As observed recently, Kobenhavn (Copenhagen) is one of a growing number of world cities where urban designers have embraced enthusiastically the bicycle as a seriously sustainable alternative to the car for short and medium distance movement. I was confronted with this reality recently on arrival in the central area of Copenhagen where the taxi driver warned that before opening the taxi door on the ‘kerb side’ I must look for cyclists and if clear immediately cross the bicycle lane (cyclist domain) without hesitation and wait on the footpath (pedestrian domain). Just like that, I was immersed in an intriguing urban landscape which is quite different from what is experienced in Melbourne.

In particular I noted:

  • the absence of lycra and the predominance of normal everyday wear worn by the cyclists;
  • the absence of the bicycle helmet (except on some child passengers);
  • the lack of major government-run bicycle hire infrastructure like Melbourne Bike Share, and the existence of a low-key very localized cheap hire option called Bycyklen (presumably targeted at the tourist market);
  • that on the major movement corridors throughout Copenhagen, there are structured bicycle lanes (using pavement height differentiation and marking) with separate traffic signaling geared to the cyclist;
  • the pervasiveness of bicycle parking areas (with signs of irritation from some);
  • a greater frequency of specially modified bicycles for carrying small cargo or children (often all weather);
  • specific easy access carriages on most trains for bicycles, prams / pushers and wheel chairs;
  • evidence of respect for behavioral rules associated with the particular movement domain, for instance cyclists walking with their bicycles in a pedestrian only area.

Enquries Jennifer Collie at Collie (jlc@colliepl.com.au).