A Bicycle Superhighway for Copenhagen

I spent half my weekend and all of my subsequent commutes to work raptly reading "The Devil in the White City." While the book focuses on the intense concentration of design and murder taking place in Gilded Age Chicago, a fair number of bikes have also tooled through the story's pages. Safety bikes, that is.

The safety bike -- two evenly sized wheels set on a frame much like that of today's bicycles -- replaced the dangerous and sometimes deadly high-wheelers, transforming cycling from a young man's sporting pursuit to an easy, everyday way for getting around.

Copenhagen may be on the verge of a subsequent biking revolution, although this time the change is on the ground. FanStuff's Tracy Wilson forwarded me an article from io9 laying out the Danish city's plan for a bike superhighway. Fifty-five percent of Copenhagen's city center residents already bike at least once a day. Thirty-seven percent of greater Copenhagen residents bike daily. In order to bump up that second number a bit, the city of Copenhagen will expand its bike path network to accommodate middle-distance commuters, setting up 13 bike routes that reach all the way out to the suburbs.

The bike blog Copenhagenize writes that the routes will be smooth and clean, direct with no detours and safe for fast riders and more middling types. For areas with dense stoplights, the route will feature the "Green Wave," a service that turns lights green if you cycle at 20 kilometers per hour. And if you bust a tire 6 miles (10 kilometers) from home, service stations along the routes will feature air and tools for a repair on the go.

Of course roads are never cheap -- the whole thing is expected to cost about 250 million kroner ($47 million) -- but with a biking culture as firmly entrenched as Copenhagen's, it's likely the routes and money won't go to waste.

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