as possible.  Here’s how 20,000 bike now glide around the shopping mall that was the blockage.

Perth can do it too but we need to invest far more in a local continuous and protected bike network to make it a real choice for all.



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