Urban transport transitions: Copenhagen, City of Cyclists

Mobility growth poses considerable challenges to city planners around the world, as it entails problems of congestion, air pollution, and accidents. Many cities have thus sought to increase the share of sustainable transport, and specifically travel by bicycle. However, it appears that measures to foster cycling are often implemented on an ad hoc basis, lacking strategic focus and a more profound understanding of bicycle cultures. New insights can be gained from Copenhagen, Denmark, a selfdeclared City of Cyclists that has made considerable progress towards increasing the share of travel by bicycle, with the political goal to become the “world’s best city for bicycling.” In this article, the success, reproducibility and limitations of the Copenhagen bicycle strategy are discussed in an urban transport transitions framework, based on a content- and discourse analysis of the city’s official documents to assess the respective role of market-based, command-and-control, and soft policy measures in encouraging bicycling. Results suggest that soft policies, integrated with command-and-control measures, and the consideration of bicyclist expectations and concerns with regard to perceptions of safety, speed and comfort have been key in achieving high bicycle trip shares. Integrating these in comprehensive planning frameworks appears to be an approach that is more likely to foster bicycle cultures that can result in urban transport transitions.


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  • Accession Number: 01526913
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Apr 8 2014 11:34AM