Search This Blog

Monday, October 1, 2012

Copenhagen shows bicycles can improve cities and their citizens [Winnipeg Free Press]


Submitted photo
Rush hour in Copenhagen. Nearly 40 per cent of the city's population ride their bikes to work every day.
Submitted photo Rush hour in Copenhagen. Nearly 40 per cent of the city's population ride their bikes to work every day.
2Home to inspiring modern architecture, set within a dense and vibrant urban context, the most significant impression any visitor has of the Scandinavian capital is an overwhelming presence of bicycles.
In Copenhagen, 37 per cent of the population ride their bikes to work every day. With a vast, integrated system of separated lanes and dedicated lights, rush-hour traffic can often be heavier for cyclists than motorists. The system is so safe only 15 per cent of Danes choose to wear a helmet.
During a recent architectural pilgrimage to the Nordic city, I was lucky enough to visit prominent Danish architect and urban planner Jan Gehl. Having written several influential books on the design of livable cities, he has been instrumental in establishing Copenhagen's bike culture. In our discussion, Gehl lamented the lack of cycling infrastructure in most Canadian cities and cited the significant social and economic benefits it can have. He referred to a study commissioned by the mayor of Copenhagen indicating that when taking all factors into account, every kilometre ridden on a bike saves Danish society 25 cents and every kilometre travelled by car costs them 16 cents.
In Winnipeg, the first steps toward implementation of an active transportation network have largely been focused on encouraging healthy lifestyle choices, but expanding on Gehl's business case for an urban cycling infrastructure might be a valuable strategy to galvanize government and public support for its continued development.
The most easily quantifiable economic impact of active transportation is realized through individual savings. Car ownership is the second-greatest expense in a typical Canadian household, costing on average $7,500 annually, per vehicle. When alternate transportation options are provided, costs such as fuel, parking and maintenance can be greatly reduced. If a household is able to eliminate one car, these savings can be substantial.

0 comments:

Post a Comment