This week I had the chance to talk to a group of architects and urban planners (linked to the ifhp, mainly Danish) on a visit to Madrid. As always, talking to foreigner colleagues is interesting. I visited Copenhagen in 2002, and it seemed a very interesting city, with an attractive urbanism. Taking a look at the city map and its urban tissues, taken from the EEA Urban Atlas dataset, it is worth noting that this interesting city:
– Does not respond to a pre-defined regular shape, but rather to adaptations to geographical features or to the subsequent growth moments.
– Residential tissue is marked by man-made discontinuities, be it public facilities or infrastructure (gray, violet)
– Shows varying densities. Centrality is clear, but its limits are fuzzy (red means dense housing, shades of orange show less dense residential areas)
And this (which in fact is common to most cities, good and bad in urbanism terms) raises the question of density and its measurement; city blocks are relevant for some measurements, but the neighborhood is also a meaningful border, as long as there is an agreement on its limits. Another conclusion is that good urbanism is a matter of coherence and quality at different scales, but not necessarily something that requires total regularity.
According to the last stats, 16% of all trips in Denmark are by bicycle, and for those under 4 km the share rises to 24%. 44% of all households don’t have a car. With many good conditions for cycling and a population used to it, Denmark is anyway subject to a certain rise in car ownership and use, and cycling on a national level decreased from 1990 to 2008. But even so, bike use has increased in Copenhaguen.
Since 1993 there are 11 national cycle routes, with a total length of 4.233 km. As they usually follow such elements as the coast, with much less stringent layout requirements than car roads, and they are mainly tourism and leisure oriented, they can have great lengths. The initiative’s interest must be weighted with more day to day projects, as Copenhaguen’s Cycle Superhighways, a commuter-oriented project that is to remind to anyone with a certain urban planning culture the “finger plans” so recurrent since the postwar years in this nice city.
Copenhaguen’s Cycle Superhighways
The standard bike lane width is 2,2 m, which have been extended to 2,5-2,8 m in Copenhaguen.