The City of Aarhus has now begun work to transform the street Mejlgade to a so-called cycle street – the first of its kind in Denmark. In short, this means that Mejlgade will be turned into a sort of pedestrian street, but for cyclists – where the cars have to be extra considerate of cyclists.
Mejlgade is one of the city’s most important radial roads for cyclists in Aarhus. In 24 hours, 4,600 cyclists pass through the narrow street, making Mejlgade the fifth most frequented street in Aarhus as far as bicycles are concerned.
In terms of issues with safety and passability, however, Mejlgade is number one.
“The problem in Mejlgade is that the sidewalks are so narrow, making the pedestrians walk out onto the roadway and causing the cyclists have to zigzag their way through the street. Then when a car is coming through as well, the street is completely blocked,” Project Manager Pablo Celis at Aarhus Cycle City explains.
Today, Mejlgade is a one-way street for cars, while cyclists can go in both directions. The street is lined with narrow cobblestone sidewalks.
The present cramped conditions for cyclists on Mejlgade in Aarhus.
The cars consider the cyclists
In order to improve traffic behaviour and to strengthen the role of Mejlgade as one of the most important cycle routes to and from the city centre, the street will be transformed to a two-way cycle street where cars are only allowed to go in one direction. The new street will have broad sidewalks separated from the roadway/cycle street by a kerb, and the middle of the street will be marked by studs dividing the street into a two-way cycle street.
The inspiration for the cycle street comes from examples in Germany and Holland. The idea is that all road users can use the street – but on the cyclists’ terms – and the pavement will be optimised in order to cater for cyclists and pedestrians, instead of the cars.
The inspiration for the cycle street comes from Germany and Holland. The idea with the cycle street is that all road users can go about the street – but on the cyclists’ terms.
The establishment of a cycle street can become one of the most important demonstration projects in Denmark in terms of creating better conditions for the increasing number of cyclists in the city centres – a problem many Danish cities are facing these years. Often, there is not enough room to build cycle tracks in the narrow city streets, and neither is it possible to shut the streets off completely from car traffic. The experiences from the Mejlgade project in Aarhus can thereby prove to be one way to meet the calls from citizens and politicians alike, in order to make better conditions for cyclists.
The cycle street is expected to open in the beginning of 2012.
Visualisation of the new cycle street on Mejlgade.