Spinning our Wheels

Spinning our Wheels is a commuting blog about the challenges of getting around Atlanta by car, bus, MARTA, bicycles and on foot written by transportation reporter David Wickert

Atlantans studying Copenhagen bicycle system

What can Atlanta learn from the top cycling country in the world?

That's what representatives from the Atlanta Regional Commission, the city of Atlanta and Atlanta Beltline Inc. wanted to find out when they visited Copenhagen from June 14-20 on a study tour.

The capital of Denmark has more than 350 kilometers (217 miles) of cycle tracks, on nearly every street in the city. And roughly half the trips there are made by bicycle. The Atlantans wanted to understand how Copenhagen developed its bicycle system over the past three decades, said Byron Rushing, the bicycle and pedestrian planner for the Atlanta Regional Commission.

They found out a big reason why biking is so popular there. Copenhagen has relentlessly focused on what makes people comfortable on their bicycles.

"They ask themselves does any resident feel comfortable on a bicycle?" Rushing said. "And if the answer is no, they build something better."It's all about user experience, connectivity and measuring feedback.

Ideas gained from user feedback were used to make incremental changes to Copenhagen streets over 30 years, which slowly incorporated bicycle lanes into the urban landscape."I thought back in the '70s they had some grand vision for bicycling, and they didn’t," Rushing said. "They just said every time we do a project, we are going to make it a little better for bicycles." The study group said they hope to use some of these lessons in implementing the city of Atlanta's "Cycle Atlanta Plan," which identifies core routes that need to be completed for bicyclists, and the Atlanta Regional Commission's update of the regional 2007 bicycle and pedestrian plan.

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