Updated 26.10.2023

14 January 2013

Bicycle Systems

We appreciate every kilometre of cycle track the City of Copenhagen builds. We even like their construction signs indicating that the next 120 commutes are going to include not-so-convenient detours until that cycle track is put into place.

So please, don't take it as ungrateful when we say, "you're doing it wrong." These days, phrases like bicycle planning, active transportation master plans, the bicycle network, and complete streets could fill one of those word clouds more quickly than a Dane washing down a sliver of herring with a shot of snaps. Fortunately, bicycle strategies abound in progressive urban planning. Unfortunately, few actually address the planning of bicycle infrastructure as a system, in the same way they would a new metro or bus system.

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We've blogged about the new Copenhagen Metro City Ring before. No opinion on it today. I simply want to point out (the obvious) that the metro is being implemented as a system. When it's finished in 2018, there will be no missing stations, no stations that lack stairs, an elevator or an escalator to depart the station, no stop will be unnamed.

The same is true of bus systems, highways, airports. The signage, the connections, the efficiency of their infrastructure is vital to the success of those systems.

When it comes to bicycles, even the most elementary definition of infrastructure, "the basic physical and organizational structures and facilities needed for the operation of a system" has been disregarded.

The missed opportunities for increasing the number of citizen cyclists because considerations of signage, facilities, and efficiency have been ignored, are unreal. We'll take a closer look at the numbers in another post but for now just wanted to leave you with this food for thought: bicycle infrastructure is like any other transportation system, design it like you mean it.