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Rest of the World Keeps US on our Toes

Just when you think things are going well and US cities are making great progress towards being more bike-friendly (which they are…), somewhere like Copenhagen comes along and reminds you just how far we have to go! I just read the incredible bi-annual Bicycle Account published by the City of Copenhagen. The 2010 report does actually show a decline in the percentage of trips to work made by bike – down from 37% in 2008 to a paltry 35%, but this drop is attributed to two harsh winters and is made up for by a significant increase of 40,000 in the number of kilometers traveled by bike every day (up to 1.21 million) and a drop in the number of serious crashes to just 92 (3 fatals).

The numbers and the overall Copenhagen story continue to be truly inspirational:

  • 93% of residents think Copenhagen is very good, good or satisfactory to cycle in
  • 68% of residents cycle at least once a week
  • 67% of cyclists feel safe (up from 51%)

And the biggest problems? The cycle tracks aren’t wide enough and there aren’t enough of them…only 346 kms of them. Cyclist and motorist behavior are also major factors in what could be done to make cycling even safer.

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Copenhagen City of Cyclists: Bicycle Account 2010

One of the most astounding numbers buried deep in the report is the socio-economic benefit of cycling. The report says “When all these factors are added together the net social gain is DKK 1.22 per cycled kilometer. For purposes of comparison there is a net social loss of DKK 0.69 per kilometer driven by car.” 1.22 Danish crowns is about 25 cents and a kilometer is 6/10 of a mile, so we are talking about a net economic gain to society of 41 cents for every bicycle mile traveled. That’s a good number to have in your back pocket.

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Quebec (Photo: Andy Clarke)

Iwas at the Ontario Bike Summit earlier this week and learned more about Velo Quebec’s latest round up of all things bicycling in neighboring Quebec – another impressive set of statistics.

  • The number of adult cyclists has increased by 500,000 since 2005;
  • More than half (54%) of Quebecers cycled in 2010, a return to 1995 levels (53%) after decreases in 2000 (49%) and 2005 (47%);
  • The number of people who cycle at least once a week has increased steadily since the year 2000 (from 1.6 million in 2000 to 1.8 million in 2005 and 2 million in 2010);
  • 84% of children and teens cycle, a 9-point drop in 5 years;
  • The proportion of utility cycling has doubled: 37% of cyclists were using their bike as a means of transport occasionally or daily, compared with 20% in 2000;
  • Between 1987 and 2010, the total number of bicycles in Quebec more than doubled and the number of regular cyclists increased by 50%. During the same period, cycling-related fatalities decreased by 58%, serious injuries by 72% and minor injuries by 52%.
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La Route Verte (Photo: Andy Clarke)

La Route Verte, the 4,300km provincial cycling network in Quebec is now returning $134 million annually (not including the cost of bikes…that’s just food, lodging and transport) on a total investment to create the network of $180m over 15 years.

Finally, the small principality of Wales is reportedly the first country in the world to require local authorities to provide cycling infrastructure. I used to ride my bike over the Severn Bridge from Bristol into Wales many years ago on practically the only dedicated bike infrastructure in either country, so it’s pretty cool to learn that Wales will soon become a cycling paradise – the place certainly has the scenery to make it happen.

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Wales (Photo:
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