Denmark opens first cycle highway for commuters in Copenhagen

Updated: 2012-04-17 18:27:00

(Xinhua)

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COPENHAGEN, April 16 (Xinhua) -- Denmark's first cycle highway, part of a planned 300 kilometer road network to boost bike use and cut air pollution, has opened in Copenhagen, the Danish capital.

The so-called "Cycle Super Highways" are bike lanes giving cyclists dedicated routes through the city and its suburbs, which eliminate as many stops as possible, and provide a safer and faster biking experience.

The first route, which officially opened Saturday, connects downtown Copenhagen with the suburb of Albertslund, 22 kilometers away.

A total of 26 such routes are planned, which will increase by 30 percent the number of bike lanes in greater Copenhagen, the Copenhagen City Council authority said in a statement released Tuesday.

It added that although a third of commuters in the greater Copenhagen area already travel by bike, most of them commute distances less than 10 km. The new cycle highways hope to increase these distances, while providing capacity for an additional 15,000 cyclists.

This will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 7,000 tons per year, and reduce healthcare expenditure by 300 million Danish kroner (around 53 million U.S. dollars) annually, owing to improved health of commuters, the city authorities said.

The highways project will expand and link existing bike lanes in greater Copenhagen, and help cyclists identify the best routes through better signage, safer traffic intersections, and traffic lights timed to give the most green lights in succession, along with timers indicating when lights will change.

Free access to air pumps, cyclist rest stops and bike parking are among other amenities provided to urge more commuters to leave their personal cars at home and get on their bikes.

"One in three people living in Greater Copenhagen say they would bike more if it were easier to do so," said Vibeke Storm Rasmussen, Chair of the Greater Copenhagen Regional Council, in a statement announcing the opening of the super highways.

"The bike-bahn (highway) is the best thing we can do to make cycling a real alternative to driving for even more commuters. The more people we can encourage to bike, the more we can reduce congestion and pollution - both of which will improve quality of life in Greater Copenhagen," she added.

Denmark has a vibrant bicycling culture and has long championed bike use as a way to cut air pollution, improve personal health and get around urban areas quickly.