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3 reasons why Copenhagen is the world

leader in urban sustainability
The buzz from Copenhagen is all about its new 'superhighway' for bikes. The real secret to its
pioneering urban design, though, is that it puts people first on all its streets.
Wed, Jul 18, 2012 at 05:06 PM

WHERE BIKES COUNT: Along a main Copenhagen commuter artery, a digital sign tallies
the cycling traffic. (Photo: Ashley Bristowe)
As the New York Times reported with much praise – and unprecedented levels of RTing, if
my Twitter stream is any indication – the city of Copenhagen continues to set the global pace
for urban sustainability, particularly as regards two-wheeled, self-propelled transportation.
But as is too often the case when the Times picks up on a story I started reporting three years
ago (I’m not getting rich at this gig, so at least let me humblebrag), the paper’s coverage of
Copenhagen’s bike-driven transportation revolution goes for flash and novelty over
substance. Allow me to explain, in listicle fashion.
Herewith, the three key reasons why Copenhagen is the global model for sustainable urban
transport, in ascending order of importance:
1. Bicycle Superhighway!
This, of course, is the piece of the puzzle the Times chose to focus on, because no headline
writer in the history of journalism has ever passed up an opportunity to use the term
superhighway. As the Times reports, the city of Copenhagen has launched the first of 26
planned suburban commuter arteries built exclusively for bicycles: long, well-paved,
carefully maintained bike paths to link its suburbs with the inner city, up to 14 miles long and
requiring the cooperation of 21 separate municipal governments.
These are the numbers the Times reports. Remarkably, the story makes no mention of the
extraordinary figure for cycling’s modal share in Copenhagen, so I will: fully 37 percent of

And they began a half-century of people-centered planning that led. . the Strøget. in which Copenhagen cycle evangelist Mikael ColvilleAndersen rides the Green Wave: This isn’t technically innovative. Copenhagen’s real revolution began in the early 1960s. built real bike lanes and otherwise rethought its entire street system after Mayor Michael Bloomberg hired Gehl acolyte Janette Sadik-Khan as head of the Department of Transportation.” Bikes aren’t the point. summing up the Copenhagen approach to city building in a concise sound bite: “Our roads are not here for automobiles. which pedestrianized Times Square.. and their needs are not only not the same but often stand (and move) in conflict. It’s really just that simple: Put people first in your transport planning. site: http://www.by Denmark's own Ibens). they are a tool. one of many means to the end of a sustainable city. It’s the “Green Wave” — a rejigging of the traffic lights along a primary downtown commuter artery so that the green lights are synched to the pace of the average cyclist.” Cars aren’t people. of course. The reason Copenhagen is the world’s cycle infrastructure leader — and possibly its most livable city — is because it’s the first to prioritize bikes (and. Notice it doesn’t say “Cities for Bicycles. Instead. This insight — not superhighways for bikes — is Copenhagen’s greatest contribution to the global conversation about urban sustainability.Copenhagen residents — and 55 percent of downtown dwellers — use bikes as their primary mode of transportation. I say). in other parts of the city. 3..com/green-tech/transportation/blogs/3-reasons-why-copenhagen-is-theworld-leader-in-urban-sustainability Jan Gehl . when the main downtown shopping street. Our roads are here for people getting around. . It is to make the city work for everyone. One of the cities that has most fully embraced this philosophy is New York. Here’s a short film (set to a stellar track called “Jeg savner min blaa cykel” – “I miss my blue bicycle" . Every city in North America synchs up its lights like this for cars on main drags. Here’s Bloomberg just last week. The Green Wave As I first reported back in 2009 (always double-down on a humblebrag. Cities for People “Cities for People” is the title of Copenhagen urban design guru Jan Gehl’s most recent book and the core of the city’s whole philosophy. and bike lanes and pedestrian thoroughfares (and great mass transit and abundant public spaces) naturally follow. to innovations like the cycling superhighway. the most innovative piece of cycling infrastructure in Copenhagen is a technique. in its latest chapter. Which points to another key Copenhagen innovation . was so clogged with cars that the city considered banning bikes from it. is not to exalt the bike. people) over cars. not a physical thing. though.mnn. Which brings us to Copenhagen’s real innovation . they banned cars. 2. The point.

and planners. ter School of Architecture Awards Sir Patrick Abercrombie Prize (1993) Civic Trust Award (2009) Practice Gehl Architects Jan Gehl. Belgium. the US." Gehl married a psychologist and "had many discussions about why the human side of architecture was not more carefully looked after by the architects. Germany. and planning. Australia." and has since been a lecturer and professor there. and practiced architecture from 1960 to 1966. Biography Gehl received a Masters of Architecture from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen in 1960. landscape architects.. Mexico. He is a founding partner of Gehl Architects – Urban Quality Consultants. As a "young architect working in the suburbs. Hon.From Wikipedia. the free encyclopedia Jan Gehl Jan Gehl in 2006 Born 17 September 1936 (age 78) Copenhagen.. and a Visiting Professor in Canada."[1] . FAIA (born 17 September 1936) is a Danish architect and urban design consultant based in Copenhagen and whose career has focused on improving the quality of urban life by re-orienting city design towards the pedestrian and cyclist. My wife and I set out to study the borderland between sociology. architecture. psychology. Poland and Norway. New Zealand. He is a founding partner of Gehl Architects. In 1966 he received a research grant from the institution for "studies of the form and use of public spaces. Denmark Nationali Danish ty Alma ma Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts.

[4] Adelaide (2002)[5] Sydney (2007). Gehl often uses the phrase "copenhagenize" to describe his vision of how urban centres can embrace bicycle culture and urban cycling. with the first English translation published in 1987. Copenhagen's Strøget carfree zone.[8] In 2010 Gehl was hired by the Hobart City Council to prepare a design strategy for the city of Hobart. Gehl participates in and advises many urban design and public projects around the world:  In 2004 he carried out an important study in to the quality of the public realm in London. Tasmania.[6] Auckland (2008)[7] and Christchurch. where he prepared Public Life studies for the city centres of Melbourne (1994 and 2004). commissioned by Central London Partnership and Transport for London. is primarily the result of Gehl's work.[2]  Gehl has been influential in Australia and New Zealand as well. making gradual incremental improvements. Gehl's book Public Spaces. then documenting them again.[9] . Public Life describes how such incremental improvements have transformed Copenhagen from a car-dominated city to a pedestrian-oriented city over 40 years.[3] Perth (1995 and 2009).  In 2007-08 he was hired by New York City's Department of Transportation to re-imagine New York City streets by introducing designs to improve life for pedestrians and cyclists. one of the longest pedestrian shopping areas in Europe. Gehl advocates a sensible.Influence Gehl Architects' project for Brighton New Road employing shared space. and supported City of Wakefield and the town of Castleford in developing and delivering better public spaces. straightforward approach to improving urban form: systematically documenting urban spaces. awarded the UK Civic Trust Award Gehl first published his influential Life Between Buildings in Danish in 1971. as part of an initiative known as "The Castleford Project". The DOT used Gehl's work to "directly inform" the implementation of their new urban planning and design policies and projects.[citation needed] In fact.

org/wiki/Jan_Gehl . and learn from reality.Gehl credits the "grandmother of humanistic planning" Jane Jacobs for drawing his attention to the importance of human scale.wikipedia. spend time in the streets and squares and see how people actually use spaces. and use it. learn from that. “Fifty years ago she said – go out there and see what works and what doesn’t work. Look out of your windows.” Site: http://en.