Can a bike path solve this suburb's traffic problems?

Existing bike routes near Lyngby's commuter rail station are not exactly ideal. (Annemarie Zinck)

Bicycling at rush hour through the center of Lyngby, a suburb north of Copenhagen, can be a nightmare. The congested area around the commuter rail station is a tangled mess of cars, buses, pedestrians and other bicyclists.

Lyngby hopes the situation will improve in 2017, when a cycle “super highway” known as the Allerød route, is set for completion. The route will give bicyclists a straight shot into Copenhagen, about 13 km (8 miles) away. It also will no longer cut right through the busy commuter area in the center of Lyngby, in order to secure a safer journey for bicyclists.

The effort is part of a new regional network of bike routes aimed at commuters —  the subject of Citiscope’s innovation feature this week. Responding to climate change and promoting healthy lifestyles are two big goals of the overall project, and those are factors in Lyngby-Taarbæk municipality’s decision to participate. But the main driver for the municipality is simply to help solve its own traffic problems.

“For us the project was a win-win situation,” says Mads Christiansen who is head of traffic planning in the municipality. “By joining the cycle super highway project, we get financial support from the state to build a very crucial bicycle path that saves bicyclists from having to cross an area with very heavy bus traffic.”

From a municipal perspective, one advantage of participating in the regional bike-route network is cost-sharing. If Lyngby-Taarbæk were doing bike-path improvements on its own, it would have to pay the full cost. As part of the regional cycle super highway plan, however, Lyngby-Taarbæk pays half the cost and the national government picks up the rest.

The municipality finds several other advantages in being part of the project. One is that central coordination through a secretariat keeps the 22 municipalities involved on the same page in terms of how to execute their individual parts of the regional network.

“It is a great advantage to have the secretariat to make sure we all fall into rank,” Christiansen says. He also finds discussions in the project’s steering committee very useful in solving particular problems related to coordinating the efforts of all the different municipalities.

Denmark is famous for its bicycling culture, and Christiansen says it won’t be hard to convince more people in Lyngby to use their bicycles. “We are a university city with lots of young people. For them it is natural to use the bicycle — also over longer distances,” he says. “And with the electrical bicycles becoming more and more popular among the elder citizens, we also see potential there.”

Correction: This story has been updated to correct an earlier mistake in how the cost-share arrangement for construction is described.  

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Annemarie is an editor and journalist based in Copenhagen mainly working with subjects related to politics, green technologies and society.  Full bio

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