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Power to the Pedal - Copenhagen Has More Bikes Than Cars

Date: 22-Dec-16
Author: Brad Gray

Bicycle Parking Lot Copenhagen - Photo copyright: Brad Gray © Brad Gray

Bicycle Parking Lot Copenhagen - Photo copyright: Brad Gray

In November 2016 the number of bikes in Copenhagen overtook cars for the first time. Could this be the reason it is ranked as one of the world's most liveable cities?

Over the past 20 years bike traffic has increased by 68%, bringing the daily number of cyclists to 265,700 compared to 252,600 cars.

The growth in bike use is the result of deliberate policy. The government invested over 1 billion kroner (almost $A2 billion) into its cycling city project including building pedestrian and bike only bridges as well as removing parking spaces and instituting car-free days. The city is now looking at options for transitioning car lanes into more extensive bike lanes. 

Copenhagen Mayor for Technology and the Environment Morten Kabell believes the challenge now lies in maintaining the city’s cycle tracks, particularly in terms of coping with the daily volume of traffic. However, this in itself is a win when comparing costs of maintaining roads to that of bike tracks.

Local residents are engaged on the topic. Last month the city asked residents to identify areas where bike lanes are missing, too narrow, or heavily congested. More than 10,000 people responded in just 12 days.

What's happening in Australia?

Although it is argued cities such as Copenhagen and Amsterdam are more suited to cycling due to the narrow streets and dense living, a boom in cycling infrastructure in Paris and New York proved otherwise.

With additional infrastructure it is possible to transform Australia’s towns, suburbs and cities into bike-friendly spaces.

According to the Australian Bicycle Council, WA, NT and ACT are already leading the way. The addition of a new ramp on the Sydney Harbour Bridge is seen as a positive forward step.

Environmantal Benefits of Bikes

According to the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads bike riding uses minimal fossil fuels and is a pollution-free mode of transport that reduces the need to build, service and dispose of cars.

Cycling 10 km each way to work saves 1500 kg of greenhouse gas emissions each year. Also, as traffic delays and interruptions to traffic flow in Australia's six major cities account for around 13 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year, cycling during peak hours would contribute to further emission reductions by reducing congestion and improving traffic flow.

Positive Action

Join a local cycling or network group and participate in events like Ride to Work Day or Ride to School Day.  

Visit your local council's website. If you are new to bike riding, your local council is likely to hold regular workshops to boost your confidence.

Join us in taking simple and positive actions to reduce our impact on the environment through sustainable resource use, low carbon lifestyles and connecting people with nature.

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  1. The ABC.
  2. The Guardian.
  3. Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads.


Brad                                              Gray
Author: Brad Gray

Brad was Planet Ark's Head of Campaigns for 10 years. He trained and worked as a history and geography teacher before moving into the health education sector for 14 years. With a strong passion for human environments, Brad started with Planet Ark in 2007 as Recycling Programs Manager.