Learning from the greatest cycling city on earth...
Let us first lament the life of a London cyclist. Sometimes it feels like a never-ending battle against a swarm of cars, buses, vans, lorries, other people on 2 wheels and arguably the worst of them all, the zombie-esque walker!
Copenhagen, Denmark, won the accolade of the most bicycle-friendly city in the world on Copenhagenize.eu’s 2015 list of the world's 20 most bicycle-friendly cities. I know it sounds like they'd be biased but it was the first time since the list was started in 2011 and they have a very comprehensive methodology.
Amsterdam, Utrecht, Strasbourg, Eindhoven, Malmo, Nantes, Bordeaux, Antwerp and Seville made up the rest of the top 10. No real surprises there I suppose as these are famously bike friendly cities. London has never been in the top 20 and has some way to go if Sadiq Khan, chair of Transport For London board, wants to continue and better Boris's biking legacy.
Whilst there is no doubt it has got better, commuting in and out of London on a bicycle is not always a pleasant pedaling experience. London's infrastructure still has a long way to go to. And that's countries like the Danes take the pastry (*biscuit... sorry).
So we went to Copenhagen to see what the fuss was all about:
1) Cycle lanes
Sure, London's got them and when they work, they’re great, but at points along your journey they seem to just…disappear. In Copenhagen the lanes are consistent across the city, utterly distinct in colour and marking. Separate from the motor traffic. In many Scandinavian cities, the council construct cycle lanes that are physically separated, often raised from, the main roads.
2) Separate traffic lights
No Grease style racing stand-offs for the Danes. Some of Copenhagen's traffic lights, at particularly busy or dangerous intersections, are for cyclists only. They are timed to give cyclists their own, safe time to move off. It prevents so much animosity you wouldn't believe it.
Your sighs are palpable at the very thought. Encouraging people to get on their bikes is as much about what to do when you "get there" as it is "getting there". There is bike parking everywhere in Copenhagen. Blooming everywhere. A great parking idea (which we are seeing in a few London spots like West Norwood) is a rack that is the size and shape of a car - showing just how many bikes can fit into one car space!
So in a nutshell, they do the simple things really well. In Copenhagen, cycling is quite simply the best way to get from A to B. Hey, let's not forget that London is going in the right direction, with more investment being piled in to a more bicycle-friendly London. A good thing too, as a greater amount of people than ever are choosing 2 wheels. The latest TFL report shows us that more than 3 in every 100 tube and bus users are now making a bicycle trip each week as well. And Boris bikes are being used/hired around 900,000 times a month.
For most of the top 20 bicycle-friendly cities, cycling is a way of life. People are not dressed like they are about to start The Tour. Because it's part of their everyday life, they dress in their everyday clothes. Their infrastructure to better suit the everyday cyclist.
We know there is a fairly long way to go, but with the next Copenhagenize.eu list coming out in 2017, at Dry Patch, we think it’s time London took note and pedaled its way toward the top 20.
What do you think London could do to move towards being a top 20 bicycle-friendly city?
Saskia, from The Dry Patch Team