In a perfect commuting world, you would find your way to work while steering clear of heinous traffic congestion, enjoying outdoor exercise, saving money on fuel costs, all the while curbing CO2 emissions. But how would such a commute look?
For a real-life model, you might to jump on the highway in Copenhagen—just don’t forget your bike helmet. As some of the world’s most enthusiastic cyclists, the Danish are pretty impressive (one-third currently ditch their clutch pedal for their bike pedal for most transportation needs), so it’s no surprise to see them experiment with the world’s first “bicycle super highway,” which opened in spring 2012.
The highway’s nearly 30 bike routes span 6,213 miles and include the installation of all sorts of bike-friendly amenities, from foot rests, railings to air pumps along the route (every mile, in fact). And, unlike traditional tracks that run parallel along main roads—which by the way, can be a harrowing experience for anyone who’s ever biked next to 80-mph cars—these bike routes run along Copenhagen’s greener pastures, literally, and offer special bike tunnels under freeway overpasses.
The Danish are no strangers to commuting on two wheels, with over 500,000 of them briefcase-ing it on a bike, daily. Compare that to the more car-dependent United States where the average worker spends 25.1 minutes commuting (OK, some of us drive much more than that), while just 3.5 percent take a zero carbon footprint bike to work.
In an aim to encourage long-distance bicycle commuting and become the first carbon neutral city by 2025, Copenhagen spent three years developing this new transportation tour de force.
We’re hopeful bicycle freeways like Copenhagen’s will inspire a more pragmatic fix to the global gridlock experienced from Los Angeles to Shanghai. And, should this calamity ever happen, cycle highways might just save the day.
Discover more cycle super highway projects at Cykel Superstier.
—by Sarah McClure; photos courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons and map from Cycling Embassy DK