Sunday, August 9, 2009


The City of Copenhagen has been quite thorough in its effort to accommodate bicycles across the city. Just a small bit of asphalt can go a long way.
This photo is from Israel Plads, the square just beside the Danish Cycling Federation.
While the picture shows us just a small slathering of concrete that looks hastily poured and less than perfect, the asphalt aids bicycles as they transition from the square to the roadway.

This transition is found just before the bridge across the lakes on Nørrebrogade, the street featured in the video below. This transition is smoothed over to provide access in both directions across the intersection and onto the sidewalk.

The asphalt is a small price to pay for increasing the efficiency of cyclists throughout the city.

The number one reason people bicycle in Copenhagen--more than 50% responded this way in the most recent bicycle account--is because bicycling through the city is easy and efficient.

The asphalt transitions demonstrate that being bicycle friendly often does not require tons of money or sophisticated engineering. Just a little bit of asphalt, carefully placed, and thoughtfully installed.


  1. Anthony, the reason people bike in Copenhagen is because it's easy and efficient. Hills around Tennessee sure don't make it easy. Facilities make for efficiency. What's more important - easy or efficient?

  2. Hi Team--

    There are a lot of factors to consider in response to your question.

    First, I'll assume we're talking about increasing ridership in urban environments with the goal of raising the mode share of bicycle traffic. Rural environments and long distance cycling is a whole other bag of spokes.

    In the urban environment, a rider's sense of safety is the most decisive factor in their decision to ride. Facilities like raised, wide bicycle lanes provide an increased sense of safety. Seen this way, ease and efficiency cannot be separated out as two different factors.

    It is easy to ride in a raised bicycle track because you feel safe, and it is efficient because the route has been prepared especially for quick bicycle travel.

    To your point about geography: if a place is flat you cannot assume people will ride bikes in higher numbers. The inverse of this is also true: hills/geography does not necessarily limit bicycle use.

    Weather is another oft cited limitation for creating bicycle cities, but if you look to places like Minneapolis and Portland, Chicago and New York City, you see extreme temperatures and unpredictable precipitation in places where the number of bicyclists is increasing by the day.

    My point is this: ease and efficiency are more related to proper bicycle facilities than geographic features such as weather and topography.

    While climbing hills on a bicycle may not be the typical person's idea of a good time, if a bicycle facility exists, an individual is much more likely to try climbing the hill. Without a bike lane, it is highly unlikely they will ever try.