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Copenhagen's "intelligent" traffic lights will speed up journeys for cyclists

Danish capital says signals able to identify people on bikes will cut journey times by a tenth

Copenhagen plans to spend £6.2 million to install 380 “intelligent traffic signals” that will be able to identify buses and cyclists as it aims to speed up journey times for people using public transport or two wheels to get around.

The Danish capital’s council says the initiative will reduce journey times for cyclists by up to 10 per cent, with a similar drop targeted for the number of times citizens on bikes have to stop, reports Copenhagenize

Morten Kabell, the city’s Mayor for Technical and Environmental Affairs since 2014, quoted on the urban planning consultancy's website, said: “These systems will ensure traffic that flows better so that as many people as possible can save time in the greenest possible way.

 “It means that Copenhageners won’t waste time on their way to and from work and that is good business. Copenhagen will be a laboratory where we develop new solutions.”

A pilot of 10 smart traffic lights in the city’s Valby district resulted in buses saving as much as two minutes on their journey through it, says Copenhagenize.

The city has already deployed “green wave” technology on major routes that synchronises traffic lights to ensure that cyclists, riding at an average speed of 12 miles an hour, need never hit a red light, and the latest proposals will see the creation of four similar routes.

> Dublin cyclists to get Danish-style 'green wave' technology

What’s more, the lights will be able to assess and adapt themselves to the actual speed cyclists are travelling at – for example, if people riding on a particular route are going at a lower speed due to a headwind, the green wave phasing will compensate for that.

On his page on the city council’s website, Kabell highlights that “Copenhagen has a solid climate plan leading the city to become the first carbon neutral capital in the world by 2025” – and encouraging people out of cars and onto bikes or buses clearly forms part of that vision.”

> Video: Time-lapse film of Copenhagen's bicycle rush hour

According to that same webpage, “His political focus is changing the traffic in Copenhagen so more people will use bicycles and public transportation.

“Half of the residents of Copenhagen who work in the city today use their bicycle to get to work or education.

“Not because they are specifically eco-friendly or sporty, but because it’s the fastest way to get around in the city, and it is more convenient.

“More than one third of all trips to work or education in Copenhagen are on a bicycle,” it adds.

> Video: UK three decades behind Denmark in cycling provision, admits minister


Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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