Copenhageners fear other cyclists and complain city is ‘not doing enough’ for bikes

Here’s an article from the Danish media I thought others might enjoy. I did a quick google translate of the original Danish so it’s a bit choppy. Sorry I don’t have the time to do a better translation myself.

It just shows how incredibly far advanced the Danes in cycling but also how you have to keep pressing for change even as some of the most incredible changes are already happening here. But it’s a bit of a silly article because the municipality knows this issue (the research is just confirming a known issue) and they are actually doing a lot from what I can see, certainly compared to most cities. Advocating better conditions for cyclists in Copenhagen seems a bit excessive to me. Ah Denmark, you don’t know how good you’ve got it!

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Cyclists fear cyclists
20th June 2011
They fear neither right turn accidents, doors opening or cars crossing the bike path. What the cyclists in Copenhagen and Frederiksberg fear most is other cyclists.
It shows the preliminary results of a survey in Copenhagen and Frederiksberg, says senior scientist at the University of Copenhagen, Hans Skov-Petersen:
– One would immediately think it was right-turning trucks or cars that run across the bicycle path that was the problem, but it turns out that most cyclists are worried about is other cyclists.
Mix concrete
When the cyclists fear cyclists, partly due to lack of space on the bike path, says Hans Skov-Petersen, and therefore local authorities look at the concrete that is reserved for cyclists:
– The problem is that there is not enough room for the many different riders. There must be room for both those who want to ride fast, those who want to ride gently with their children, and those who will ride with cargo bikes. There must be room for everyone and it could well indicate that the cycle path network is not adapted, there are many different riders simultaneously, says Hans Skov-Petersen.
Fine words are not enough
The Cyclists’ Union would also like to have municipalities mix concrete.
The league is pleased of Copenhagen’s high ambitions to become the world’s best, but it is no longer enough with fine words and lofty ambitions.
– We demand more action behind the words, because if they just need to reach near their ambitions, there must be something NOW in relation to multiple and broad cyclists, says head of media Cyclists Federation Fritz Bredal.
Bike lanes are on the way
The municipality of Copenhagen there is action behind the words. Better and wider bike lanes are already under way, assures program manager for Copenhagen bike area, Andreas Røhl.
– There is something concrete and we also have a strategy where this is clearly a focus area. The goal is to create a framework where it is possible for parents and children and colleagues to hold a conversation while they are busy, can get past, says Andreas Røhl. Copenhagen is just now starting to extend cycle paths on Nørrebrogade and build a bicycle bridge over the harbor.
Bikeability.dk
Approximately 4,500 of Copenhagen and Frederiksberg citizens have participated in the survey, which is part of the research Bikeability.
Behind Bikeability Among other things Aalborg University, Southern University and University of Copenhagen. The project aims to identify what motivates riders and ultimately create better conditions in the city for cyclists.

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4 responses to “Copenhageners fear other cyclists and complain city is ‘not doing enough’ for bikes

  1. Fear is fear, and not silly at all. Subjective Safety is very important. You can’t tell someone who is scared generally – or especially at the moment – that e.g. Copenhagen is a cycling paradise.

    Cyclist vs. cyclist danger – real or imagined – is very unlikely understudied. In NYC everyone complains about “bike salmon” – cyclists who ride against the traffic flow (of cyclists) illegally, but hardly anyone will take on the issue of the one-way streets which make this inevitable. Here in Berlin I think a lot of people now believe that riding against the flow on even narrow bike paths is legal. While many going the wrong way do divert out of the lane when a cyclist going the right way approaches – and then they risk hitting pedestrians (to be clear, many of paths here have no grade separation from ped. paths), I would say about 30% just treat the path as a two-ways and then pass you by a few centimeters — two cyclists each going 15km/h make a 30km/h crash.

    The police do little, the politicians do little, people are selfish and anti-social and also smug and I am going to start carrying a bat whilst walking around in this over-rated sh-thole.

    • Fear is fear. But it’s an issue of scale. In general, problems across Scandinavia are at a minute scale compared with other countries, yet they seem to have about the same level of fear and complain as much as people in other countries. I think it’s just what you are used to. People’s scale of what is acceptable is quite different in different contexts and countries. However, it’s an objective truth (not subjective perception) that biking in New York is vastly more likely to result in a serious or fatal injury than even the most dangerous street in Copenhagen.

      It’s important to mention that the same bicycle street in Copenhagen which they brand as “the best bike street in Europe” (Nørrebrogade) is avoided by many cyclists because they find it too crowded. That’s also why they have widened the lanes on that street to up to 4 meters on each side and blocked the street to all motorized vehicles but busses (because Copenhagen is so ‘lazy’ regarding the rights of cyclists). And the same overflowing parking structures foreigner planners love are hated by DSB and locals alike for being messy and a complication. So these are indeed problems, no doubt. But they are what I would call “luxury problems” (the type of problem scandinavia is overflowing with) and not massive, deep and systemic problems like a big city in New York has, let alone a place like India or elsewhere. Question is, is it better to polish the rough sides of a pearl or try to start making the statue of David out of a big chunk of uncut granite?

  2. I’ve just spent a week cycling, almost constantly, all over Copenhagen. Actually, I was hit by a dim-wit on a fixie, with handlebars narrower than his hips. His hip hit my handlebar as he passed, and I fell onto him, but managed not to fall off. That aside, cyclists have 37% of the mode share, but less than 37% of the road. It’s time they removed cars completely from a third of their streets and gave those to cyclists. But they’ve just announced 1700 more car parking spaces in the city.
    You know, while ever 63% of trips are not by bike, we should not be flattering them with tags like cycling city. All they have figured out is a way to increase neighbourhood cycling, but not cycling’s range, to help people out in the suburbs commute to the city.

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