It’s no surprise that cycling is popular in Denmark but a new study shows the number of bikes in Copenhagen is now officially higher than the number of cars. The capital city has been tracking bike numbers manually for decades, and now 20 electric sensors across the city help count the number of cycles wheeling around the streets. Over the last year, an additional 35,080 bikes have been tallied, resulting in a total bike count of 265,700. That surpasses the city’s 252,600 cars by a hefty margin.
Copenhagen’s bicycle count is the product of 20 electric sensors installed at city hall and around the city, which automatically tally bikes as they travel through the metropolitan area. The first such sensor was installed in 2009, with others added in the intervening years. Tracking bicycle traffic is just one facet of the government’s aim to encourage more urban cycling, and it’s working. Two-wheeled traffic has increased 68 percent over the past 20 years.
The Danish government has plunked down some $143 million since 2005 in order to support cycling in the city and encourage more commuters to choose two-wheeled transportation. Bike and pedestrian-only bridges are among the added infrastructure that reduce car-bike incidents and help keep cyclists away from toxic vehicle exhaust. While bike traffic continues to increase (with a 15 percent spike in just the last year), car traffic is slowly falling, down 1 percent from a year ago.
Copenhagen leadership isn’t finished, either. Morten Kabell, the current mayor of technical and environmental affairs, told the Guardian the city aims for 50 percent of all commutes to be made on bikes by 2025. Given that 41 percent of trips are already taken on two wheels, getting to 50 percent is well within the realm of possibility. A new metro expansion planned to open in 2019 could slow the increase of bike traffic, but Kabell doesn’t mind, since the metro is also an emissions-free form of transportation. “The important thing for me is to have a green transport system,” he said. “As long as it’s fossil-free and alleviates congestion and air pollution, I’m cool with that.”