Despite everything we see and hear about Copenhagen being a bike paradise, people do still drive cars in the Danish capital. Still, that doesn’t make the latest bit of news from the bike capital of the world any less surprising: Now there are more bikes than cars entering the city each day.
Copenhagen doesn’t just have a lot of bikes, or a lot of bike-friendly infrastructure. It also has a lot of accurate records on their use, coming partly from a network of 20 permanent sensors which track the comings and goings of bicycle traffic into the city center. As you can see from theses maps and charts, put together by Mikhail Colville-Andersen of Copenhagenize, bike traffic has finally beaten car traffic, partly because of an increase in cycling, and partly in the decline in car use.
According to Colville-Andersen, Copenhagen has counted traffic twice-yearly since 1970, and it has done so in a consistent manner, counting both the traffic crossing the municipal border, and the traffic entering the city center. While these simple counts are limited, they offer an unbroken picture of traffic patterns stretching back almost 50 years. And in September, for the first time ever, more people entered the city by bike than by car.
This milestone is even more impressive because car ownership in Denmark is rising overall. Copenhagen, though, is so bike-friendly that car ownership there is still just 25%. “Even though a resident’s parking permit can be bought for a ridiculous €100 a year,” writes Colville-Andersen, “it is clear that Copenhageners prefer bikes and public transport.”
So, even though the citizens has access to cheap cars, and cheap parking, they still prefer to go by bike. That right there is all the evidence you need that good bike infrastructure makes all the difference. If you protect people from cars, so that riding is as easy and natural and safe as walking, then people will choose bikes.