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The Danish Solution
To The Oil Crisis

By Vratislav Šlapák

Use only bikes and make personal contributions to environmental problems to combat increasingly crammed cities or even fight diabetes. That is the overall message set forth by Danish cycling ambassadors working to promote urban cycling around the world.

Have you ever heard about Copenhagenization or The Copenhagenize Index? We were in the Danish capital, Copenhagen, to get a better understanding of why Danes love their two-wheels and why other people might benefit from doing the same. It’s no secret that Copenhagen is widely regarded as a cyclist’s utopia. Half of Copenhagen residents commute to school or work by bike and the city has long shown commitment to improving its bike infrastructure, making cycling an attractive, efficient option for nearly all residents.

hundreds of parked bicycles in the city of Copenhagen Denmark
(Photo: Profimedia.cz)

Copenhagen’s own “Copenhagenization” has its roots during the oil crisis in the 70s, when Denmark introduced car free Sundays. “A lot of people started using bicycles instead. During that period many people in Copenhagen, mainly orchestrated by my organization, the Danish Cyclists’ Federation, held large demonstrations demanding better facilities for bicycles,” explains Mikael Colville-Andersen, an urban mobility expert and CEO for Copenhagenize Consulting. He is often referred to as Denmark’s Bicycle Ambassador and is one of the leading voices in urban planning and re-establishing bicycles for transport in urban landscapes.

As this movement grew during the 1970s and 80s, Copenhagen built an extensive network of bicycle lanes, which then led to the bicycle culture that flourishes in most Danish cities today. “We start with the individual since obviously it’s a lot of fun to ride. It gives you a sense of freedom. It’s also good for your health and it has been documented that riding regularly extends your life span,” says Mikael.

The term Copenhagening was popularized by Danish urban design consultant Jan Gehl, who has been instrumental in the promotion and implementation of the policy in Copenhagen. For more than 40 years, Mr. Gehl has systematically studied public spaces to see how they really work, using Copenhagen as a laboratory for his research.

The Copenhagenize Index

Early in 2011, a discussion arose at Copenhagenize Design Co. about what cities really are the best cities for urban cycling. “It was professional curiosity that was the catalyst for developing this Index. We work with cities around the world and we wanted to be able to give them a score in order to determine the best and most effective method for establishing bicycles urban landscapes,” says Mikael.

Many bicycles parked in Hojbro Plads with old Amagertorv Square beyond. Copenhagen, Zealand, Denmark
(Photo: Profimedia.cz)

The Copenhagenize Index uses a list of criteria based on 13 categories and each city receives a score from 0 to 4 for each of the criteria with a chance to win 12 bonus points for “impressive efforts or results”. In WeLoveCycling.com, we think it is great to see what Mikael and his team have done for ranking cities around the world and their acceptance of bicycles as a viable and respected mode of transportation!