Why we should be copying the Copenhagen model

Bike riding is booming, but it’s no thanks to successive governments, who have done next to nothing to help UK cyclists. “We still don’t have a half-decent cycle network worthy of the name” complains Keith Bingham in this week’s Cycling Weekly magazine (December 29).

Sportives continue to sell out in record time, British Cycling membership is on the up, but the numbers commuting by bike have hardy charged in the last 10 years and are unlikely to increase unless the roads are made safer.

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Keith is right, and everyone who rides a bike knows it, but things could be so much better, as anyone who has visited Amsterdam or Copenhagen will tell you. The Dutch city is good, but the Danes have things near-perfect.

I was in Copenhagen for the 2011 World Championships and was simply amazed. This is a city where the biggest problem for riders is mass bike pile-ups – there really is so many of them!

When surveyed last year, 93 per cent of Copenhageners said it was a good place to be a cyclist, with speed, convenience and health given as the top reasons to ride.

Some 50 per cent of Copenhagen residents commute and 67 per cent reckon cycling is a safe form of transport. Impressive stats, but the Danes are aiming even higher, with an 80 per cent perceived safety target set for four years’ time.

This is the true model for success, rather than just re-designating some bus lanes and splashing around with a few pots of blue paint.

Robert Garbutt is editor of Cycling Weekly