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Buildings and Cities

Bike Infrastructure

Copenhagen is considered the most livable city in the world, in no small part because it is the most bike-friendly. Thirty percent of Copenhageners ride to work, school, and market on 18 miles of bike lanes, and along three bicycle superhighways connecting Copenhagen to its outlying suburbs. Twenty-three more such highways are currently in the works. Like virtually all European cities, Copenhagen was bicycle- friendly for much of the twentieth century. After the Second World War and into the 1960s the city became polluted and congested with car traffic. Citizens pushed back and reclaimed the city for biking. Today, the city is a testament to what bicycle infrastructure can do.

Bicycles are on the rise as cities attempt to untangle traffic and unclog skies, urban dwellers seek affordable transportation, and diseases of inactivity and billowing greenhouse gases become impossible to ignore. Infrastructure is essential for supporting safe, pleasant, and abundant bicycle use, and includes:

  • Networks of well-lit, tree-lined bike lanes or paths—the more direct, level, and interconnected the better.
  • Well-designed intersections, roundabouts, and points of access, where bicycles and cars meet.
  • Access to public transport, secure bike parking, city bike-share programs, and workplace showers.

In the places where cycling thrives, programs and policies complement physical infrastructure. Educational initiatives target cyclists and motorists alike, for example, and stricter liability laws protect those on two wheels. Numbers from the world’s cycling capitals are compelling. In Denmark, 18 percent of local trips are done on two wheels, and in the Netherlands, 27 percent—with virtually zero emissions.

A virtuous cycle is clear: With more infrastructure come more riders. Perhaps counterintuitively, with more infrastructure and more riders, safety improves. And the more bicycles there are traversing a city, the more it reaps numerous returns on investment, including the health benefits of cleaner air and greater physical activity.

Technical summaries for each solution will be available May 1, 2017.

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