A new report from the University of Copenhagen and the Technical University of Denmark has been published. The report is on urban design’s effect on people’s cycling habits, and the results indicate that the establishment of major commercial shopping centers outside the cities weakens cycling. Thomas Sick Nielsen from the Technical University of Denmark and co-author of the report explains: “Shopping centers outside the city centers means that the range of services within comfortable cycling distance decreases for most citizens. At the same time, access is often easy if you are going by car.”
Senior Researcher from the University of Copenhagen, Hans Skov –Petersen, adds, that although cycling is on the rise in major cities, and Copenhagen is highlighted internationally as the world’s bicycle capital, the development on a national basis is negative: ”Contrary to our self-understanding, we see that cycling is declining in Denmark at the moment and has been for the past 10 years, although there are significant regional differences. We don’t see a decrease in the rural areas, but in the major provincial cities, the number of people cycling is going down.”
According to The Minister of Transportation in Denmark, Magnus Heunicke, the bike must continue to play a major role in our transport habits for several reasons: “The bike is green and at the same time it benefits health as well as congestion. Denmark should be a leading nation in terms of cycling. But we must cycle more and further distances, not only in Copenhagen but all over the country”, he states in a comment to Danish newspaper Politiken.
No obstacles to car traffic
Thomas Sick Nielsen explains that urban planning is very important for cycling habits and therefore it makes good sense to incorporate cycling from the beginning of the planning process. In many places, the urban design has focused on cars, by creating huge shopping centers near larger roads and highway exits, making it quick and easy for drivers to do all their shopping in one place.
“The heavy investments in infrastructure really matters. Once they are created, they are there for many years. It is very important not to forget the bike in this process”, Thomas Sick Nielsen finishes.