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Cycle highways to help city handle huge volume of cyclists

The Danish and Dutch cities, Copenhagen and Amsterdam have long been considered leaders in the development of bike-centric transport infrastructures.

But as Copenhagen’s network of cycle-paths starts to become a victim of its own success with bikes creating their own congestion, moves are afoot to expand them into proper bike highways, able to cope with a greater volume of cyclists.

Currently the city experiences cycling traffic jams, notably on the Noerrebrogade route which is used by over 35,000 riders daily.

One cyclist, 22-year-old university student Lea Bresell, told Agence-France Presse  things can sometimes get physical: "You have to elbow your way in to go forward and some cyclists aren't always thoughtful."

Danish Cyclist Federation spokesman Frits Bredal told AFP that the creation of higher volume cycle highways is now a necessity to deal with the huge volume of two-wheeled traffic. "Copenhagen's roads are overloaded with people who want to ride their bicycles in all kinds of weather," he said. "It's a mode of transportation used by all social classes, even politicians ride bikes,"

The existing Noerrebrogade cycle lane will be widened by around 4m in a move that will turn it into a bike friendly boulevard which will be "Europe's great cycling street" according to Andreas Roehl, Copenhagen’s bicycle programme manager.

Roehl hope that in addition to the extensive use of bikes by Copenhagen’s inner-city residents, the improved cycling infrastructure will tempt more of the city’s suburb dwellers to dispense with their cars and commute by bike.

Copenhagen currently has around 240 miles of cycle paths and between 2006 and 2010, the city spent 33.6 million euros on its cycling infrastructure.

The first two bicycle highways linking downtown Copenhagen with its suburbs up to 15km away are due to open at the end of 2011. A third highway, extending 20 kilometres from the centre of the capital will be completed in 2012.