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Bikes outnumber cars in Copenhagen traffic for first time

More space could be given over to cyclists in Danish capital

Bicycles now outnumber cars in Copenhagen’s traffic, according to new figures released by the city authorities of Denmark’s capital.

According to the latest traffic count conducted by the city, 265,700 bicycles entered the centre Copenhagen in a 24-hour period, compared to 252,600 cars – the first time that has happened since records began in 1970.

In that first survey more than four and a half decades ago, 340,000 cars were recorded compared to 100,000 bicycles, but the gap has been narrowing due to the city’s investment in cycling infrastructure, reports Politiken.

A graphic released by Copenhagen City Council shows that how the convergence between falling numbers of cars and rising cyclist counts has accelerated in recent years.

Copenhagen bikes outnumber cars (source Copenhagen City Council).jpg

In the latest survey, the council says that while overall traffic across all modes dropped by 1 per cent, the number of bicycles counted rose by 15 per cent over 2015.

According to the council, some 41 per cent of all trips to places of work or study in the city are done by bicycle, with cyclists covering an aggregate 1.36 million kilometres every day. There are 678,000 bicycles in the city – outnumbering cars by almost seven to one.

Klaus Bondam, director of cyclists’ association Cyklistforbundets, said that the figures proved that if safe and secure infrastructure was provided for bike riders, people would use it.

He added that the city authorities had taken the needs of cyclists into account in their planning, though he believes there still needs to be a debate about allocating even more road space to people on two wheels.

> Video: mesmerising time lapse of Copenhagen's bicycle rush hour

The Mayor of Technical and Environmental Affairs of Copenhagen, Morten Kabell, said he was “really glad” that bicycles had passed motor cars for the first time in terms of traffic, saying “it shows the investment we have made works.”

“But,” he continued, “it is clear that there is a challenge regarding the capacity of the cycle lanes. They must be able to cope with the volume of traffic.

"We have to make hard choices about space,” he added, saying there needed to be a rethink of allocation of space at some locations in the city where bikes outnumber cars but that isn’t reflected in the road layout.

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

Simon has been news editor at since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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