- Bicycle Culture by Design: Now and Then You Get Surprised

Erik Griswold, one of our team members here at Copenhagenize, found some retro photos of Copenhagen. More specifically, Frederiksberg. Even more specifically, my front door. I promptly went out and took photos from the same angle. The couple of steps at the bottom right of the 1960s photo, below, are the main door to my building. Interesting to learn that back then I would have had the penthouse flat, because since then someone added some floors. What I find most interesting is the comparison of the two photos. While it is certainly true that road space and parking for cars were removed in Copenhagen to reestablish the bicycle infrastructure back in the early 1980s, it’s plain to see that space - on certain streets - was reclaimed from other sources, as well. Look at the paving stones outside my door in the modern photo, at right. There’s some asphalt and then two rows of paving stones. In the vintage photo, the sidewalk is four paving stones wide, narrowing a bit in the distance because of car parking. Nevertheless, the sidewalks were much wider. As a daily user of this sidewalk, I’d like that width back, please. You can see that the space for the cycle track was taken from a combination of the sidewalk space and the car parking.

Shrinking sidewalks are hardly an unusual phenomenon. They shrunk all over the world with the advent of car culture. Space was needed and sidewalks were traditionally, in many cities, very wide. In my city, there are places where they are now obscenely narrow, as we wrote about recently.

Although it’s harder to see, it does however look like the sidewalk on the left side of the street is about the same. Doesn’t mean it wasn’t expropriated for car space - just means it was probably done earlier. It would be brilliant if those trams were still rolling up and down the street, though. But despite the fact that cities all over Europe are establishing or reestablishing tramway networks, no politician in Copenhagen is in that modern loop.

Here’s the opposite corner. Nothing startling to report here. Except that cycle tracks now occupy the space taken up by those piles of snow. And they are kept clear of snow, of course.

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