Greater City Providence

Danish bike superhighway and the Green Wave

Copenhagen Bike Sign

Photo (cc) Eliel

Copenhagenize reports on the city’s plan to boost bicycle commuting from the suburbs. Currently 55% of Copenhagen residents ride a bike everyday. However, only* 37% of residents of Greater Copenhagen do so. The city is looking to attract people who commute 7-15km (4-9 miles) into the center of Copenhagen with a new bike superhighway system.

The routes will be developed on the existing bike lanes but they will have a number of improved features, according to the City’s vision:

  • Smooth, even surfaces free of leaves, ice and snow.
  • As direct as possible with no detours.
  • Homogenous visual expression, for example, with signage and the trademark blue bike lanes through larger intersections.
  • ‘Service stations’ with air and tools along the routes.
  • Possibility to maintain a high speed and with sufficient width to overtake other cyclists.
  • Safe and quick crossing priority for cyclists when they approach cross streets.
  • Green Wave for cyclists through sections with frequent stop lights. [The Green Wave is in place on three main routes into Copenhagen already. Cycle 20 km/h and you hit green lights all the way.]

If one looks around our metro area, we have the beginnings of bicycle superhighway system with the East Bay Bike Path, the Blackstone, the Washington Secondary, and the Woonasquatucket. Here, our bikeways don’t all quite make there way into the center of the city. Copenhagen is a city that has a strong commitment both culturally and in its infrastructure to cycling. Our bikeways are devoted bikeways, Copenhagen’s system is being built on existing roads, the cost factor is large:

The new commuter routes are expected to cost roughly 250 million kroner [$47 million]. A [s]et of routes of similar length, isolated and away from the streets would cost between 1 and 1.5 billion kroner. [$200-280 million].

The Green Wave is currently in use in parts of the city and will be instrumental in the Superhighway system times traffic lights so that bikes moving at a constant 20km/hour (12.5mph) hit all green lights.

The Green Wave in Copenhagen from Copenhagenize on Vimeo.

*Can you imagine!?

Jef Nickerson

Jef is Greater City Providence's co-founder, editor, and publisher. He grew up on Cape Cod and lived in Boston; Portland, Maine; and New York before settling in Providence. In addition to urbanism, Jef is interested in art, design, and ice cream. Please feel free to contact Jef if you have any question or comments about Greater City Providence.


  • I think there’s a relationship between the fact that inner-city bike systems are costly and the fact that PVD basically has no inner-city bike system. Do we even have 3.7% of commuters on bikes, let alone 37%? If you’re the agency paying, you have to sat that the cost:benefit on that one is terrible.

    I was in NYC over the weekend and, again, it’s a very high level of awareness that facilitates the high quality of movement in the city. I’m starting to wonder how much the PVD cycling experience could be improved by a semi-serious PR campaign.

    I’d try to work both sides of the street, so to say. On the driver education side, I’d get some media-savvy bike-type people to make a few PSAs and push them out the the local stations. The basic message has to be: bikes are _supposed_ to be on the road, there’s going to be more and more, can’t-we-all-just-get-along.

    Then on the cyclist side, the message is: we’re doing right by you so you do right by us (don’t ride like a douche), give this time to work, be ready for waves and waves of n00bs and please help them.

    A harder cyclist education issue I kinda worry about is training up “poverty cyclist” who’s less than plugged into the modern world, and has probably never heard about how bicycles are supposed to behave in US traffic. Wrong way, wrong side of the road, sidewalk riding, no helmet, poorly-maintained bike, inebriated, cargo in plastic bags hung on the handlebars, etc.

    Perhaps the driver education message would help.

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