Complete Transportation In Copenhagen (Exclusive Video)

Following up on my intro for the “Electrifying Transport” panel at the recent Renewable Cities Global Learning Forum in Vancouver, Canada, his piece shares and summarizes the presentation given by Brian Hansen, Head of Department Citywide Strategies for the City of Copenhagen.

While the panel was generally about the electrification of transportation, some of the panelists noted the importance of a complete and balanced transportation system when it comes to making our cities cleaner and more sustainable. Coming from Copenhagen, perhaps the best large city in the world when it comes to this topic, Brian was especially keen to and good at emphasizing this.

For example, he noted that Copenhagen has a total of 3,745 electric cars registered within its border… but over 20,000 electric bikes were sold in 2014 (not to mention human-powered normal bikes). The city doesn’t know how many electric bikes in total are in the city, but Brian made a guess of 100,000. That dwarfs the electric cars, and even if electric cars have zero emissions, those bikes are tremendously more efficient, particularly if you take into account energy required for production and infrastructure.

Brian also talked about the incentives Copenhagen and Denmark as a whole have for electric cars. For one, there’s a 100% tax on new cars in Denmark, but that is waved for electric cars. There’s free parking for electric cars and free space for charging stations. All new cars bought by the Copenhagen city government have been electric cars since 2012. Meanwhile, nothing has been done to specifically incentive the purchase of those 20,000 electric bikes purchased in 2014….

Copenhagen has a goal of 75% of transport from modes other than the car. A balanced transportation in which the car is simply a minority player creates a more livable city, creates a city that is more attractive to be in, and creates a city in which you are at eye level with fellow people moving around the city — it “actually creates a safer and nicer place.” Indeed.

Lastly, Brian highlighted the sensibility of electrifying our mass transit. He didn’t mention this, but I’ve learned previously that electric buses are now cost-competitive with conventional diesel buses on a lifetime cost of ownership basis. Meanwhile, they save us billions in improved health, longer lives, and a higher quality of life. 100% common sense to electrify transit… it just isn’t so common yet.

Ready to watch? Here’s Brian’s presentation:

Again, below is the audio of the full panel if you want to hear the full panel right now and just want to listen. Otherwise, I’ll continue writing about each of the presentations in the coming days.


Zachary Shahan

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy since 2009. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he's the founder and director of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to and click on the relevant buttons.