Every morning, close to half of the population of Copenhagen, Denmark will cycle to work and school. Cycling is a way of life for this city, and it is known as the most bike-friendly city on earth. It didn’t get that reputation by accident, and while Philly is quickly moving up the same list, if it wants to get on the same level as Copenhagen, Philly will have to follow Copenhagen’s example. Not everything that works in the Danish city will work for the American city, but some of the same principles can apply.
A Culture of Biking
One of the biggest ways that Copenhagen makes its streets accessible and safe for bikes is because of the visibility of cycling within the city. Everyone in Copenhagen knows that cycling is a big part of daily life, so motorists know to watch out for cyclists, to give way and to make sure they are driving carefully. People understand the repercussions of breaking the traffic laws and know how to treat each other well on the roads thanks to plenty of signage, educational initiatives and public awareness.
Less Car Friendly
The initiatives in place to make Copenhagen into the city is today didn’t come about accidentally. They were established over time and designed to make the city less car friendly. This means that the way energy was consumed had to happen, so fuel prices skyrocketed and the plan for energy conservation was started. This helped to drive down car ownership while boosting bike ownership. It is not uncommon for state governors in the US to set gas prices, and a move like that from the mayor could happen and may be necessary if Philly is serious about being bike friendly.
Show the Cost Benefits
One of the big reasons that cycling took off in Copenhagen and stayed popular there is because the residents understood the cost benefits involved. The government and local activists made sure the people were well aware of how cost effective it would be to ride a bike instead of own a car. The limited repairs, lower ownership costs, no need for fuel, and lower repair costs mean that cycling is saving people thousands of dollars a year and thus saving the residents more money for local spending of goods and services. Copenhagen is flourishing and its residents have more money in their pockets than they did in the days when cars were found everywhere.
These are just a few ways that Copenhagen has managed to stand out in the world cycling community and how its innovations may be able to be carried over to other places like Philadelphia. There is still a lot of work to be done in Philly as the residents there adjust to more and more bikes on the street.
It would be wise of the city to look toward its Danish counterpart to see how some new ideas could be implemented or how current initiatives could be improved.