Will America ever ditch automobiles for bicycles? Probably not. But a grand experiment over in Denmark has taken the ideals of the American interstate, and applied them to an 11-mile stretch of bike-only highway. The hope is that by offering bike commuters a more consistent riding experience, commuters would opt to take their bikes from farther away, further reducing congestion in the ancient Danish capital.
In the metro area around Copenhagen, roughly 50% of commuters already take bikes to work. Why? Because paying $9 a gallon for gas and shelling out $10,000 for a glorified electric go-kart are your only other options outside of public transit. Not exactly a place to be a car enthusiast.
But if you’re a biking enthusiast, Copenhagen is the place to be. A new 11-mile stretch of bike-only “superhighway” will eliminate the problems of inconsistent pavement and snow removal. Because different municipalities have different priorities, sometimes whole sections of bike path might go unplowed, which can be really discouraging. But the new superhighway is the first of 26 planned projects designed to encourage more people to bike to work.
If the bike paths work as planned, Copenhagen could see a drastic reduction in traffic congestion, and it could serve as a model for cities around the world…but probably not in the U.S. The car is still king here, and as long as gas prices remain below $6 or $7 a gallon, Americans will probably adapt. There is a breaking point…but we aren’t there yet.
So for now, the Danes must lead the way.