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Copenhagen's Green Wave for Bikes

Experimenting with new ways for cities to enhance bicycle transport.

Copenhagen city officials have been testing a program to speed bicycle commuters through Denmark's capital during congested rush hour.

The city is also exploring new ways to give bikes and buses priorities at intersections during peak travel hours.

They found that of the greater nuisances which hundreds of bicyclists of Copenhagen experience during their commute through the city is having to stop.

Having to decelerate, put their feet to the ground, wait and then accelerate again is an annoyance to many. Some even take longer routes with less traffic signals to avoid this.

One of the city government's goals is to create a smoother flow for bicyclists and an avoidance of stops when possible.

The city sequentially synchronized traffic signals on certain corridors, allowing for passage through the whole corridor if a speed of approximately 20 kilometers an hour is maintained. This speed is a little above the average speed of bicyclists, which motivates bicyclists to go a little faster. The “green waves for bicyclists” are very much appreciated by the public, the city reports.

One problem is that most bicyclists don’t have an intuitive understanding of how fast they are going. Many cyclists don’t have speedometer equipment. It has been a challenge for the city of Copenhagen to find a manner of communicating, in an intuitive and understandable way, the speed the bicyclists should ride to reach the next traffic light and ultimately the whole green wave.

One experiment has involved imbedding green lights in the pavement and turning the small lights green or off along the stretch in a wave like manner.

In this way the time-to-green or time-to-red traffic light is visualized on the bicycle path itself.

If you are in the green, that is, if the lights by your side or in front of you are green, then you will be able to cross the intersection.

If you are overtaken by the switching off of lights, you can also see that there is a need to speed up. You can “catch up” to the green lights by accelerating and overtaking the speed by which they are turned off.

City officials told the Energy Times that the green wave pilot project is still running at some key intersections but no decision has been made about future expansion of the program.


Lighting the Way to a Green City


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