Comment 107066

By jason (registered) | Posted December 15, 2014 at 00:00:52

Good perspective on the struggle in the early days in Copenhagen. Need more public protest and demands here at city hall:

Starting in the 1950s, Copenhagen experienced a decline in utility cycling due to increasing wealth and affordability of motor vehicles. While no bike paths were actually removed at the time, new road construction omitted bicycle infrastructure,[14] and many bike lanes were curtailed at intersections to increase the throughput of cars by adding turn pockets and other car related infrastructure in its place. At the same time car traffic increased dramatically on existing streets without bicycle infrastructure, decreasing the cyclists sense of safety on those streets. During the late 60s and early 70s the modal share of bicycles fell to an all time low of 10%.[15]

With the energy crisis which hit Denmark harder than most countries, and the growing environmental movement in the 1970s, cycling experienced a renaissance. The Government was forced to introduce car-free Sundays to conserve oil reserves. Many city dwellers thought it was the best day of the week,[16] and the Danish Cyclists Federation which had been on life support for years and were nearly in a coma, experienced a rapid and massive increase in membership during the 1970s and 1980s. Bolstered by the increasing membership and new enthusiastic younger grassroots, it organised massive demonstrations in Copenhagen and other major cities, demanding better infrastructure and safety for the city's cyclists.[17] Another grassroots action cited for helping cycling infrastructure on the political agenda was operation "White Crosses" where white crosses were painted on the streets where a cyclist had been killed in traffic.[18] These protests and actions came at the same time as a number of planning reforms were initiated nationally, which gave individual citizens the opportunity to have direct influence on new planning and zoning laws in their communities, and with that came a clear demand for segregated cycle paths.[17]

Although the first separate cycle tracks were constructed much earlier, they did not become the norm until the early 1980s. As in many other cities planners suggested to avoid interfering with car traffic on the main roads, by using a 'back streets strategy' of cycling routes on quite residential streets, but uptake was low[19] and the vast majority of cyclists refused to deviate from the more direct routes.[20] Protests continued and on 4 June 1983 the Danish Cycling Federation, at a large bicycle demonstration, gave a "Cyclist Award" to Jens Kramer Mikkelsen in the form of a two metre long curb. Mikkelsen was the head of the traffic department and later Lord Mayor. The curb was placed on the bike lane on Amagerbrogade at the corner of Hollænderdybet. The gift was a symbol of the bicycle federations desire to have segregated bicycle facilities build on direct corridors, which happened to be along major streets,[21] in order to make bicycle journeys competitive in time and effort. Politicians, although not very eager, gradually took up building cycle tracks on main roads [22] and also began to develop its first coordinated strategies for increasing cycling in the municipality.[17]


Comment edited by jason on 2014-12-15 00:01:12

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