Much of Copenhagen’s bike- and pedestrian-centric infrastructure seems wild to us folks on the outside, but the new Copenhagen Gate is wild no matter where you see it from. It’s a pedestrian bridge spanning the entrance to a berth in the city’s harbor, running between two skyscrapers and suspended 213 feet above the waters below.
Designed by architect Stephen Holl back in 2008, the Copenhagen Gate project has just been revived after economic troubles put it on hold. Construction starts in 2016 and will include the two new towers that act as supports for the bridge. The most seaward tower, Gate L, will house cafes and restaurants and feature an open-air public deck shaped like the prow of a ship. The bridge itself is suspended from each building by cables and appears to be broken in the center where the two halves meet. Notionally, this makes each section line up with its own tower, but it also looks neat and is something that would never be done with a road bridge.
The design might be crazy and totally impractical (there are elevators in each building to haul pedestrians and cyclists up to and down from the covered span), but like municipal architecture around the world, it is the result of bureaucracy and regulations. According to Mikael Colville-Andersen of the Copenhagenize blog, no home in Copenhagen is allowed to be more than 500 meters away from public transport. Currently getting from one side of the mouth to the other requires a 2.2 kilometer detour, which puts the newly constructed homes in this area out of that range.
That explains the need for a bike bridge, but why is it so high? This is also down to the location over a working port: Ships need to get in and out of the berth.
Given the lifts, and the bike-friendly nature of the rest of Copenhagen, it might be quicker to scoot around the edge of the harbor. But then you’d be missing out on what might be the neatest, scariest, and craziest bike lane ever built.