Mayor Jim Watson, and to a lesser degree, the NCC, may have realized some progress in promoting cycling and developing the necessary infrastructure in recent years. But the situation in Copenhagen teaches us how far we have to go before the Ottawa area can be considered a real cycling haven.
The Guardian newspaper is reporting that Copenhagen is installing electronic information panels along its bike lanes to help prevent cycling traffic jams. “We’re hoping with these new information boards to give cyclists the opportunity to choose the least congested route through the city,” said the head of Copenhagen’s technology and environment department.
The Guardian reports that last year, the number of bikes entering Copenhagen’s city centre outnumbered cars for the first time. Sensors recorded 265,700 bicycles entering the city daily verses 252,600 cars. This is a major improvement over the situation in 1970 when there were approximately 3.5 times more cars entering the city daily than bicycles.
The Guardian article says that residents in Copenhagen cycled 1,400,000 km a day last year, with 41% of people (including 63% of MPs) cycling to and from work or school.
It’s important to remember that in the 1960s and 70s, Copenhagen was well on it was to becoming another car-centric city. Back then, Amsterdam was held out as the premier cycling city of Europe. However, with the right public policy decisions and investments, Copenhagen transformed itself into a true cycling haven in recent decades.
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